Alternative to VoIP
By Peter Grant
Voice over IP, also known as VoIP, is a communications protocol that allows its users to make voice phone calls using the same infrastructure as their Internet connection. VoIP phone services are typically offered by most Internet service providers as an additional service and offers the same functionality as a traditional phone system. For people who don't want to use VoIP through their utility provider or if it isn't offered, there are a few good alternatives.
MagicJack is a small USB-connected device that connects to your computer and uses its Internet connection to make and receive unlimited calls for a flat annual fee. Once the device is connected to your computer, and your computer is connected to the Internet, you can plug in a traditional phone line into the phone jack at the side of the device so you can continue to use your existing phone.
The Internet-based Google Voice service is free to customers and allows its users to make and receive free voice and video calls to other PCs for free as well as voice calls to mobile and landline phone numbers across the world at a low-cost. Customers are able to register a unique phone number and purchase bundles of minutes. The service also supports call forwarding, conference calls, voicemail, SMS messages, and voicemail transcription. It's accessed through your web browser and is also available as an application for Apple iOS and Google Android mobile phone operating systems.
Skype is "softphone" service that, like Google Voice, can turn its users' computer into a phone. Skype runs on the computer as a standalone program and it does require that the computer be connected to the Internet in order to work. Users of Skype can register a free username and make free PC-to-PC video and voice calls as well as register a phone number and purchase minutes so that they can call international mobile and landline numbers.
Vopium is a Denmark-based software company that provides low-cost international calls using a proprietary software application that's able to be installed on PCs, Macs and mobile devices. The mobile device component is particularly beneficial because it allows people to use their cell phones to make international calls at much lower rates than their cellular service provider can offer. Like Skype, Vopium's software client also supports international SMS messages.
Peter Grant has been a professional writer since 1998 and software engineer since 1995. He has contributed to academic papers, open-source software projects and technical documentation across several industries. Grant holds a master's degree in public policy from National University.