By Becca Talbot - email@example.com
Making calls over your internet connection using a VoIP provider can really cut your monthly phone bills, but what is VoIP and who offers it? (Updated 11/11/09)
VoIP stands for Voice over Internet Protocol. A VoIP connection allows you to make cut-price calls through your broadband connection using various different types of VoIP equipment. These include traditional-style telephones, VoIP routers, headsets and even your mobile phone.
As well as making savings on your home phone calls, VoIP can also help you cut the cost of your line rental. And if you have a mobile broadband contract that allows access to VoIP services, you won’t need your BT landline for anything, saving you as much as £168 a year.
But who offers the VoIP services?
Vonage (www.vonage.co.uk) is one of the UK’s biggest VoIP providers and offers a range of packages to suit different needs and budgets. It was the winner of the Internet Telephony Services Providers Association (ITSPA) Best Consumer VoIP category, 2009.
Vonage’s range of call plans range from UK calls, to packages designed for people who regularly call the US, Canada or India, or who call a number of different destinations. It also offers cheaper rates than traditional home phone providers.
Vonage offers a selection of VoIP products, including VoIP phones and the Vonage V-Portal, which allows you to connect up to two Vonage lines, and includes a networking router. It also allows you to connect your old phone, so that you can use a traditional handset and features caller ID and a call timer, call logs, language selection, and built-in upstream bandwidth tester so you can see how your connection is performing.
BT Total Broadband customers can use their BT home hub to make cheaper calls using a second VoIP line. BT took the ITSPA Best Consumer VoIP award in 2008.
Broadband Talk is automatically included in your monthly broadband package. It comes with its own geographical number and inclusive UK evening and weekend calls as well as low rates to mobiles and international destinations. You can plug any touchtone phone into your home hub, or buy a BT Hub Phone.
Customers can also install the Softphone software to make calls over the internet - from home or anywhere else with a broadband connection. The Softphone programme uses the internet to make calls and you need a headset (or a PC with a microphone) to use it.
Any chargeable calls you make using Softphone will be automatically charged back to your account, no matter where you are.
You simply plug a regular phone into your Livebox router to make VoIP calls, and it works whether your computer is on or not.
The second line has its own geographical number so that other people can call you, and calls to 30 countries and Orange mobiles are included in the package price. You also get inclusive calls to other second line customers and UK landlines.
As well as the inclusive calls that providers like Orange offer, some other VoIP suppliers like Skype also allow users to make free calls to other users who are online at the same time.
Although Skype does offer cheap pay-monthly packages and pay as you go VoIP minutes, you can make free calls using your computer to any other Skype users connected at the same time as you - you can even make free video calls using a webcam.