Cut your telephone bills with internet calling

The communications landscape has shifted dramatically over the last decade and it is now possible to stay in touch with family and friends all over the world thanks to internet calling.

Basically, internet calling, which is also known as VoIP, uses your broadband connection to make and receive voice calls and, in theory at least, you could pay for all of your internet and telephone needs for under £20 per month.

By far the most expensive element of internet calling is the equipment. First and foremost you will need a fairly modern computer. Anything bought in the last four years should do fine. In addition, you will need a special connection that you plug your conventional phone into, or a special internet phone that plugs directly into your PC’s USB port.

Once you have these in place you are ready to start saving. The technology has developed to the point today that you should not have to fork out for separate, or even combined, telephone and internet packages. A good broadband service with a reasonable and consistent connection speed is all you need. If you have access to a good wireless network in your area you will not even need a landline.

The price of broadband connections has been falling steadily as the number of services on the market increases. No matter where you live in Britain, you should be able to get a good connection for under £20 per month.

Once you have your equipment and connection in place, it is possible to make significant savings on call costs. The real beauty of internet calling is that much of it can be for free. Create an account with a service like Skype, by far the most popular globally, and you can call other Skype users for free, no matter where they are in the world. In fact, you can even video call them for hours on end and not pay a penny.

You can also use Skype to ring landlines and mobile phones all over the world. Calls to landlines in Europe, North America, Australia and many countries in Asia cost just over 1p per minute. Prices to other countries and mobile phones abroad are also extremely competitive.

While Skype and other similar services represent excellent value for money, perhaps the most exciting aspect of internet calling are the extra features that the technology allows. For example, for about £3 a month you can rent a UK landline number and receive calls from telephones and mobiles directly to your PC through Skype, even if you are on the other side of the world. Other features include video calls, sms messaging and call recording.

Possibly the main disadvantage of internet calling and services like Skype is that a basic knowledge of computers will be needed to get the most out of the technology, so they are not for everyone.

That said, internet calling packages from companies like BT and Vonage are becoming increasingly user friendly and can also offer significant savings. These services need a minimum amount of setup and allow you to make and receive calls directly through your standard telephone.

While the technology is still relatively new, internet calling has already emerged as a very real alternative to traditional telephone services. Whether you decide to switch to internet calling or to decide to use it along with your existing telephone service, it will almost certainly save you money.

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