Voice over Internet protocol was basically a revolution in the world of communications. In addition to deregulation it began to spell the end of the monopolistic control that certain carriers had on long-distance communication and hastened the development and progression of the Internet in general. Part of a larger system that allows us to share files and send text messages across the Internet, VoIP, essentially means that we can communicate with friends or family, business associates or outsourcing team partners on the other side of the world, at very low cost indeed.
Some carriers have chosen to try and combine the familiarity of a conventional landline telephone with VoIP. Companies such as Sipgate for example will route all your calls via the Internet while still allowing you to make use of a telephone handset. However, in the world of online marketing we are far more familiar with systems and solutions that have grown to become household names. In the space of just a few short years Skype has now become the word for talking one-on-one with far-flung contacts either via instant messaging or in person, online. If the other party is equipped with Skype, a free service to download and install, then there is no charge for the call, no matter the distance. Calls on Skype to conventional landlines are significantly less costly than their traditional counterparts and the arrival of programmes such as Skype have forced the legacy carriers to completely review their approach to business.
Nowadays you can load up the best of the VoIP software solutions on to your smart phone as well as your PC. For now, Skype remains the leader even though we are seeing competition from heavyweights such as Yahoo and Google.
Services such as Skype have revolutionised the world of outsourcing and the ability of small business owners to work with virtual assistants, no matter where they may be located. Apart from the fact that you can instant message at no cost with all your outsourcers, the ability to actually “pick up the phone” as it were and talk through any particularly tricky issues at little or no cost again cannot be underestimated.
It’s also possible to find specific applications made for the iPhone and Android system. International calls made or placed to mobile phones can be extremely costly, as we all know. Apps such as Chat Time allow iOS users to call internationally at VoIP prices and the quality is usually first-class. Another iPhone app is iCall, making best use of 3G and Wi-Fi in order to make and receive calls anywhere in your local region at no cost. International calls do generate an associated cost, but once again it is considerably cheaper than what the service carrier itself might otherwise impose.
In the early days, calls placed via Skype were often a little suspect as quality was particularly dependent on the bandwidth, but now the level of consistency is up to par. VoIP has become more and more of an essential tool for small business owners today especially as they seek to remain in touch with international clients and members of their outsourced team.
Have you discovered the joys of Skype? Do you still use a landline or have you joined the ever growing numbers who use VOIP? I’d love to read your comments, please comment below.