Friday, 13 June 2008

Yes, you can talk to anyone in the world for free!

If you don't have a broadband Internet connection then you are missing out on the possibility of talking to your friends and family around the world - for free. There are many ways to do this, but the most well known - possibly because it was the first - is Skype. Skype allows you to call anyone with an Internet connection - absolutely free - from anywhere in the world. You can talk for as long as you want and if you have a web-cam, then video calls are yours for the taking.

All you need to get started is a computer with a broadband Internet connection and a microphone and speakers. Optionally you may add a headset, or a USB phone that simply plugs into your computer. The software can be downloaded free and within a few minutes you could be ready to start talking.

Many other chat options - such as MSN or Google Chat - allow you to do the same. Voice quality is generally good, but at times there may be a delay before hearing the response.

The only limitation is that the people that you want to talk to must be linked to the Internet and have their Skype connection running. It is possible to call a land-line phone from Skype. A facility called Skype-Out allows you to prepay units. The facility allows for almost free calls to phones around the world.

With the great technology available on the latest generations of cell phones, mobile VoIP has become a reality. VoIP using the Skype, Google Talk and other VoIP networks is readily available for most of today's higher end phones. Get your own back for exorbitant cell phone charges by using your cell phone to make free international calls.

Skype has been struggling to produce a Symbian version of its software. Their system only works on two Nokia phones. For everything else, another solution is necessary. It is called Fring. Fring can be installed onto any cell phone that uses the Symbian or Windows Mobile operating systems.

Fring is both more than Skype and less. Fring brings together all the different VoIP computer interfaces - Skype, Google Talk, Twitter, MSN and others. It allows you to use voice calling and text messaging using any of these systems. Unfortunately, video-calls are not available. Not yet.

Using the system over a 3G cellphone network is less than ideal:

  • Firstly, there is a built in latency of about 1 second which can be irritating.
  • Secondly, the cost of using data using cell phone technology is still high - no matter what the cell phone companies say!
  • Thirdly, I have heard it said that the South African cell companies charge more than just the data charges if the technology is used for VoIP. I find this hard to believe - and eagerly await a denial of this practice from the Cell Phone Companies.

The ideal solution is therefore to connect the cell phone to the Internet using a wireless ADSL connection. Many of the newer phones can connect to a WLAN. This gives you the best of both worlds. Mobile Skype with good speeds and crystal clear sound!

To install Fring, simply browse to on your phone, select the download option and follow the instructions. Alternatively, follow the link on your computer and enter the required details. You will receive an SMS on your phone - just follow the directions.

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