Thursday 28 June 2007

Skype Pro and the advance of internet VOIP telephony

Recently, over the last four or so years, voice over IP has become a reality. The systems behind this were mooted as far back as the 1990s and the technology has also been used in business to business voice conferencing products for many years prior to that. However it is only recently that the average man in the street has been able to use voice over IP telephony and to experience the global benefits of it. There are several competing systems, technologies, protocols and standards. The one company whose name is on everybody's lips is Skype. Skype was the first voice over IP (known as VOIP) provider to make it easy. Before Skype, one could use a telephony client (often using SIP or H.323) but it was complicated. You could not find a friend who lived next door. So, Skype changed all this and made it possible for anyone to contact people they knew very easily. Skype also had exceptional sound quality; before Skype, it was quite normal for Internet telephony phone calls to sound scratchy or distorted or simply break up. Scope changes this.

I use Skype for all of my business calls; I use it for my personal calls; I even use it for sending text messages, because it is far faster to type in a text message than press tiny buttons on a tiny telephone keypad.

Now, there are several reasons why one should use Skype instead of that plain in old telephone system line on your desk. Firstly, Skype can be cheaper: this is certainly true in the UK, and is also true in the US if you are making national calls. As soon as you start making international calls, Skype becomes even better value for money. For example, the last time I booked a holiday to Egypt, I used Skype to contact all of the businesses and tourism suppliers I would be using over there in order to understand the best products and best experiences for me. This allowed me to get much more out of the holiday.

I would recommend buying the Skype Pro product. For £1 50 per month, this gives almost unlimited free landline calls and in some countries, mobile calls. Note there is a small connection fee for each call which I recollect, in the UK, is 3.6 pennies.

It is also important not to underestimate the productivity improvements coming from not having to dial telephones numbers the whole time and Skype is the equivalent of having unlimited speed dials as I simply select the name or number from my list press call and hey presto, I am connected with a second. And I do not have to type in the numbers or experience misdialled numbers any more.


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