FREE PC-TO-PC SOFTWARE
With a headset or a microphone and speakers, either of these two free apps will let you make free calls over the Internet with your PC.
INTERNET PHONE SERVICES
Consumers and businesses alike will come to appreciate the low monthly rates, useful features, and clear voice quality of an Internet phone service.
Though not the cheapest VoIP service, Vonage offers the features and the call quality needed to replace your traditional telephone service.
Anyone familiar with instant messaging will quickly come to love Skype, a free and easy-to-use P2P Internet phone app.
||SunRocket Internet Phone Service |
SunRocket VoIP offers a plethora of great features for a low price, though we found inconsistencies in voice quality.
||AOL Internet Phone Service|
AOL Internet Phone Service offers supereasy setup, an intuitive online account manager, clear call quality, and an extensive list of call features--though its monthly fees are a bit steeper than those of other Internet phone services.
There are cheaper VoIP services, but AT&T CallVantage is worth it for its host of features and clear calls.
The service is cheap and great for international callers, but until BroadVoice adds 911 support, it's best used only as a second line.
Poor voice quality and an average feature set keep Broadvox Direct from standing out in the crowded VoIP market.
iConnectHere will save you money on your long-distance bill if you can live without consistent call quality and 911 support.
Lingo's low rates and enticing international calling plans are offset by inconsistent call quality.
Packet8 stands out for its E911 support, excellent flat-rate international plans, and its videophone option. Plus, its rates are very competitive.
Verizon VoiceWing is easy to use and feature rich, but it's too expensive compared to other VoIP services.
Voiceglo offers clear calls and reasonable monthly rates but lags behind its competitors in the number of features it provides.
Unless you're a DSL subscriber in the market for a new modem and router, there's not enough to Zoom's Global Village service to recommend it above other VoIP services.
INTERNET PHONE GLOSSARY
A 1994 act that requires telecommunications services to provide wiretapping access. The act specifically excludes information services, so the question is whether VoIP is a telecommunications service, and thus covered by the act, or an information service, and thus exempted. VoIP providers are receiving pressure to comply with the act.
The network of wires, signals, and switches that lets one telephone connect to another anywhere in the world. Some VoIP services provide a gateway from the Internet to the PSTN and vice versa.
Communication protocol that operates similarly to H.323 but is less complex and more Internet- and Web-friendly. Fully modular and designed from the ground up for functioning over IP networks, it can be tailored more easily than H.323 for Internet applications. SIP and H.323 can and do coexist.
See expanded glossary
TIPS & TRICKS
Different Internet phone plans are better for different calling patterns. Shop around.
If you move, take your Internet phone router with you. Your phone number goes with it.
Businesses: sign up for an 800 number.
It's cheap, and it makes you look more professional.
Skype will connect through firewalls, which is a big plus.