Phone calls over internet
VOIP ('voice over internet protocol') allows you to make phone calls via your internet connection instead of through the phone lines. Calls made over VOIP cost less than made over conventional phone systems. Skype is one well-known VOIP service.
If you need to make a lot of long-distance calls – your clients or staff spread across a large catchment, for example – your organisation might benefit from using VOIP.
A brief introduction to VOIP and case study follows.
There are two ways to use VOIP to make and receive calls:
- with a headset and microphone plugged into a computer – a 'DIY' set-up
- with a conventional telephone handset – usually requires professional set-up.
Calls via VOIP are cheaper than land-line and mobile calls. However, a VOIP system may require administrative work than a conventional system (more time spent allocating costs for reporting purposes).
Call quality is somewhere in between that of a land-line and a mobile-phone. (Although quality has increased in recent times.)
VOIP requires a fast, reliable internet connection with uncapped downloads, unlimited time restrictions and good technical support. (You will likely pay more for such a service.)
- Weigh up costs versus call quality.
- Consider using it on a trial basis before committing.
- Consider using a combination of VOIP and conventional phone lines – VOIP for outgoing calls and conventional lines for incoming.
New England and Western Tenants Advice and Advocacy Service (NEWTAAS) covers the north western and far westen regions of NSW. It has offices in Armidale, Dubbo and Broken Hill. Its phone bill for 2005–06 was $18,000.
After some investigation, NEWTAAS took up VOIP. The projected savings were $4500 a year. Investigation included:
- analysys of current phone costs
- comparison of phone costs versus the predicted costs of VOIP
- analysis of internet costs
- finding an appropriate broadband internet service provider
- choosing a VOIP provider
- choosing a hardware setup.