Saving money with VoIP: a guide to the best services

Work out what's what in the world of VoIP

We've already looked at the best dual-mode VoIP phones currently on the market, but there's still a confusing array of voice over IP service options. Like traditional telephony, VoIP isn't limited to a single provider. Unlike traditional telephony, not all of these services are compatible with the same phones in the same way. The best choice often depends on an individual's situation — for example, their Internet service provider, preferred phone and usage habits.

Skype

The proprietary system that everyone has come to love, Skype is an easy option. It's easily accessible, has a wide user base and there are a number of compatible dedicated and dual-mode VoIP phones.

Skype-to-Skype calls are free, making it the perfect choice for those who already have an established network of friends on Skype. You can call people with Skype-compatible VoIP phones, or call a friend using the Skype software on a PC.

However, calling landlines is a different matter. Although Skype-to-Skype is free, SkypeOut isn't. National landline calls in Australia are fairly cheap at 3.1c a minute, but things might get slightly costly if you're calling a lot of mobiles — at 30.4c a minute, it isn't necessarily the cheapest VoIP option available.

Windows Live Messenger

Microsoft's instant messaging network is home to nearly 260 million users. Still, there's a good chance your bank or insurance company isn't one of them. Given that Windows Live Messenger is a closed network, users will only be able to call fellow Windows Live Messenger contacts rather than phoning landlines as well. It is free, and a good option if you have enough contacts. However, even with a stylish Messenger-compatible phone like Philips' VOIP433 (Windows Live Messenger), you may find yourself using the landline more than the actual VoIP capability.

Session Initiation Protocol (SIP)

SIP is currently the most popular protocol for use with VoIP, and there are a number of local options that make IP-based telephony a strong competitor with traditional landlines. These options are largely third parties that provide VoIP capability over a user's existing broadband line. This does mean that VoIP data will probably count towards the user's data allowance, though typically VoIP requirements are miniscule at around 10MB per hour.

Freshtel is one of the bigger SIP companies, and it offers a variety of plans. Its most basic plan has no monthly costs and is free to sign up to. It offers 12.5c untimed calls to Australian landlines, and 27.5c per minute calls to mobiles. International rates are 1.8c per minute, making it a good choice for users who plan on regular international calls.

Pennytel is quickly gaining a reputation for some of the cheapest VoIP rates on the market. The provider's two cheapest plans are free of monthly subscription charges, and incur a call rate of 1.6c per minute for national landline calls or 8c per minute untimed. Pennytel's biggest drawcard is its mobile call rate, which is a very reasonable 10.5c per minute.

Engin is yet another option for SIP-based VoIP telephony. Plans start at $9.95 per month and include 10c untimed landline calls and 27c per minute mobile call rates. International call rates start at 1.9c per minute. The $19.95 per month Engin Home Plus plan offers free national and international calls to eight countries, and mobile rates drop to 22c per minute.

ISP-based VoIP

The most anticipated service to hit the Australian broadband market since the launch of ADSL2+ is 'Naked DSL'. Naked DSL is an effective way of allowing users to eradicate line rental charges by relying just on VoIP and broadband packages.

Although Telstra and Optus do provide some form of VoIP service, the majority of ISP-based VoIP packages are being provided by the larger third party ISPs, including iiNet, TPG and Internode. Each offers a variety of VoIP services that aren't limited to their broadband customers. If you want the best deals, there's a good chance you'll save a decent amount of money by combining an ISP's VoIP package with their broadband offering.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

James Hutchinson

Good Gear Guide
Comments are now closed.

Latest News Articles

Most Popular Articles

Follow Us

GGG Evaluation Team

Kathy Cassidy

STYLISTIC Q702

First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni

STYLISTIC Q572

For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Steph Mundell

LIFEBOOK UH574

The Fujitsu LifeBook UH574 allowed for great mobility without being obnoxiously heavy or clunky. Its twelve hours of battery life did not disappoint.

Andrew Mitsi

STYLISTIC Q702

The screen was particularly good. It is bright and visible from most angles, however heat is an issue, particularly around the Windows button on the front, and on the back where the battery housing is located.

Simon Harriott

STYLISTIC Q702

My first impression after unboxing the Q702 is that it is a nice looking unit. Styling is somewhat minimalist but very effective. The tablet part, once detached, has a nice weight, and no buttons or switches are located in awkward or intrusive positions.

Resources

Best Deals on GoodGearGuide

Compare & Save

Deals powered by WhistleOut
WhistleOut

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?