Voice Over the Internet ProtocolThe main points for an ordinary, non-technical consumer to note are -
- No computer is needed
- A broadband connection IS necessary
- A normal phone is used
- It is MUCH cheaper than landlines, ESPECIALLY for international calls
- It is the way of the future
In the past I have used Australian Technology Partnerships. I liked this company as it gave me an Australian phone number and my friends could call me as if I was back in OZ. However it did not allow me to make "local" calls overseas.I now use Vonage from America, and all calls except to mobile phones are "free" in the sense that there's a flar-rate monthly chage of around $40 USD (inc tax). My Australian friends just call me, and hang up, incurring a very small charge, thenm hang up and I call them back. I also use Google Voice on my iPhone in America. Calls to non-mobiles are 2 cents per minute and to those countries that charge for incoming mobil calls, 14 cents per minute.
Then of course there's skypeFor a good Australian site that has an up-to-date list of VoIP providers, see whirlpool.net.au.
Aussie expat Linden (Sweden): "The company I use for $5 AUD a month gives you a DID 'direct dial in' (for example a landline phone number where you want it, I chose Melbourne) included in the $5 is the first 100 landline calls (untimed) included each month, to call a mobile 12c a min. I have a second 'Melbourne' phone number on my mobile phone that I can receive or make calls on like as I was in Melbourne. for an extra $5 a year. Both lines use the pool of 100 calls. They do have zero a month, where you just pay $5 a year to have a number to call in on and then your calls. Broadband wise I have found it to use about 20Mb an hour, about the same as 3-4 loads of a webpage like www.news.com.au.
Plans can be found HERE.
You can purchase a little box to plug your existing landline into your broadband, or what I did brought a new cordless phone that can accept normal plug in the wall calls and also VOIP calls. I brought this from CDON online store in Sweden for under $100 AU
My phone bill for 12 months is what I used to pay for 2 months with other services." (August 2012)