5 VOIP alternatives to Skype worth checking out
VoIP is increasingly popular, particularly among businesses looking to hold down phone and travel costs. Two-way video chat is a popular means of communicating with loved ones whether they're a few blocks away, or a few timezones away.
But Skype, despite having 443 million total user accounts and 42.2m daily active users (Q1 2009) is no longer the only VoIP player in the sandbox. Additionally, rumours are rife that it could be shut down altogether in the near future following a row between its creators and its owners, eBay.
A number of other VoIP providers have come online recently, often with slightly different points of emphasis than Skype. Because of this, one of the new VoIP operators may fit your needs better than Skype. Here are five alternatives for computer-based communication you should consider checking out:
1. Vopium. Vopium allows you to save as much as 90% for international calls or SMS from your mobile phone without changing your carrier or SIM card. After you register with Vopium, you download the software to your phone. You can try it out for free, with 30 minutes + 30 SMS to anywhere in the world. You pay your mobile company for the local call, and Vopium for the international call. If you're using Vopium WiFi, you can make free calls and avoid accruing roaming charges when you're out of the country.
2. Gizmo5. Using Gizmo5 to talk to other Gizmo5 users via computer is free. There's no setup fee and no monthly fee. You can call UK mobile phones from your computer for 17p per minute, and UK landlines for 1p per minute. If you use Gizmo on your mobile, you'll pay 33p per minute to other UK mobile phones, and 2.3p per minute to UK landlines.
3. Voipbuster. With Voipbuster software you can make free calls within a network of 36 countries. After you buy credit with Voipbuster, you can call landlines in the approved countries for free. Buying credits gets you up to 120 "Freedays." That means you can call all countries marked as "Free" in the rate list for up to 120 days at no cost. After the 120 days are over, you'll pay the normal rate. Topping up your account will get you more freedays.
4. Oovoo. With Oovoo, two-way video chat is always free, and the video quality is reported to be of decent quality. If you want to have up to six-way video conferencing, you'll pay extra, either by the month, or per use. All you need to get started is broadband connection, a webcam, and a microphone on your PC.
5. Jajah. Jajah's claim to fame is making international calls very inexpensive. Just like Talkster (which deserves a mention), you get a local number for each international contact you have, and you call them as if you're making a local call, regardless of where they are in the world. You can also make calls from the web, either on your desktop/laptop, or from your web-enabled phone.
Do you have a favorite VoIP provider? Let us know who and why in the comments.