How your business can save money with VoIPby Louis Philip
Many of you have probably already heard about VoIP, or voice over IP. This is a technology that allows you to make telephone calls using the internet. From a consumer standpoint VoIP offers significant savings in monthly phone bills and long distance charges.
However, what you are probably only starting to hear about is the significant cost savings that VoIP brings to business's. A recent Business Week article titled "The Power of Us" describes the story of a small 35 employee software firm in Palo Alto, Calif. that uses Skype to make 90% of their 2k$ per month long distance phone bill vanish. This is only one of many similar stories.
So how do you get started? Well, you can either start by checking out the more than 1100 VoIP providers that exists today, doing a careful analysis of all the pros and cons, or you can simply go to http://www.skype.com/ and download Skype.
Skype is essentially the "plug a headset or phone into my computer and it costs me nothing to make telephone calls" option. Skype is free, Skype is easy to use and Skype works. It is completely painless.
Perhaps, if you are like me, you will start using Skype because you want to stop paying for long distance at home. After a while you realize that this would be great at the office. Since you are probably sitting at the computer anyhow, you will find that it is more convenient to simply talk to a colleague on Skype rather that picking up the phone and dialing a number. And that Skype conversation is completely free regardless of where that person is located.. absolutely no cost what so ever!
After you get used to paying nothing for long distance, you will begin discovering some of Skype's other options. As of June, 2005 Skype has the following options:
1) Conference calling, "caller-ID", Call waiting and numerous other similar features.
3) Instant messaging, file sharing and other instant messaging type features.
2) Numerous add-ons or plug-ins, many of them are free, give you additional features such as a Skype Answering machine, Microsoft Outlook integration, even a Video for Skype option. All Skype add-ons can be found at http://www.summitcircle.com/ the largest Skype resource site on the web.
If you decide that you find Skype convenient you may eventually want to consider some of Skype's premium services:
1) Skype Voicemail at ~19$ a year (that is about ~1.50$ per month,
2) Calling "external phone numbers", About 2 cents a minute for almost anywhere on the planet! (Skype to Skype calls are always free)
3) An incoming phone number with almost any area code in the US, England, much of Europe and even in China for around ~39$ a year (that is ~3.50$ per month and they throw in voicemail)
Once you get going with Skype you will find that it starts to grow on you. I haven't replaced my regular phone with Skype but it has become my second phone line and I use it frequently. If you are interested in Skype, then download Skype for free at http://www.skype.com/
Once you have Skype, you can find a Skype phone, add-on or community at http://www.summitcircle.com There you will find all the Skype add-ons (or plug-ins) that you want along with a growing list of Skype business services.
About the Author
Louis Philip is the owner of http://www.summitcircle.com/ where he writes about the world of Skype and maintains the largest Skype resource site on the web. He can be reached by e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org