Skype Rocks Part 2

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[ 2005-February-10 09:22 ]

I have written a favourable review of Skype before, but recently I have been exploring more of the features of this application. Part of my philosophy on technology is that because I want to be an expert, I need to play with the latest and greatest stuff. As part of that, I decided to give Skype €10 to try their SkypeOut service, which allows you to call telephone numbers via Skype. The primary advantage is that it is very cheap. The quality of calls is usually good, but there is a very short perceptible delay. However, there is a secondary advantage: I can now make calls from my laptop. I am one of those rare individuals who does not own a cell phone, but I nearly always travel with my laptop. Being able to call nearly anywhere in the world as long as I have Internet access is useful. For example, I am currently in the Toronto airport, and I just used Bell's/Air Canada's free wireless Internet to call the person at my destination to make alternate arrangements for getting picked up.

The second Skype feature which is extremely powerful is conference calls. I recently had a four-way conversation with one person in Toronto, one in Texas, and two in Waterloo. This would simply not be possible with traditional phone service, or at least not cheaply. I combined it with my SkypeOut service so only one of the other three people was on Skype; The rest were using their normal telephones.

I am beginning to agree with the common opinion that VoIP is going to be a big deal in the near future. My primary concern at the moment is that to realize its full potential, it cannot get locked up in proprietary providers like Vonage or Skype. We need open standards that make voice over the Internet as good as Skype. We need to allow small, independent businesses to form around a cheap, common voice communication infrastructure.