Mention VoIP to a pal in a pub and they’ll probably nod then go glassy-eyed in a way that suggests that they’ve heard the term before, and they should know what it means, but they’re essentially in the dark.
Let’s be honest, it’s industry jargon – so here’s everything you need to know:
What is VoIP?
VoIP stands for Voice over Internet Protocol. You might also occasionally hear the terms Voice over Networks, Voice over Broadband or Internet Telephony, but they all refer to the same thing.
Put simply, VoIP is a form of technology which lets you make free (or extremely cheap) calls over the internet. You can use VoIP to call any telephone number in the world and other people can use it to call you too, regardless of what equipment or network both parties usually use.
With some VoIP apps you can also receive voicemail through VoIP, voicemail via email and useful phone functionality, like call divert.
How does it work?
Without getting too techy, VoIP converts your voice into digital information that can be sent over the internet, like any other piece of data.
What do you need to use VoIP?
You can enjoy making free calls with most modern-day PCs, laptops and smartphones.
If you’re using VoIP for business, it may be more advisable to plump for a purpose-built VoIP phone, but in reality, all you need for VoIP is a broadband connection.
Free VoIP apps - 6 of the best.
Viber is very similar to Skype, but it has its own advantages. Though it can be downloaded to a desktop, Viber was primarily designed for mobile use, unlike Skype. That means, if you’re going to make the majority of your VoIP calls on your mobile, you’d probably get a better user experience with this service.
You can make video calls too, but Tango really specializes in messaging and social connection, so this is a good alternative to WhatsApp. Its plus point is that it’s a multi-platform app, so you don’t have to worry which devices your friends have when you want to share music, photos and videos. Reports suggest there can be delays with the video connections, so if you’re planning on making a lot of video calls, you may want to look elsewhere.
Vyke’s strong point is that it offers multiple services of equally high quality across many mobile and device types. It basically covers the whole market, but isn’t compatible with Macs.
Although Vyke doesn’t offer video calls and the calls with this app aren’t free, the rates are still really cheap. And at least you know you’ll be getting a great quality service.
And because we know that sometimes it’s difficult to get a good signal when you’re indoors, we’ve created Three inTouch. It’s a free app that lets you call and text whenever you’re on Wi-Fi in the UK, even if there’s no mobile signal. Check out our page on Three inTouch for more info.
With a plethora of services to choose from and incredibly fast 4G at your fingertips for no extra cost, staying in touch with your loved ones has never been easier. You’ll just have to think of some better excuse for hanging up on Granny then…