Still Amazed at VoIP
I guess I’m still too new with VoIP because I am still amazed at how powerful this technology is, at least when I stop and think about it.
This morning, I had the displeasure of having to get up at 3:30am this morning in order to catch a 6:15am flight. I have an approximately hour-long drive to Sea-Tac airport. I took the opportunity to chat with someone I had been meaning to talk to for a while–one of the regulars on the Voxilla Forums. The problem is: this person is in Japan. The biggest problem with talking to someone in Japan is the 17 hour time difference. Seeing as how I was up at 4am (which makes it 9pm in Japan), it make for a perfect time to call this person.
Now I know better than to call an international long distance number from my mobile phone. That can be astronomically expensive. Fortunately, this person had a number on both Free World Dialup and Stanaphone. Stanaphone gives you a New York-based telephone number for free and allows you to make PSTN calls at per-minute rates. Incoming calls are free. I called this person’s Stanaphone number from my cell phone, which happened to be free due to “Free Nights and Weekend” minutes that I have on my Cingular phone.
Generally speaking, the call went well. The call was crystal clear most of the time. He could hear the driving rain that I was driving through. He could easily tell when I parked and got out of my car, etc. There were a few abborations, of course, but nothing serious. Were they my cell phone or the VoIP line? A little of both, maybe, but it was more than acceptable for a chat across the Pacific ocean. And it was basically free. Well, not entirely, The broadband connection used cost some money, as does my cell phone. But it did not incur any per-minute charge.
One of things this person and I were discussing was the cost of a phone call between Japan and the US. Back in the early 1980s, it used to cost $3 USD a minute! Nowadays, you can get calling cards for about $0.10 USD a minute. VoIP blows that rate out of the water by a longshot. You can get a free or low-cost VoIP account with any number of companies and either get free unlimited calling or pay-as-you-go for about $0.02 USD a minute (or less). Furthermore, you can get a US-based telephone number for your family to call you on. This is great for expats living in other countries. Getting the broadband connection necessary to do VoIP in Japan is fairly easy and cheap, so there’s almost no reason not to try it there.
One thing I do on a regular basis is talk to Marcelo. Now this call doesn’t have to travel quite as far as my call to Japan, but the call completely bypasses the PSTN and we can’t tell the difference. In fact, I can call anyone at Voxilla by extension dialing from my house in Port Orchard, despite most of Voxilla being in the San Francisco Bay Area. I simply pick up the handset on my SPA-841 and dial away. I don’t even give it a second thought anymore.
I just wish more people would be willing to take advantage of this wonderful technology. My next step is to get my wife to start using it. I just need to figure out a way to make it transparent to her so she won’t notice.