Nowadays I use Skype – they have made great advances in terms of quality and are able to offer ‘business class’ quality connections almost all the time.
However the real reason for the change from another provider was not quality but because Skype is not just a cheap phone call provider but rather an integrated communications system.
This may not be overly important to the ardent swain who wants the cheapest way to hear the voice of his imagined best beloved in some remote corner of a muddy place, but I can do lots of fun stuff with Skype.
For example, I can keep watch on my contacts and when they become available drop a chat message which can then turn into a voice call. Video conections are standard and made at the touch of a button. Whilst calling I can still use text messages to support the call, or to deal with other people. Then, when necessary I can add other people to the call – again seamlessly.
When I need to I can share my desktop with other Skype users, very handy when showing a product off or making a training point. There is no need for additional systems such as GoToMeeting, although I DO use GTM as well for seminars and the like.
Of course I have Skype telephone numbers in several countries, not often used, but handy to have.
I have just installed (but not yet managed to make work) a translation system that gives instant translations of chat threads.
Because I work across a large number of time zones I need to maintain a high degree of availability whilst retaining the capability of having a life. To help with this I have my Skype voice calls forwarded on no answer to my other phones. So, if I am not on one of my computers then I do not miss the call, after a few rings my mobile and landlines ring and I take the call. Most users do not know that I am not by a computer.
Is Skype the cheapest provider of international calls? No they are not. However, there is always somebody willing and able to undercut the next cheapest supplier of a good. If you always seek the cheapest then you will always be changing supplier and the cost of making thiose changes is a cost that should be added to the cost of the cheap supplier.
I can not justify buying the cheapest, yet I can not afford the price of a full on business communication system – I also don’t need the infrastructure.
But as a communication system the price is REALLY low. To my mind the only caveat I have is that I have not yet been able to interface my DECT handset to Skype as per Delta3/IConnectHere. I may simply have to bite the bullet and buy a cordless Skype phone instead, at the moment I often let the calls ring thru to my cordless landline which is not the most cost effective way of working.
Oh, one last thing, Skype is now becoming available through mobile networks, albeit that one still must pay the mobile network fees, this will be a real convenince as currently I have to use Trufone to do this job, a second account, different numbers and extra money. This menas I can use my WiFi enabled mobile to make VOIP calls wherever I am, whether in a WiFi zone or using the cellular network.