VoIP for the masses internet telephone calls become easier
By Sven Appel Apr 16, 2006, 17:13 GMT
Hanover Internet telephone calls are no longer just for computer freaks. Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) can now be used without even turning on the computer.
Several manufacturers, including online service providers, offered new gadgets and services at CeBIT last month.
No special telephone is needed to use VoIP, just a broadband internet connection like DSL and a router with internet and telephone connections.
Normally, the router is configured by the computer user with an online browser. Once completed, the process allows VoIP connections with providers like Sipgate, Freenet or Web.de.
Jaroslav Smycek of the Hanover-based Consumer Centre in Lower Saxony, says while the process is easy, 'Of course, you should have a little technical skill.'
The Gigaset C450 IP from Siemens can make life a little easier. The cordless telephone costs 100 euros (121 dollars) and its base station can be wirelessly connected to routers. The telephone's menu allows the user to pick a specific internet provider. After that, the machine automatically makes any additional settings.
The Berlin-based manufacturer AVM is already pushing multiple VoIP-capable devices. The AVM FT 7150 D is a cordless telephone meeting German technical standards. But the telephone can be connected to a computer or a router by WLAN or Ethernet. Along with contemporary broadband connections, it will also support the new ADSL2+- standard. The device should be on the market this year.
AVM is also coming out with the Fritz! Mini. The device looks like an iPod and works as a portable MP3 player, but also does more. The VoIP-capable telephone can connect to the internet without a PC, allowing users to call up e-mails and use the RSS function to pull news from the internet. The WLAN device should be in stores by the third quarter of 2006.
Despite all the new devices, the VoIP world is not free. DSL and telephone are still bundled in Germany. Even if users make all their calls using VoIP, they still have to pay a basic rental fee for their landline. Thus, VoIP only makes financial sense for users who already have a DSL connection, says Smycek.
Then the user has to decide whether VoIP or ordinary telephone calls are cheaper. Calls with a VoIP connection are often almost free, if made to another VoIP phone. But calls to landlines can be pricey and since most users' friends have landlines, costs can rack up. However, there is hope.
'The prices for VoIP calls to a landline are moving toward the level of reduced rate calls,' says Peter Knaak of Stiftung Warentest, a Berlin-based consumer guide.
To bring VoIP costs down, backers are trying to cut the cost of technology. Here again, customers with new DSL contracts have an advantage as providers are routinely throwing in free or sharply reduced routers or telephones with the contracts.
Arcor announced at CeBIT that it would soon release a cell phone that can use a WLAN connection for VoIP calls. The so-called dual mode mobile phone operates like a traditional mobile outside internet hotspots. Such offers could replace landlines someday as people can make VoIP calls from home and use the mobile network when on the go.
T-Com also plans a dual phone called T-One for release this summer. Tiscali is offering a telephone flat rate with a cordless telephone from Hagenuk. But there is an advantage to having both VoIP and a landline.
'Then you don't need ISDN any more,' says Smycek. After all, VoIP allows more than one telephone call at a time.© 2006 dpa - Deutsche Presse-Agentur