VOIP (Voice Over IP)

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Over the last couple of months I have also jumped on the VOIP bandwagon.VOIP is not a new concept , it has been there for a while where in if both the parties are on a computer there have been various providers who have offered free services.But in the last 1-2 years the market for Phone - to Internet and then to a land line has picked up.
There are various options to choose from expensive month to month contracts or the pay-as you go kind.
There are many providers in the market and the best thing about VOIP is that since it is based on Internet , the provider can be from any location around the world.
Now to use VOIP either you need a headset and a computer or you can use the traditional phone along with a device called  ATA(Analog Telephone Adapter).
The ATA device is the one who will provide a dial tone to  your traditional cordless or corded phone and it is also responsible for converting voice into data and then transferring it over the Internet to a VOIP service provider.The VOIP service provider in turn converts the data into voice and sends it to a PSTN i.e. a traditional phone number on the other side.

US-based VOIP Providers
  1. Vonage(month-to month)
  2. Sunrocket(month-month or Annual Subscription)
  3. Broadvoice(month-to month)
  4. Stanaphone(pay-as you go)
  5. Gizmo Project(pay-as you go)
  6. Free World Dialup(Free Provider , currently no subscription)
Europe-based VOIP Providers
  1. Wengo
  2. VoipStunt
Hardware to use
  1. Either a computer with a headset
  2. Or and ATA device with a cordless/corded phone
A note on hardware devices
In the US most of the VOIP providers provide the ATA device free of charge with their month-to-month subscription plan or for Annual subscription plan.In the above list Vonage/Sunrocket and broadvoice all provide ATA devices which are locked to their service.These devices can be unlocked , there are various threads on Broadbandreports.com where people have posted tools/techniques and how-to's to unlock these devices and use it with any VOIP providers.
You can even buy unlocked ATA devices from Ebay or from sites like Voxilla.These devices can be used with any service providers.Various devices like Packet8 DTA 310, Linksys PAP2, D-Link VTA VR and many others have been unlocked and their information is published on Broadbandreports.com.

Most of the providers do not support unlocked devices.They just want to lock you into their service and then slam on a big termination charge.Vonage and Sunrocket does not support any devices which are not bought from them.They obviously want to lock you in.

Broadvoice/Stanaphone/GizmoProject/FWD all support you buying your own devices and they allow you to use it on their network.Obviously as Im a believer in freedom I have chosen to go with Gizmoproject.

My VOIP ProviderSince I prefer not to have any contracts or termination fee or any sign up fees I have chose GizmoProject as my VOIP provider.It is a pay-as you go service provider , more like calling cards.
It has been about 6-8 months that I have used them and Im pretty happy with the quality of phone calls.Unfortunately their calling rates to India are pretty high and hence for calling to India Im still using Reliance India call.I have not found any VOIP provider which is cheaper then Reliance and which is pay-as-you go kind.

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