Phoning over the net can save a fortuneComputing Which? looks at six Voip services

13 July 2006

Making phone calls over the internet is becoming increasingly popular and can save consumers a fortune, says Computing Which?.

In its latest issue the magazine examines how customers can use their PC as a telephone with the services Voip (Voice over internet protocol) provides. 

Services are free to other PC users with the same software, and some providers give the option to upgrade with a paid service to make cheap calls to standard landline numbers.

In an assessment of six free Voip services, Computing Which? looked at how easy they were to set up, how effective they were and the range of their features.

It found that Skype came top for its fuss-free approach, easy set-up and exceptional voice clarity, while Sipgate, MSN, and Yahoo! provide an audio 'wizard' that optimises sound levels.

Choice of the future

But Google Talk was less helpful, with audio level indicators only kicking in once the call had been initiated.

Yahoo! Messenger provided some of the best ranges of features, including the option of landline calls, webcam chats, instant messaging, voicemail and conference calls.

However, Babble.net was let down by its poor help files and software bugs.

Computing Which? Editor Jessica Ross said: 'Using your PC as a phone can be so cheap – often even free – that pricey landline and mobile bills could be in danger of becoming extinct.  With mobile phone services entering the broadband market, Voip looks set to be the choice of the future.'