VoIP Services and Applications

Skype and Its Alternatives

A softphone is a piece of software that simulates the functionality of a phone on a computer: it makes phone calls to other computers or phones. It can also receive calls from other computers or phones.

Not all VoIP service providers are hardware-based like Vonage and AT&T. Many providers offer VoIP service through the PC, very often starting with PC to PC calls and extending to PC-Phone calls. Among these, some provide a softphone application along with the service, while others offer the service through their web interface. Most people using VoIP do so via softphone applications and services, like Skype for example, which is the most popular software-based VoIP service provider.

Below is a list of some of the most common VoIP softphone services and applications:

  • Skype: Skype is the most popular of all softphones, with hundreds of millions of subscribers worldwide. The Skype community is well developed on the web. Skype is also a VoIP service provider. PC to PC calls are free while PC to Phone calls (SkypeIn and SkypeOut) are paid. Skype's prices have taken a slight rise compared to other services of its like. The application is downloadable for free at www.skype.com
  • VoIPStunt: VoIPStunt is similar to Skype and Gizmo, with the difference of offering free calls to landline/mobile phones in a number of countries. Its rates are quite low and it is another competitor for Skype. The application can be downloaded free at www.voipstunt.com.
  • Fring: Fring is one of the best VoIP software applications and services for mobile phones. Installed on a mobile phone, it allows completely free phone calls to any PC and mobile phone over the world. Any mobile having Fring, Skype, MSN Messenger, ICQ, Google Talk, SIP, VoIPStunt installed can be contacted. Fring works only on 3G, GPRS or Wi-Fi smartphones.
  • Bria: The full name is Bria Multimedia Communicator, and it is the latest product from CounterPath Solutions. It goes one big step further than its brother X-Lite; it supports voice and video over IP. The features are numerous and much advanced. Unlike X-Lite, Bria is not free.
  • Raketu: Raketu has both its web interface and an application to download and install. Same services as with Talkster, but it has an impressive list of features, which include voicemail, conferencing, integrated media player etc. It is also interoperable with other instant messengers. Free call is allowed on trial but its span is quite limited.
  • Jaxtr: With Jaxtr, you can link your mobile phone to your PC. With Jaxtr as well, you can call friends from other messengers like MSN, Yahoo or Google, and who are registered with Jaxtr. When you register online for a free Jaxtr account, you can have unlimited voice messages and worldwide calls to other Jaxtr users.