We have selected our top free or cheap online telephone and communications services.
There is no reason you should be paying carrier rates for your calls. There are many fee online telephone services which can slash your bills. Here are some we have used.
We use Skype as our main means of communicating with our team members, suppliers and customers. This is mainly because all these people already use the service; it is not because it is the best voice or video application. Last year the service went down for three days so you should have a backup plan. If you don’t have to use Skype consider one of the options below.
Skype calls between computers are free. Calls from a computer to a normal phone or mobile are charged at low rates, for which you have to buy credits. This service is called SkypeOut. You can also buy a Skype phone number (30 Euros/yr) which allows people to call you on your computer. This can be useful as it means you can take phone calls on any computer anywhere in the world. This service is called SkypeIn.
- Biggest user base by a long way
- Owned by eBay so will continually be improved
- Very easy to use
- Uses a lot of YOUR computer processing power even when you are not making calls
- Call quality poor at busy times
- Has had reliability problems
- Cancelled thousands of UK 0207 telephone numbers, which was a disaster for many businesses
Oovoo’s main focus is video chat which they do very well. If video is a priority for you this is probably the best free service available. The quality is excellent, it allows up to six participants and has lots of nice add-on features (dial-in to video calls, record video calls, special effects). Worth a try.
Easy to install
Good multi-user video calls (up to 6 people)
Good video and clear audio
Free at the moment, but may introduce fees
Only allows phone calls in the USA or Canada
Jajah offers the chance to make entirely free PC-to-PC VoIP calls and a limited number of free calls to and from landline phones. You visit Jajah’s website, then enter your phone number and the number you want to call. Your phone rings and you answer, after which your recipient’s phone rings and Jajah completes the call. It’s a neat application that’s easy to use
- Very simple to use
- Free between Jajah users. Global calls at local rates for all other calls
- Jajah direct allows you to call without a PC
- Ceiling on free calls limits usefulness for high-volume callers
- Some complaints about calls being cut off
- Business users pay
VBuzzer is a limited me-too service which doesn’t really offer any advantages over the other players. Calls between vBuzzers are free, anywhere in the world. ‘BuzzOut calls are charged at local rates which are no better than Jajah,
- Works with older computers
- Currently available only for Windows 2000 and XP
- No real advantages over other solutions
Openwengo is one for the techies. WengoPhone is an open source community creating a range of services for communications via IP.
- Flexible open source software solution which can be tailored to your needs
- Only suitable for programmers
The website is very unclear about what you pay for and what is free, so tread carefully. It appears that there are free calls to around 35 countries (out of 300 – US included, UK excluded), plus free calls to mobiles in the U.S., Puerto Rico and Hong Kong. VoipBusterPro (www.voipbusterpro.com/en/) claims to offer a year worth of free unlimited calls for 10 Euros, but adds in the small print there is a 3.9 euro cents connection fee for every call. Too unclear about what is ‘free’ to be my choice.
VoipBuster is owned by a German company, Betamax Gmh. They also run the websites SipDiscount, Voipstunt, Internetcalls, Sparvoip.de, Poivy, Netappel, Voipdiscount, WebCallDirect and Voipcheap.co.uk. They offer the same service at different rates.
Free calls to 35 destinations. Cheap rates to other. Check before calling
Confusing idea of “free.”
Some complaints about credit being removed from accounts if unused for 90 days
Minimum credit 10 Euros
Why do they have lots of websites all offering different prices?
There are dozens of online services now offering free or cheap global telephone calls. There is no reason for anyone to be paying carrier call rates.
My recommendations are:
For reach and number of users – Skype
For video communications - Oovoo
Phone-to-phone service - Jajah