I have been pondering means of communication while over in China. At first thought, a local landline there seemed reasonable or even a China Mobile cell phone for calls. However, I have been introduced to grand world of Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP) calling. This up and coming technology has been made possible by the advent of high speed (broadband) internet across the globe. The technology uses the infrastructure of the internet to carry calls. The only catch is that your computer (and internet connection for that matter) must be on and your phone must be connected in some way to your computer.
I use a free application called Skype. This program competes with pay services like Vonage. With Skype, I can make free calls to anywhere in the world, so long as both parties have Skype. I pay a small fee (2.3 cents a minutes to any major destination on the globe) to call out and $15 to have a Skype number (of my choosing) so others can call me from a regular phone. This low-cost method is the boon of global non-profits saving every last cent.
While I haven’t had a chance to test it in China with the Shantou University broadband (which is supposedly very good for the country), I have tested it with local and long-distance numbers here in the U.S. The quality is reasonably good. No worse than a cell phone for sure. The best thing, however, is that it is so easy to set up. Plug a microphone headset into the computer’s sound card and it’s ready.
So, go ahead! Give me a call on Skype. My number is 415-508-3932. If you’ve been converted already or just want to try it out download Skype and give me a call using my username: ryanocerosk. Have fun playing around with it.