Internet phone calls gain popularity - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Internet phone calls gain popularity

Todd Kingman Todd Kingman
Viiu Lawyer Viiu Lawyer

By Paul Drewes - bio | email

HONOLULU (KHNL) - During these difficult economic times, some are talking about a cheaper way to talk.  Most of us are plugged into the internet with computers. But by going online, some have found an inexpensive way to make phone calls.

Viiu Lawyer likes to talk on the phone.  To her friends on the mainland and across the world. So you can imagine what her phone bill would be like.

"Back when calls were more expensive we paid like 30,40,50 dollars for international calls to Estonia," said Lawyer, who lives in Kailua.

That was before Skype, one of the many different types of Voice Over Internet Protocol services - known as VOIP.

Now, Lawyer no longer worries about the price of a call when she's on the phone.

"Its very low cost, just pennies a minute," she said. "You can call all over the world with very little cost , its great!"

Internet phone service uses the world wide web like physical phone lines.

"It is the future, it is where we're heading. But there are a lot of pros and cons with VOIP," said Todd Kingman, the general manager of SuperGeeks.

One of the biggest benefits is cost.  Some services are free, if you are only connecting to a user on another computer.

While others charge a flat yearly fee or deep discount per minute. But these phones are only as reliable as your internet provider.

"With a regular phone system if the power goes out your phone stays on. On the internet, not only can a power outage knock out your phone service so can your internet going out," said Kingman.

Those concerns don't stop Lawyer from loving her Internet phone.  She's even upgraded to a model that doesn't keep her tied to her computer.  And, she's thinking of getting rid of her old land line for good.

"We're getting to the point where we wonder 'why do we have our regular phones' and 'what do we really need it for at this point?'" added Lawyer.

For those who may be interested in using their computer to make phone calls, experts advise you to research both local and national companies, to find the one that is right is for you. And just a reminder, while VOIP works on broadband and DSL hookups, it does not work on dial-up, because the speeds are too slow.

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