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Talk Is Cheap by James E Gaskin

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Chapter 2. Your Internet Phone

All telephones and services making calls across the Internet are not the same. Huge differences exist in the features available to you depending on the type of service you get.

There are no adequate general terms used to describe the two different Internet Telephony approaches available today. So I decided to make up my own terms:

Phone-centric

This phone service duplicates the experience of traditional phone service you are used to with your traditional phone, and focuses on the phone, since that’s what you touch and talk into. You can use your current telephone if you get an adapter that plugs your telephone into your broadband service. You may even be able to keep your existing telephone numbers. The leading company following this model is Vonage.

Computer-centric

This phone service creates a new method of talking between two people and bypasses the traditional telephone companies almost completely. Your contact point is the computer, either with a headset or a telephone that plugs into your computer. The leading company following this model is Skype.

Table 2-1 shows a quick comparison between the two types of service available. Generally, phone-centric looks much more like the telephone system you’re used to, while computer-centric offers lower cost and new features for users who rely most on their computer (desktop or portable).

Table 2-1. Capabilities of the different Internet phone systems

Capability

Phone-centric

Computer-centric

Free calls ...

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