Videoconferencing has finally gone mainstream. Once limited to big companies that could afford $5,000 videoconferencing terminals, free videoconferencing software such as Skype has made this tool accessible to everyone. This tutorial explains what’s available, and how to use videoconferencing for business or personal use.
Internet telephony (aka VoIP) has dramatically reduced the cost of communication, especially internationally, and has also made it possible to build more flexible and sophisticated business communication systems. However, VoIP systems and services can often be difficult to install and configure, especially on secured computer networks that are designed to prevent unauthorized access. Voice and video calls require a two-way communication path, and that can often conflict with the way computer networks are designed. This tutorial explains how to work around these problems with some simple techniques.
Asterisk is an open source phone system (PBX) that runs on standard computer hardware and can be used to build a wide range of business phone systems and communication services. It is available as both open source (free) and as a a shrink wrapped kit sold by its parent company Digium. With Asterisk you can build anything from a standard small office phone system to a sophisticated, custom built communication service. Continue reading
Conference calling is an essential tool for most businesses, as it reduces the need for travel, or for people to all be in the same place for a meeting. This technology has been around for a long time, and thanks to newer Internet based phone services, it is much cheaper than just a few years ago. You can now organize conference calls with people dialing in from around the world, often for free. This buyers guide explains what options are available and how to get the most out of them at low or no cost.
Not long ago, a phone system was a big investment, even for small businesses. Telephone systems were like mainframe computers, expensive, esoteric boxes that cost upward of $20,000, and did little more than offer basic dial tone. Things have changed dramatically since we started PhoneZone, our first telecommunications buyers guide, in the mid 1990s.
The bottom line, unless you are running a call center, you can outsource your business telephone system just as you do for email, instant messaging, web access, and other forms of communication. Instead of installing expensive and difficult to understand equipment on site, you can order business phone service like any other utility, on a pay as you go basis. Continue reading
By now most people have heard about Internet phone service, or VoIP (voice over IP). This technology routes telephone calls over the same Internet connection you use for email, web browsing and so on. It has been around for some 12 or 13 years now. My first company, PhoneZone, made a good living selling one of the first internet phone products, the Internet PhoneJACK. While companies have come and gone since then, the basic idea behind Internet telephony remains the same. Quality has also improved a great deal since then thanks to advances in the Internet itself. This tutorial explains the basics of Internet phone service, the most popular products and services on the market, and where to go to learn more.