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Practical Internet Telephony Available?

Cliff posted more than 15 years ago | from the two-cans-and-a-cat5-cable dept.

The Internet 9

Rude Turnip asks: "I've become involved in a long distance relationship (northeast-midwest). My girlfriend and I like to chat on ICQ via text for a while and then head on over to the telephone for sometimes about two hours....This is on literally a daily basis. Needless to say, the long distance charges (even at a dime-a-minute) tend to run high. I'm considering buying blocks of prepaid LD time from which would only cost me 3.9 cents/minute and going for Sprint's 1000 weekend minutes plan for $25/month. However, I'd like to try talking for free over the net. My experience with voice-over-IP (voip) software like Webphone and Netmeeting has been less than pleasant. I'd like to be able to use a device (like the AplioPhone) that lets me and my girlfriend talk over the internet without too much lag and without too much loss in sound quality. Anybody care to share their experiences with voice-over-IP devices?"

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Try Speakfreely (3)

DarkNova (4131) | more than 15 years ago | (#1687693)

Check out Speakfreely at [] . It's Open Source, has versions for both Windows and Linux, and the versions for both OSs can talk to each other. It may be a lot more complicated than programs like NetMeeting, but with all the options, you can tweak it to get the ideal sound quality for your internet connection. Plus it has built-in encryption. I've used it via 56k modems and while its not quite as good as a normal telephone, it still works great (esp. for the price!). With a faster connection, I'd imagine that you could get better quality than a phone. For new users of this program who are frustrated with lag, I'd suggest changing the Jitter Compensation setting to None so your voice isn't buffered.

Cheap long distance (0)

bmarklein (24314) | more than 15 years ago | (#1687694)

This isn't Internet telephony, but it could help you cut down your regular long distance bill. IDT is offering 5 cents per minute all day for interstate calls in the US, with a $3.95 monthly fee. If you're interested their number is:


I just switched to this plan. They announced it last week, and they seem to be overwhelmed with calls, but you can leave a message and they'll call you back (took about 2 days for me).

Here's a Wired News story [] with more information.

3.5 cents/minute if you use IDT as your ISP (0)

bmarklein (24314) | more than 15 years ago | (#1687695)

By the way, it's 3.5 cents per minute if you use IDT as your ISP. That would be cheaper than I have DSL, so I didn't do this.

Aplio Phone (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1687696)

My boss at work used Aplio to keep in touch with our division in Singapore and it worked really well. He was very happy with it. I used the phone a couple time and had no complaints.

However, depending on how your local connection is and how finicky your ears are, your mileage may very. You should at least check it out though.

MediaRing? (1)

Yumpee (32901) | more than 15 years ago | (#1687697)

Have you tried MediaRing [] ? It's free but runs only on Windows IIRC and is not open-source either. I've used it for international calls (MidWest to India) and so the lag I experienced was understandable (happens on normal phone calls too). Dunno how good it is for long-distance calls within the US. Give it a try.

The Internet PhoneJACK from Quicknet (1)

radset (54682) | more than 15 years ago | (#1687698)

The Internet PhoneJACK and LineJACK from Quicknet Technologies are full-duplex audio cards designed specifically to carry voice over the Internet. They can improve the voice quality of your Internet call and works with your existing analog telephone. They feature Plug and Play installation and zero IRQ operation make it easy to begin making high quality, low cost calls over the Internet.

They're relatively inexpensive, integrate with all the popular software like ICQ, Net2Phone, Netmeeting, Internet Phone etc. and they have an alpha-release of linux drivers as well.

Check them out at You can jump straight to the reviews at: htm

PGPfone (1)

Any_doom?_a_cow_runs (84102) | more than 15 years ago | (#1687699)

The PGP site has a section for PGPfone.

I'm not going to bother using *any* internet phone proggie until I get my adsl line in (sorry, I simply do NOT buy that decent voice will go over POTS analog connections) but good encryption combined with a net phone sounds like a lot of fun.

Anonymous Coward, get it? :)

Re:PGPfone (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1687700)

You don't have to use PGPfone to get encryption as long as you and your confidant are using Windows 95/98/NT. Check into PGPNet (distributed inside the latest MIT Windows PGP version). It lets you secure Internet communications between any two systems. Namely this means you can pick any of the Internet phone programs and have them using security.

Re:PGPfone (1)

jra (5600) | more than 15 years ago | (#1687701)

Well, actually, it's not as bad as you think, Any.

If you take a look at the docos for SpeakFreely, you'll see that the current state of the art in toll-quality vocoders, or at least communications quality, can stuff voice down into 2Kbps.

That will fit down your phone line, believe me.

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