VoIP, which stands for voice over Internet protocol, allows users to make telephone calls over the Internet. This eliminates the need for a landline and bypasses the telephone companies that tend to charge large fees for long distance calling. Many services, including Skype, offers free computer-to-computer calling. For those who want to use VoIP to call landlines or cell phones, there are several services available, including Yahoo! Voice Phone Out and Skype Out.
As of the time of publication, Yahoo! Voice Phone Out offers calling within the United States at a rate of 1.9 cents per minute while Skype Out charges 2.3 cents to the contiguous U.S. states and Hawaii and 6 cents to Alaska. Both services charge a connection fee for every call that is just under 4 cents per call. Rates for calls to other countries vary, but overall Yahoo! Voice Phone Out tends to be less expensive per minute than Skype Out. Calls to toll-free numbers are free-of-charge on both services. For serious users, Skype Out offers unlimited calling plans for a flat monthly fee starting at $2.99 for unlimited calling to the U.S. and Canada and going up from there depending on what countries you wish to call, and whether you want to call landlines and cell phones or just landlines.
Skype Out requires users to download Skype's software, which is free and features an easy-to-use interface. Yahoo! Voice Phone Out works through the company's Yahoo! Messenger software. For users who are not very computer savvy but who have learned how to use Yahoo! Messenger, Yahoo's VoIP service allows them to make and receive calls over the Internet without having to learn how to use a new program.
Both services typically experience delays during calls as data packets transmit over the Internet. The length of the delays depend on several factors, including which country you're calling and your Internet connection speed, so they will vary from call to call. Inferior voice quality is another issue commonly experienced when using VoIP.
Neither service allows users to make emergency calls, such as those to 911. For this reason, it is important for all Yahoo! Voice Phone Out and Skype Out users to have a landline or cell phone so they can contact emergency services in the event of an emergency.
- Thomas Northcut/Photodisc/Getty Images