Cruisers Forum
 


Join CruisersForum Today

Reply
 
Thread Tools Rate Thread Display Modes
Old 12-02-2015, 12:34   #1
Moderator
 
Dockhead's Avatar

Cruisers Forum Supporter

Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: Cowes (Winter), Baltic (Summer) (the boat!); somewhere in the air (me!)
Boat: Cutter-Rigged Moody 54
Posts: 19,743
Let's Compare Experiences with VOIP Providers & Technologies

I have gone over completely to VOIP for international voice calling. I cruise through 10+ countries every year, travel on business to another 10 or 15, and need to call people in a similar number of countries. I know some cruisers hardly use voice comms any more, and more power to them. But I'm not retired and certain things in my work can't be done without international voice comms. And sometimes I have to participate in hours-long conference calls. So voice calling is a big issue for me.

Here are my experiences:

1. Skype. Skype, the original mass market VOIP provider (via "Skype Out"), offers the best quality over the widest variety of connection speeds, in my experience. If I have a difficult connection, this is what I use. It costs around double and sometimes more than that, compared to other VOIP providers. Your account is topped up by automatic charges to your credit card. Skype is a mass market system which allows you practically no control at all over technical parameters, but is dead easy to use for non-technical users. This mass market nature of Skype bothers me sometimes -- like Apple products, it sometimes seems made for idiots. For example, it gives you a fake ring tone even if it has not figured out a connection yet.

2. Rebtel. After my Globaltel account died after a couple of decades (they got out of the business of providing phone service to consumers), I tried Rebtel, which offers VOIP like Skype Out as well as toll-free or local numbers in nearly all countries to use if you don't have an Internet connection. I was not happy with the quality of anything about it and let my account lapse.

3. Freely Call. Freely Call is the service I settled on for SIP-based VOIP. I am generally happy with it. The rates are very good and the quality is mostly fine. You top up your account by buying virtual cards with PayPal -- reasonably convenient, but they don't credit immediately.

4. Zoiper. This is SIP client for Android and Windows (probably other platforms). I'm quite pleased with it. It is a fairly powerful application which gives you a fair amount of control over audio codec and other parameters. With good connections (I find a reasonable 3G connection is enough), you can use uLaw which is really high fidelity, much better than a normal telephone. For a bad connection, the g729 codec uses tiny bandwidth and is still more or less equal to the sound quality on a GSM phone.


There are many aspects of VOIP telephony which I have not yet explored. For example, you can rent, in many cases very cheaply, like $2 or $3 a month, DID numbers in various countries so that people can call you with a local call. I have never really bothered with this as it has never really been a problem for the people I talk with these days to make international calls. For some cruisers, this will be a fantastic feature. While my mother was alive, I had a DID number set up on Globaltel -- an 800 number, in fact, which forwarded calls to whatever mobile phone I was using at the time. It was great for my mom to call me up when she felt like it.

I could also set up a SIP account on my office phone network. Most Cisco and similar office phone systems allow this. This allows you to make a totally free VOIP call into your office any time you want, and if set up properly, I think you can dial out to the normal telephone network as if you were sitting in your office. I have never bothered to do this, but maybe should look into it. One reason I have never done this is that VOIP calling to land lines is so cheap as to be almost free -- usually 1c or 2c a minute. So hardly seems worth the trouble to do it any other way. Even 10 hours of calling every month would cost only $6 or $12 a month or so.
__________________

__________________
Dockhead is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-02-2015, 13:27   #2
֍֎֍֎֍֎֍֎֍֎

Cruisers Forum Supporter

Join Date: Apr 2006
Posts: 13,037
Re: Let's Compare Experiences with VOIP Providers & Technologies

" For example, it gives you a fake ring tone even if it has not figured out a connection yet."
FWIW this is not restricted to Skype. Even AT&T (domestic landlines!) does this, as do most if not all the cellular carriers. The "ringing" that you hear is a totally ersatz thing, because you are no longer connected to an actual circuit where an actual ring tone is being generated and overheard.
The telcos (of all flavors) all play odd tricks and whenever you hold something up to your ear? You may as well be watching, or acting in, The Matrix. You'll randomly get busy or fast busy or other results, when the VOIP provider has run out of connections to the Telco system itself. Mother's Day, Thanksgiving Day, are among the two days when this is most common in the US.


So no matter which option you use? I'd strongly suggest having two distinct VOIP accounts so that you can at least try one when the other craps out--as it will, sooner or later.


I'm told Vonage is one of the most robust (here in the US) which is one reason why they're also among the most expensive. And many folks don't realize, they can use Google Voice if they have a Google account. Reasonable VOIP rates, tied into a free phone number that has extensive calling features, like group ring and answering "machine" pushed by text conversion to email and text messaging. On the downside, there's NO way to turn off the voicemail option, you can only ask your callers not to use it once it comes on.
__________________

__________________
hellosailor is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-02-2015, 13:45   #3
Registered User
 
Mike OReilly's Avatar

Join Date: Sep 2011
Location: Good question
Boat: Rafiki 37
Posts: 4,033
Re: Let's Compare Experiences with VOIP Providers & Technologies

I use Skype for skype to Skype calls. It's good. As a Canadian though, I cannot get a Canadian phone number. They blame it on our regulators, but plenty of other VOIP services offer Canadian phone numbers, so this cannot be true.

I've used a fully-configurable SIP service called Callcentric. I was able to get a Canadian phone number. It was OK, but would drop long calls, and apparently has become more problematic for Canadian service. I found the time gap was up to a second at times, which sometimes made for hard phone chats.

I've recently bought into MagicJack, using just the iPad app. For a fixed annual fee ($20 I think) I can use their app to make unlimited calls to Canada and USA, and can call the rest of the world at very good rates. I can also register a Canadian phone number. I have no access to the controls (codecs, etc.), but so far I'm quite impressed with MagicJack's voice quality and stability. There seems to be almost no delay over the connection. It rings to my iPad when we're online, and delivers voicemail via email. I mostly used it on wifi networks, although I've played a bit on 3G with reasonable success. I don't think it would work on lower data services (Edge). I plan to cruise Canada and the USA with this MagicJack number. So far, I like it.
__________________
Why go fast, when you can go slow.
BLOG: www.helplink.com/CLAFC
Mike OReilly is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 12-02-2015, 14:02   #4
֍֎֍֎֍֎֍֎֍֎

Cruisers Forum Supporter

Join Date: Apr 2006
Posts: 13,037
Re: Let's Compare Experiences with VOIP Providers & Technologies

Mike- Telecom is regulated in all sorts of odd ways. Sometimes by tariff, sometimes by connection type (i.e. to landlines or not) sometimes classed as a data service and tax exempted from "telecommunications" rates and taxes. It is entirely possible Skype are full of, ah, fertilizer. Also entirely possible that Canada would require them to add equipment or make provisions that could change their tax status, or cause other major problems for the system as a whole. Maybe Skype considers themselves as a data service, and Canada won't allow anyone except telephone companies to assign phone numbers. Could be that simple. Even here, our FCC is in the thick of trying to decide what the internet is, and what should be regulated more uniformly. And all anyone can agree on, is that screaming is acceptable.
__________________
hellosailor is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-02-2015, 14:03   #5
Moderator
 
weavis's Avatar

Cruisers Forum Supporter

Join Date: Feb 2014
Location: SEVILLE - MALLORCA
Posts: 10,135
Send a message via Skype™ to weavis
Re: Let's Compare Experiences with VOIP Providers & Technologies

My entire clinic runs through broadband.

I have 2 UK SKYPE numbers and one American. US callers can call the US number for the cost of a local call or free in their phone plan.

I can call to the USA cell network and landlines for free. I can call about 40 countries free on landlines.

If I am out of the office I can pick up the skype call on my smartphone using the 3 network $20 a month 500 minutes calls and texts and unlimited internet. I can also get it on my tablet if in a free wifi area.

A SKYPE number and service costs me about 150 Sterling a year. I believe I save about $5000 a year using it.
__________________
- Never test how deep the water is with both feet -
10% of conflicts are due to different opinions. 90% by the tone of voice.
Raise your words, not your voice. It is rain that grows flowers, not thunder.
weavis is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-02-2015, 14:13   #6
Registered User
 
leftbrainstuff's Avatar

Join Date: May 2011
Location: San Francisco and Australia
Boat: Liberty 458
Posts: 1,978
Re: Let's Compare Experiences with VOIP Providers & Technologies

We had dedicated skype numbers but that service was so flaky we ditched it. Logged numerous support calls but never had a response. There was no way it seems to actually contact support. Could only turn off the auto renew. It was expensive at $80 each line / year. Did hear from them when it expired. (Seriously no customer focus)

We are finding all the consumer internet based calling / voip options to be a pain. Probably for two reasons. 1 the internet is packet based and never designed for low latency voice / visual type services without specialised end points and infrastructure. 2 the web, at least here in the US, gets saturated at times. (The netflix problem)

We travel some but voip to Australia often. Voip has always been hit and miss but the non connections and dropouts have increased markedly in the last year. Skype, hangouts, wattsapp, etc.

Might have to try some of the OP's suggestions. He seems to have better luck.

Sent from my SM-N900T using Cruisers Sailing Forum mobile app
__________________
leftbrainstuff is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-02-2015, 14:17   #7
Moderator
 
weavis's Avatar

Cruisers Forum Supporter

Join Date: Feb 2014
Location: SEVILLE - MALLORCA
Posts: 10,135
Send a message via Skype™ to weavis
Re: Let's Compare Experiences with VOIP Providers & Technologies

Quote:
Originally Posted by leftbrainstuff View Post
We had dedicated skype numbers but that service was so flaky we ditched it. Logged numerous support calls but never had a response. There was no way it seems to actually contact support.

Finding all the consumer internet based calling / voip options to be a pain. Probably for twonreasons. 1 the internet is packet based and never designed for low latency voice / visual type services without specialised end points and infrastructure. 2 the web, at least here in us, gets saturated at times. (The nefflix problem)

Sent from my SM-N900T using Cruisers Sailing Forum mobile app
Ive had SKYPE numbers for a lot of years. It is rare we get issues.
I call daily, Israel, Australia, USA, Mexico, Spain and Portugal.

We run an international medical consultation service and have been more than satisfied with SKYPE.
__________________
- Never test how deep the water is with both feet -
10% of conflicts are due to different opinions. 90% by the tone of voice.
Raise your words, not your voice. It is rain that grows flowers, not thunder.
weavis is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-02-2015, 14:20   #8
Registered User
 
leftbrainstuff's Avatar

Join Date: May 2011
Location: San Francisco and Australia
Boat: Liberty 458
Posts: 1,978
Re: Let's Compare Experiences with VOIP Providers & Technologies

Quote:
Originally Posted by weavis View Post
Ive had SKYPE numbers for a lot of years. It is rare we get issues.
I call daily, Israel, Australia, USA, Mexico, Spain and Portugal.

We run a medical consultation service and have been more than satisfied with SKYPE.
Quite different experiences. Suspect some isp and wireless services play nice with voip while others dont.

Sent from my SM-N900T using Cruisers Sailing Forum mobile app
__________________
leftbrainstuff is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-02-2015, 14:25   #9
Moderator
 
weavis's Avatar

Cruisers Forum Supporter

Join Date: Feb 2014
Location: SEVILLE - MALLORCA
Posts: 10,135
Send a message via Skype™ to weavis
Re: Let's Compare Experiences with VOIP Providers & Technologies

Quote:
Originally Posted by leftbrainstuff View Post
Quite different experiences. Suspect some isp and wireless services play nice with voip while others dont.

Sent from my SM-N900T using Cruisers Sailing Forum mobile app
I dont know. In the States we used VERIZON and in the UK we use VIRGIN.
Even the THREE network mobile service here is crystal clear.
__________________
- Never test how deep the water is with both feet -
10% of conflicts are due to different opinions. 90% by the tone of voice.
Raise your words, not your voice. It is rain that grows flowers, not thunder.
weavis is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-02-2015, 14:38   #10
Moderator
 
a64pilot's Avatar

Cruisers Forum Supporter

Join Date: Oct 2013
Location: Albany Ga.
Boat: Island Packet 38
Posts: 17,045
Re: Let's Compare Experiences with VOIP Providers & Technologies

We all hate Apple products, but with an Iphone, you can make "facetime" calls at least voice only for free if you have a Wifi connection to another Iphone with a data connection.
__________________
a64pilot is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-02-2015, 15:08   #11
Moderator
 
Dockhead's Avatar

Cruisers Forum Supporter

Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: Cowes (Winter), Baltic (Summer) (the boat!); somewhere in the air (me!)
Boat: Cutter-Rigged Moody 54
Posts: 19,743
Re: Let's Compare Experiences with VOIP Providers & Technologies

Quote:
Originally Posted by leftbrainstuff View Post
Quite different experiences. Suspect some isp and wireless services play nice with voip while others dont.

Sent from my SM-N900T using Cruisers Sailing Forum mobile app
I use a different provider in every country, and never a problem. Almost everything I use is mobile phone data. The speed and latency of these connections has improved so much in the last few years that they are, in my experience, more reliable than hard wired connections.

To such an extent, that even if I'm on wifi somewhere, I will switch to my phone data for VOIP calls.

A minimal 3G (UMTS) connection will support even a high fidelity (uLaw etc.) connection; I have gotten usable G729 and Skype connections even with Edge.
HSPA+ is overkill; LTE is not needed at all.

The development of mobile phone data is what has weaned me from circuit-switched telephony. It's superfluous anymore. All you need is a data connection, and the world is your oyster.
__________________
Dockhead is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-02-2015, 15:50   #12
Registered User
 
Mike OReilly's Avatar

Join Date: Sep 2011
Location: Good question
Boat: Rafiki 37
Posts: 4,033
Re: Let's Compare Experiences with VOIP Providers & Technologies

Quote:
Originally Posted by a64pilot View Post
We all hate Apple products, but with an Iphone, you can make "facetime" calls at least voice only for free if you have a Wifi connection to another Iphone with a data connection.
I tend to use FaceTime with all my fellow Apple-indoctrinees. I find it is more stable than Skype most of the time. But for actual business use, so far MagicJack is working really well for me.
__________________
Why go fast, when you can go slow.
BLOG: www.helplink.com/CLAFC
Mike OReilly is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 12-02-2015, 16:07   #13
Registered User
 
travellerw's Avatar

Join Date: Jan 2014
Location: Martinique
Boat: Fortuna Island Spirit 40
Posts: 1,721
Re: Let's Compare Experiences with VOIP Providers & Technologies

I do a ton of travelling in for my current work..

I have completely abandoned Skype for PC to PC calling and have adopted Vsee. Vsee has much better call quality on poor connections and uses almost no bandwidth when idle (Skype is terrible for idle bandwidth). Vsee has clients for Windows, Mac, Idevice and Android.

For traditional VOIP I use Voip.ms :: Worldwide VoIP Origination and Termination and have been pretty happy. I don't mess with the settings, just use the defaults and it seems to work pretty well. Although I don't use it over low bandwidth..

Like you alluded to earler, I have mostly migrated my life to e-mail, messaging and text. Frankly I would be surprised if I make 2 phone calls a week anymore.
__________________
travellerw is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 13-02-2015, 08:39   #14
Registered User
 
Xlantic's Avatar

Join Date: Jun 2014
Location: Menorca
Boat: Grand Banks 50
Posts: 122
Re: Let's Compare Experiences with VOIP Providers & Technologies

I use a number of different services including Skype, FaceTime, Viber and Vyke.

I very much like a feature of Vyke in specific situations. In addition to regular VoIP (including "Skype-Out" type calls to regular phones) with Vyke one can make calls using their "Local Access" mode. This is not a VoIP call but rather what is called a "two-stage call". The "first stage" of the call is from the calling party's smartphone to a local Vyke number that connects to the Vyke platform. The second "stage" of the call is from the Vyke platform to the called party's regular phone. All these connections are handled by the Vyke app.

The advantage of this over VoIP is that quality is assured and Internet access is not required. As such this is what i use for important business calls or when calling from remote anchorages with poor or non-existing 3G coverage.

What is required for Vyke is to able to make a cheap local call, so obtaining a local prepaid card will be required.

The cost of the "second stage" of the call, which is what Vyke charges, is very low, comparable to Skype-out.

So, Vyke is not a substitute to VoIP but their "Local Access" mode of calling is a great solution where Internet access is problematic.
__________________
Xlantic is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 13-02-2015, 08:41   #15
Registered User
 
skipgundlach's Avatar

Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: Currently on the boat, somewhere on the ocean, living the dream
Boat: Morgan 461 S/Y Flying Pig
Posts: 1,387
Send a message via Skype™ to skipgundlach
Re: Let's Compare Experiences with VOIP Providers & Technologies

I have a Vonage router aboard. 3 portable handsets connected to it via a single base.

First router (now dead, replaced) was 12V so I ran it off ship's power. New one is 5V so I run it off the USB splitter power supply I bought for that device.

Both router and phone bases are controlled by a switch for times when we know we won't use it. Total draw, all devices, under 1A. Vonage sends transcriptions of voice mails to my email, should I miss a call. It's a feature I value highly.

But I'm not likely to miss any calls, as their simul-ring puts the same ring to any of 5 phones I want, which would include my and the admiral's cells, plus whomever's home we might be in when we're visiting kids/grandkids.

Over 10 years with this outfit, and if you take your router (that's what it is which runs your phone) with you, and are anywhere there's an ethernet output of internet bandwidth, you're on your home phone anywhere in the world. I used to carry it with me...

On the boat, if we're getting reasonable bandwidth (it uses 90k, I think I remember), we're just as though we were on a landline. Phone calls by grandchildren home in '09 were from St. Simons, St. Augustine, Lake Worth, and several places in the Bahamas.

I was wakened from my sleep by my vonage phone by someone calling from Cleveland; he'd attended a seminar I'd done on wireless communications for cruisers, but couldn't remember the name of my WiFi supplier (www.islandtimepc.com); he's now one of the featured installations, with his backstay mounted antenna. Mine is another, mast-top, and a third, radar post is the last "featured" installation. None of us have any financial relationship to the vendor, other than paying for our stuff

I was on a sea trial 8 years ago in the middle of the Tampa Bay, and took calls from my father and the admiral's banker, and she called her mother in England, all while under way. I've made calls under way south of Staniel Cay, using the then-open Sampson Cay's router, 8 miles away.

My Vonage number is the same as I've had for almost 40 years, courtesy of LNPortability; I've never looked back.

That said, bandwidth, or continuous throughput, has become increasingly difficult on 'open' sites, for whatever reason, including the marina I'm in (not "open" to the public, but lots of users), so we do a lot of cell phone - which would be the case when we're away from the boat, anyway. Vonage rings them - and the call is actually processed through Vonage.

So, on occasion, when I've had to call England, but not on the boat, I go into my dashboard, add the UK number I want to call to my simul-ring list, and then call my number. It rings the UK number, free. When I've finished, I remove the UK number from my simul-ring list. At bit of a workaround, but sure helps when the UK resident is now in the states and needs to talk to the bank or other vendor there.

Skype-to-Skype, due to its video potential, is in high use between parents/children internationally. Back when I was still ashore, I used the free Vonage to UK+5EU calls frequently, as the admiral's mother lived in UK.

But I think in any case, bandwidth determines how successful you will be in using any VoIP, including GoogleChat, which we've also used, in text, voice and video...

HTH

L8R

Skip
__________________

__________________
Morgan 461 #2 SV Flying Pig, KI4MPC
See our galleries at www.justpickone.org/skip/gallery!
Follow us at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/TheFlyingPigLog
skipgundlach is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Tags
enc

Thread Tools
Display Modes Rate This Thread
Rate This Thread:

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
VOIP Experiences Dockhead Marine Electronics 21 23-12-2014 19:06
United Technologies Wiper Motors CXJ Electrical: Batteries, Generators & Solar 2 29-09-2014 19:45
Let's compare notes ShaktisBoy General Sailing Forum 15 20-10-2013 14:03
Who are BVI & USVI Cell Phone providers? davemorton Marine Electronics 11 15-10-2013 06:34
Differing Composite Build Technologies RobNicolls Monohull Sailboats 3 18-06-2008 10:27



Copyright 2002- Social Knowledge, LLC All Rights Reserved.

All times are GMT -7. The time now is 21:57.


Google+
Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
Social Knowledge Networks
Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.

ShowCase vBulletin Plugins by Drive Thru Online, Inc.