There are a number of ways to make telephone calls using the Internet instead of the traditional telephone company network (PSTN). You can download soft-phone software such as Skype to your PC and use your computer's microphone and speakers (or a headset) to make calls through its service.
For home or small business use, you can sign up with a VoIP provider (such as Vonage, Lingo, or Packet8) and then connect its analog telephone adapter (ATA) box to your Internet provider's router or modem and to your regular phone. For a larger business, you can deploy a VoIP server and PSTN gateway on your network and then route multiple VoIP lines to your phones through an IP PBX system.
Now there's yet another way to make VoIP calls and take advantage of the lower cost of long distance over IP. It doesn't require you to download and install any software to your computer—and you don't have to buy or rent any special equipment either.
You don't have to sign a contract, and you can make calls from your existing home or office phones. You can even make VoIP calls from your mobile phone—without having to buy a new mobile phone with VoIP support.
All you need is an Internet connection with a Web browser, a phone number, and JAJAH.
JAJAH is a Web-based VoIP service that you can use to make free local, domestic, and international calls. Here's how it works: Go to the JAJAH Web site. You can try it out without registering—just enter your own phone number and the number you want to call in the appropriate forms fields, and click the green Call button. You can use a landline or a mobile phone. You can also call from an extension within an office PBX system.
Your phone will ring; when you answer, it will ask you to hold while JAJAH connects the call. Then it will ring through to the number you're calling. The trial call is limited to four minutes. Creating an account is easy. You can enter up to three phone numbers that you'll use to make calls.
And once you've placed a call, you don't have to stay at your computer. If you're using a cordless or mobile phone, you can change locations while talking.
What does it cost?
After you've registered, calls are free between registered JAJAH users within the United States, Canada, China, Singapore, Hong Kong, and Thailand. Calls to Group B countries are free between JAJAH landline users only. Group B countries include Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Chile, Colombia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Guam, Hawaii, Hungary, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Monaco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Panama, Poland, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Russia, San Marino, South Korea, Spain, Switzerland, Taiwan, Turkey, United Kingdom, Venezuela, and Zambia.
Check out JAJAH's Web site to determine the rates to particular countries. Here are some examples:
- Calls within the United States to non-JAJAH users cost 2.8 cents per minute.
- Calls from the United States to Afghanistan (one of the most expensive areas) cost 25.5 cents per minute to landlines and 27 cents to mobile phones.
- Calls from the United States to the United Kingdom cost 3 cents per minute to landlines and 18.1 cents to mobile phones. (European Union users also have to pay a 15 percent VAT tax.)
You can pay by credit card, bank transfer, or various payment services such as paysafecard and MoneyBookers.
JAJAH offers more than standard one-to-one VoIP calling. You can schedule calls ahead of time and configure JAJAH to send you a test message reminder when it's time for the call to go through. You can schedule calls minutes, hours, or even days ahead of time. There's no extra cost for scheduling calls—although there may be an extra charge for the text message.
You can also make conference calls, adding up to 10 participants. The Web site will display the cost of the call (per minute) on the screen when you've added all participants, so you'll know much it's going to cost ahead of time. Here's a demo of how to set up a JAJAH conference call.
JAJAH for business
Business accounts are also available. With a business account, you can manage and monitor multiple users. You can set limits on the dollar amount of calls each individual user can make, and you can get a monthly invoice that covers all users.
With a business account, you can even get a toll-free number and place a Call Me button on your Web site. Your customers can just click to place a free call to your company.
In the application for a business account, specify the amount of monthly credit you require (i.e., the maximum amount to spend on JAJAH services before you have to pay the balance). There's no limit on the number of employees who can use your JAJAH business account. In addition, there's no monthly fee for the account itself; it bills you based on the calls made.
JAJAH for mobile users
If you have a mobile phone with Web access, it has a Web site for mobile users, which you can use just as you do the regular Web site. It works with Pocket PC/Windows Mobile phones, Blackberry devices, Treo smart phones, devices using the Symbian operating system, and others.
You can make JAJAH calls from a mobile phone that doesn't have a Web browser by downloading a Java plug-in. The plug-in is available only for certain models of Motorola, Samsung, Nokia, Sony Ericsson, and Siemens mobile phones. Some Symbian phones have this functionality built-in.
There are several tools that you can download and install on your computer to make using JAJAH easier. Here are a couple examples:
- You can download a plug-in for Microsoft Outlook XP, Outlook 2003, or Outlook 2007 that will allow you to make a JAJAH call by clicking a button for an Outlook contact.
- There's a Firefox extension that creates JAJAH links to the phone numbers on a Web site. It also adds a JAJAH toolbar to the browser, where you can type a phone number directly to make a call.
- If you use the Macintosh OS X operating system, you can get a plug-in that lets you make JAJAH calls directly from your Mac address book.
JAJAH lets you use VoIP in a whole new way. Unlike with other VoIP providers, you don't have to install extra software or hardware to use it—and you can use it anywhere you have access to a Web browser and the phone number(s) that you've registered with JAJAH.
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Deb Shinder is a technology consultant, trainer, and writer who has authored a number of books on computer operating systems, networking, and security. She currently specializes in security issues and Microsoft products, and she has received Microsoft's Most Valuable Professional (MVP) status in Windows Server Security.
Debra Littlejohn Shinder, MCSE, MVP is a technology consultant, trainer, and writer who has authored a number of books on computer operating systems, networking, and security. Deb is a tech editor, developmental editor, and contributor to over 20 additional books on subjects such as the Windows 2000 and Windows 2003 MCSE exams, CompTIA Security+ exam, and TruSecure's ICSA certification.