If you haven’t done it yet, you should go download skype. It’s an internet based phone that actually works. A few years ago there was a lot of hype about internet phones, but t didn’t pan out because the phones just didn’t work. They were difficult to get to work, and there was always (at least every time I tried it) about a 2 second delay on the line. Try having a conversation when the other person doesn’t hear what you say for 2 seconds. It’s nearly impossible.

Then over the past year or so there’s been a lot of hype over VOIP (voice over IP), another form of internet phones. We implemented a complete open source solution at QComm where I worked for about 8 months. It was really cool…but definitely took a lot of expertise to get it up and running.

In comes Skype. It’s a peer to peer internet based phone system. It’s super easy to set up and get working (I’ve had about 5 people I know set it up with zero problems), and it just WORKS!!!

The interface for it is just like an instant messenger client where you just double click on your buddies and it calls their computer. However, instead of popping up an instant message, it rings their computers speakers. They answer, you talk. It’s FREE.

It has ton’s of features including free conference calling, support for mac, linux, and pocket pc. You can also use it to call a normal land line for about $0.02/minute. There’s also an answering machine and inbound calls in the works. Imagine that, being able to use your home phone to dial someone’s computer. For me, who sits in front of the computer all day, sounds like a dream.

The real reason I’m writing about this is because yesterday I did a conference call with skype. I conferenced with my brother in Washington DC and his fiancee in CHINA! The quality was amazing, it was just like a normal phone conversation.

Skype is going to change telephony. I’d hate to be one of the players in the voip industry right now. It’s tough to compete with free.