Firstoff, VoIP = Voice over IP. It means calling on normal from your computer. You probably know it as Skype, but we’ll be covering a few alternate methods as well. It’s day numbero seis of the HackCollege Days of Christmas; here we go.

The Case for VoIP

You have to talk to your parents. Whether your parents are footing your entire college bill or just paying for the occasional Ramen noodles, most students are dependent upon their parents to some degree.

If you’ve been sleeping for the past two years, you might have not realized that it’s possible to make phone calls over the internet. Why would you want to do a silly thing like that? Well, it’s cheap and long distance fees doesn’t exist. If you want to conserve cell minutes, it might be a good idea to shell out the $20 for a Skype computer-to-phone account for the year.

Or just tell your parents to get Skype on their computers as well and talk free PC-to-PC.

What’s a Skype?

Skype is far and away the most popular VoIP client. It’s owned by eBay. Get it here.

All students should have Skype installed. I’ve never called my parents using Skype, but I have done job interviews over Skype. Get it now. It’s straightforward; if you’ve ever used AIM you’ll be able to figure it out easily. PC-to-PC calls on Skype are always free, but PC-to-phone calls will cost you $20 for the year.

When to not use Skype

Skype will be good for about 80% of people’s VoIP needs. Where does it fail?

  • It’s costs money to call phones

  • Quality can be spotty, depending on the Internet connection

Unfortunately, there’s no real way around problem number two. We’ll try to help you solve problem #1, though. Unless you’re German, the standard way to get free PC-to-phone calls is to nab a competing VoIP client’s promotion. There will almost always be these promotions going on, so you’re in luck.

For example, the one that’s still in business right now is called VoipBuster. It will allow you up to 300 minutes of talk time per week. As always when pursuing the freest, ads, spyware, and whatnot will always be a concern. Our recommendation? Pony up the $20 for a Skype account if you’ve got it. It’ll get you a year’s worth of PC-to-phone goodness and the software is supported across all platforms.

Otherwise if you’re on a mission to be free, google around until you find what a working VoIP client with a company behind it that’s still in business.

And make sure you call your parents when you get back to school. They’d love to hear from you.