Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Barriers: Tele-communicating, Part 2

Continued from Part 1

Weighing all the pros and cons, the decision to go phone-less was the right one for me. However, there were Canada-only barriers to deal with, which imposed unfair restrictions on the use of VOIP technology. That's where Skype comes in.

Skype offers three levels of service.

With the first, Skype allows free voice communication between Skype-enabled computers; you download and install the free software, then use your computer together with connected headphones to make and receive calls with other people whose computers also have Skype.

SkypeOUT, which I have, goes one step further. It enables you to make calls to telephones anywhere in the world free of long-distance charges. The service for calls to the US or Canada costs only $30 per year; that's the subscription I have. To anywhere in the world, it's $12.95 per month.

SkypeIN, the premier Skype service, is used in over 25 countries, including the USA, UK and Australia. But not in Canada.

With SkypeIN, a person without a phone can still get a phone (aka, online) number, which is an important equalizer for the very poor. It makes it possible for people to use their phones to call you and for you to leave a phone number where required (see Part 3). In other words, with today's technology, it doesn't matter that you answer or make a call using your computer or phone or mobile device. The device for connection isn't, or needn't be, an issue ... except in Canada.

The Canadian telecom giants won't give people phone numbers (which would be associated with computers' ISP numbers I suppose) unless they've a landline or cell phone to which those same telecom giants will provide service. The CRTC, the regulator for radio, television and telecommunications in Canada, permits this monopoly to persist.

Part 3

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