The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Dial cheaper with webfone

New Delhi, May 14: Overseas calls have just got cheaper.

Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd, the country’s largest telephone service provider, is offering calls to the US and the UK at Rs 4.50 per minute. But there’s a catch: it's over the Internet.

There are a number of small Internet service providers who provide the same service but of indifferent quality.

BSNL is launching its Webfone Internet telephony service in the West Bengal Telecom circle.

And it’s far cheaper than overseas calls made from the landline phone at Rs 24 per minute or over the mobile phone at Rs 17 per minute.

Conventionally, phone calls are made over a dedicated voice network. The calls are costly as they are “circuit switched”, which means that when a call is placed a dedicated circuit is opened to transmit voice. But a Webfone call is carried over the Internet.

Webfone enables the integration of voice and data over the existing Internet network, transmitting voice and utilising Internet protocol.

Says a senior official in BSNL: “The only disadvantage in Webfone may be the quality of the voice being sent or received. But then you can talk globally at less than Rs 5.”

To make an Internet telephony call using a dialer, the personal computer should have Windows /2000/XP operating system, Pentium 166 MHz processor, Microsoft Internet Explorer 4.01 to 6.0 or Netscape Communicator 4.5 to 4.7 or 6.1 and a minimum 32 MB of RAM.

It should also have 15 megabytes of free hard disk space, full-duplex sound card SVGA display card with 256 colours, microphone and speakers, or headset 28.8 kbps modem.

Get onto the Internet, choose either the downloadable dialer or the browser-based one. Technical experts say the download option is better when the same PC is to be used again and again to make calls.

But before this, buy a pre-paid web-phone cards which can be used to make call from PC (in India) to phone (abroad). This web-phone card is important since only this card allows you to make the telephone calls globally at a very cheap rate, by accessing Internet using a local dial-up number. There is no need to have an ISD facility on the telephone to use Internet telephony.

Adjust the speaker and microphone volume with the slider buttons on the dialer keypad. Hang up by clicking the keypad's “End” button. To redial, click on the “Send” button to recall the last phone number dialed. The number will be inserted in the phone number display box. Click on “Send” again to place the call.

Another advantage of Webfone is that calls can be made from any computer. However, extreme caution must be exercised if prepaid calls are made from a shared computer.

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