BT Launch Communicator Residential VoIP Service

BT have launched new VoIP service called Communicator – bundled with Yahoo Messenger they claim that it makes calling from your PC easier. It certainly won’t make it cheaper as BT will bill you at exactly the same rate they bill for calls from your home phone, despite giving a clear warning on their site that PC calls aren’t as good. So, I have to ask – what’s the point?

BT are selling the service on convenience – the subscriber’s PC becomes an all-in-one communications centre with instant messaging, email, voice calls, and call management integrated into one product. Additional features include internet call barring and waiting – allowing you to block calls to your PC, and to notify you’ve got someone else waiting to speak to you when you’ve got a call. Never ones to miss a trick, these two extras cost UK£1.75 (€2.62) a month each, if you don’t already have them on your usual line.

BT also use the quality issue as an opportunity to recommend upgrading to a broadband connection: “The quality of calls made with BT Communicator may not be as good as the quality of traditional phone calls. BT Communicator call quality may be better on a broadband connection.”

People registering now get a free month of calls – after that, the service is charged like a normal phone service, with calls showing up on your normal bill as “Clic2call” items.

BT Communicator

Skype – free internet calls

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Fraser Lovatt

Fraser Lovatt has spent the last fifteen years working in publishing, TV and the Internet in various capacities, and believes that they will be seperate platforms for at least a while yet. His main interests at the moment are exploring where Linux is taking home entertainment and how technology is conferring technical skills on more and more people. Fraser Lovatt was born in the same year that 2001: A Space Odyssey was delighting and confusing people in the cinemas, and developed a lifelong love of technology as soon as he realised that things could be taken apart, sometimes put back together again, but mostly left in bits or made into something the original designer hadn't quite planned upon. At school he was definitely in the ZX Spectrum/Magpie/BMX camp, rather than the BBC Micro/Blue Peter/well-behaved group. This is all deeply ironic as he later went on to spend nine years working at the BBC. After a few years of working as a bookseller in Scotland, ("Back when it was actually a skilled profession" he'll tell anyone still listening), he moved to England for reasons he can't quite explain adequately to himself. After a couple of publishing jobs punctuated by sporadic bursts of travelling and photography came the aforementioned nine years at the BBC where he specialised in internet technologies and video. These days his primary interests are Java, Linux, videogames and pies - and if they're not candidates for convergence, then what is?