AFTER TALKING to an eircom telesales rep who rang me with a bevy of offers, I realised that Ireland's traditional telephone company must know it will be pillaged by Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP) telephony. Perhaps that's why they're willing to let me call my international VoIP gateway for five hours of talktime if I agree to an additional €3 in contract costs. When taken hand-in-hand with my Smart Telecom account, this means I get nearly five hours of talk with my mom in the States for less than €15 a month when I use my landline.
It's about half of that cost when I use my SkypeOut service. These are earth-shrinking facts. At a time when calls to end the "Rip Off Republic" resonate around Ireland, it's good to see that one little press release about Google Talk gets thousands of otherwise "too techie for me" people thinking about how to connect to friends using the internet for voice.
I already use Skype hyperlinks that permit people visiting my blog to talk directly to me. If anything, the announcement of Google Talk last week has increased the amount of Skype voicemail that I get. Skype is responsible for 46% of all VoIP traffic in the US. That percentage will decline but the overall VoIP minutes will strengthen considerably now that Google has thrown its brand behind the technology.
There's money in old-fashioned voice. Janus Friis, Skype co-founder, says that SkypeOut is funding the growth of Skype because 5% of Skype users buy SkypeOut accounts. Skype does not pay anything to attract new users.
I have made SkypeOut calls from my kitchen table, my study, sitting room, hallway and while walking outside because I have a wireless Skype handset that connects with a USB port on my laptop. People using the handset to dial phone numbers think they're on a normal landline. That ease of use and satisfaction with call quality cannot be good news for eircom as more and more players connect telephony services over home broadband accounts.