There’s no single provider that can match Skype’s service feature for feature. Still, it’s possible to find companies that excel at offering great VoIP or video calling as individual services. For both benefits plus tons of extras stick with Skype, but if you’re ready to bail because you’re worried about the implications of Microsoft buying Skype you can check out the alternatives listed below.
Google Voice is yet another service offered by the number one search engine. Some of the main highlights of Google Voice include free PC-to-PC video and voice calls, free calls from PC to phones in the US, and cheap international calls. If you’re in the US, you can get a number that can be used to ring any phone of your choice. The service also includes standard features like voicemail, call screening, transcript of voicemail messages, SMS and conference calls.
This service provides VoIP and IM through open protocols. With it, you’ll get free PC-to-PC calls, low cost PC to phone calls, caller ID, fax, web conferencing, call forwarding, and voicemail. One advantage that Vbuzzer has over Skype is the lower rate charged for calls.
VoxOx has a unique selling position (USP) in that they provide an all-inclusive solution for desktop and mobile devices. Features include phone IM, SMS, video chat, phone calls and fax. Taking a page out of Google’s book, the service also offers one number to use anywhere. The rates for outgoing calls are not bad either. There’s an app that you can download to use on your iOS device.
Viber provides a way for iPhone users to make free VoIP calls to other iPhone users using Wi-Fi or 3G connections. It’s a free app that runs in the background, and there’s no charge to make calls. Viber promises to develop a similar app for BlackBerry and Android.
Here is a service that’s a step or two ahead of Skype, and is especially useful for business customers. Now you can get the benefits of an expensive PBX system, in one virtual phone system, and without the associated costs. Some features include individual greetings, voicemail, email or text notifications, extensions for multiple users, and toll-free numbers. Grasshopper is truly a great solution for businesses. Their rates are higher than Skype’s which is more consumer-focused.
8×8 is another VoIP virtual business phone system targeted to businesses. The business edition, Virtual Office Pro, provides multiple extensions. But if you’re a running a solo operation, you might want to check out Solo which has been developed with individuals in mind. Some features include voicemail, call waiting, caller ID, three-way calling, on hold music, and the option to record your calls for storage.
The services above excel in some way or another with VoIP but for a video chat solution you might want to check out Tinychat, ooVoo, or FaceTime.
The author of this article, Steve Brown made the switch to voice over IP years ago. Skype is just one of the services that he uses regularly. To find out about some other great solutions that he’s found and rated, see what he has to say on uSwitch.com.