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Introduction

For the last couple of years, I have been writing about - but more importantly using - VoIP phones. VoIP is the common acronym for Voice over Internet Protocol, a type of technology that makes it possible for you to make and receive telephone calls over the Internet rather than through your standard phone company land-line connection.

If you're just hearing about VoIP for the first time, it may be easy for you to dismiss both the technology and its communications value for you. Internet-based calling has been around for more than 10 years, but the initial services were undependable at best, and snap-crackle-pop - with emphasis on the crackle - almost as a matter of course. And to make a call from a PC to another computer, you - as well as the person you were calling - needed a PC microphone as well as the same brand of phone software.

VoIP has changed everything. The quality is unsurpassed, often even unequaled by calls placed through the phone wires. So to help you enter this next phase of telephony evolution, I tried five VoIP service providers that cater to home and SOHO users.

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