Saving money is the name of the game right now, and one of the easiest ways to cut your monthly expenses is to slash your phone bill. Today’s technologies can help you eliminate unnecessary phone costs and even allow you to make and receive phone calls for free. And the best part is they’re easy to use and integrate into your home or office. Save up to hundreds of dollars a year by utilizing one or more of the following technologies.
A private branch exchange utilizes an in-house switching station instead of that of a telephone company for connecting multiple telephone lines within an office to an external line. This means that each phone within the office does not need its own telephone number, only an extension, because the PBX system handles phone calls made from desk to desk within the office. A PBX saves money because it allows a company to lease only the amount of telephone lines it needs to make outside phone calls. A small business, for example, can opt to lease one line and have everyone in the office share it. The downside to this is that only a certain number of employees can dial out of the office at any given time, depending on the number of telephone lines the company leases. Most modern PBX systems support Voice over Internet Protocol, which adds even more significant cost savings.
Voice over Internet Protocol allows you to place calls over the Internet using three methods: PC to PC, PC to phone, and phone to phone. When communicating from computer to computer, VoIP is virtually free; and using VoIP on a mobile phone comes at a relatively cheap cost. VoIP can offer significant savings to a company because it doesn’t require a monthly phone bill in addition to your regular Internet bill; it eliminates the per-minute fees accrued from long-distance calls; and it provides enormous savings on international calls. Because of this, most wireless carriers currently make it difficult to download VoIP applications to mobile devices. AT&T, for example, was recently admonished by Skype, one of the most popular VoIP services, for restricting use of Skype on its 3G network and the popular iPhone. Skype is currently partnering with Nokia, however, to build Skype into some of its smartphones and plans to form similar partnerships with AT&T and other wireless carriers. Skype for mobile phones is currently available by download on any Windows mobile phone.
Bluetooth cellular gateways such as XLink and Cell2Tel allow you to connect your cell phone to your home or office phone and treat them as one. All you have to do is plug your regular telephone cord into the gateway box and your home or office phones will ring whenever your Bluetooth-enabled cell phone rings. Cellular gateways can help you save up to $33 a month because you’re not tapping into your monthly cell phone minutes. XLink also provides options that allow you to cancel your landline and receive incoming Skype calls from your computer to your cell phone or home phone.
The Old Standbys
Finally, don’t forget older technologies such as Web conferencing and instant messaging, which still help you save money on your phone bill. Services such as WebEx and GoToMeeting let you hold meetings over the Web without having to pay costly long-distance fees. WebEx even offers an application that lets you enter Web conferences through your cell phone so you’re not tied to your computer. And instant messaging is still a great way to quickly communicate with your employees and even your customers without having to pick up the phone. Lastly, webcams make it even easier to communicate by adding videoconferencing capabilities.