A softphone is a software programme that is used to make telephone calls over the Internet using a computer instead of using a regular phone. Your service provider may offer computer-to-computer calls for free, but PC-to-phone and phone-to-PC calls usually are charged. You need to have the same communication protocol and use a common audio codec to communicate with another person. The audio codec defines how voice is translated into digital signals. Examples of SIP softphones are Ekiga, WengoPhone, SIP Express Router and many more.
You use a softphone with a headset connected to the computer or with a USB phone. The features of softphone include all standard telephony features, such as mute, flash, hold and transfer. It also includes new features, such as presence, video, wideband audio and many more. The softphone requirements to make voice calls over the Internet are a computer with a microphone and speaker, a headset or USB phone, Internet connectivity and an account with an Internet telephony service provider.
Nice to Know:
Skype, Google Talk and Vonage are Internet telephony service providers whose software you would need to install on your computer. But these three providers are not interoperable, and you cannot place a direct call between them.
The configuration of Ekiga and the features of WengoPhone are described now.
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