Will Belizeans be able to continue making cheap calls using voice over internet protocol technology? That is the question the Public Utilities Commission says it will answer in the near future. And while the PUC debates the "opportunities" and "threats" of VOIP, tonight we'll show you how it works and why some users are paying much less on their phone bills using the service. Keith Swift has the story.
Keith Swift Reporting,
Alright well even though I am in Belize you know my Miami number, 305-335-11XX. Alright, later…I was able to make that international call using this little box. It may not lot like much but this is what is called a voice over internet adapter. Small boxes like these are what have been fuelling the debate over the voice over internet protocol because these boxes allow users to make cheap calls over the internet with their home phone.
So how does it work? Well technology consultant Niall Gillett says that along with being cheap, making calls using the VOIP technology is fairly easy.
Niall Gillett, Technology Consultant
"They'll send you a little box, something that looks something like this, and you will plug this into your broadband connection, which is offered through your cable company in Belize City, your satellite provider, or DSL through BTL. Once you plug that in, you pick up your normal home phone and you use it just like you use it for any other thing, except though that you will now have a United States phone number or a European phone number or a Canadian phone number and you can talk to anyone in any of these other countries practically for you. You basically have unlimited calls. In a nutshell, once you have one of these services, any phone call you make is a local call so you can talk unlimited for a small price."
In the world of VoIP, Vonage is the most popular and talked about. Gillett says there are others. He concedes the quality of the call does vary and it may be unreliable at times but he calls those small opportunity costs.
"Price, price, and convenience. The prices to use these, like I said if you have one of the phone numbers and you are dealing with business in the States or around the world, most of your calls that you make will be local calls and they will be free. You pay one set fee which is about US$30 and you can't beat that."
And if you are really serious about cheap calls, you don't even need a computer to sign up to use VoIP.
"You don't actually need a computer to do this. All you need to do is call one of these services or visit them online, sign up with them, and they'll send you this equipment. Or if you don't want to use their equipment, you could go to one of the thousands of places in the world and buy this equipment practically at very cheap prices."
Cheap calls, cheap equipment, and easy setup but is it legal?
"It is not illegal to use these services. I think right now that is what everyone is looking at is are these services legal. We would say that they are not illegal."
And if and until it is illegal, VoIP calls will be the phone service of choice for those high tech, low cost consumers.
Users of Vonage and other similar services told us that they were able to use the service problem free today. We should note that Vonage and other similar companies are not licensed to offer phone services in Belize.