WAMBUGU: Viber versus Skype; VoIP battle intensifies [Nation (Kenya)]
(Nation (Kenya) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Traditionally, long-distance relationships and businesses have faced many challenges, but in the age of the internet, Skype and mobile phones they have more chances than ever of being successful.
Some of the options, especially for communication, are cheaper or in some cases free and come with both video and audio features.
Take for instance Voice Over Internet or VoIP communication. VoIP, is simply a phone communication service over the Internet. If you have a reasonable quality Internet connection, you can get phone service delivered through your Internet connection instead of from your service provider.
VoIP service may be available at no additional cost if internet is already available. For example, if you have data bundles on your phone or have internet available in your house or office, you can use that to make calls instead of purchasing airtime to make calls through your phone.
When it comes to VoIP, two common apps come to mind. Viber and Skype. Viber is an instant messaging VoIP application developed by Viber Media for most smartphones and tablets, but now Viber for personal computers is available too. In addition to text messaging, users can exchange images, video and voice messages.
Aimed at competing with Skype, Viber has recently introduced the "Viber Out" feature. This new feature allows you to call almost any phone number, mobile or land line, in the world.
Viber previously only allowed you to call or message other Viber users for free. With the help of "Viber Out", you can now call any phone — as long as you are willing to pay for it, just as in Skype.
But what's the main difference between Viber and Skype? Both apps are very user friendly and straightforward to install but have subtle differences. Skype requires you to use a username and a password.
The username will be the identification element for you on the whole network.
Viber does not require you to have a user name, as it uses your cell phone number as identifier. This becomes quite handy with your mobile phone, and especially with your contacts.
Skype started on the computer and took some time to migrate to mobile phones, while Viber, which is relatively newer, started exclusively on mobile phones, and only recently launched a desktop app.
The features that a VoIP app offers add to the taste and quality, and are often important factors helping users to choose their app and service.
Viber has a limited list of features, while Skype has been accumulating features for over a decade. For example, with Skype, you can have multiple participants per call, call recording features, advanced settings and configurations. Skype even has hardware especially designed for it like headsets, microphones and web cameras.
Viber takes around 250KB per minute of call, while Skype takes several times more than that. But Skype offers higher quality calls than Viber.
However, in the mixture of factors that affect the quality of VoIP calls, even high quality calls can be affected. So, in terms of data consumption, Skype is a hog and hence Viber is cheaper for making VoIP calls.
Overall, Skype is the better app and service if you want quality and features. On the other hand, when you are using Viber, it is easier to get identified by the phone number as it integrates the phone better, and more importantly because Viber takes a smaller data plan, hence is more economical.
Finally, if you are using VoIP on your desktop, definitely go for Skype. In this regard, Viber does not even compare.
But if memory is not a problem on your device, install both Viber and Skype and decide when to use which for optimal use and maximum savings.
Sam Wambugu is a monitoring and evaluation specialist. Samwambugu@gmail.com
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