Get on-line and on the phone at the same time

You’re on the computer when you realize you haven’t talked to your long-distance buddy in a long while. Instead of rushing to the phone, you could use your PC, since it’s right in front of you.

That’s what Becky Brown does. She finds a service offered jointly by and Net2phone is very convenient, even though the technology has yet to be perfected.

Worldskip Inc., headquartered in Oakland, Calif., is an on-line source of news, information, products and services from every country on the globe. It has partnered with Net2phone to allow users to make PC-to-telephone or PC-to-PC calls from Worldskip’s Web site.

According to Brown, a teacher in San Jose, Calif., the service is pretty easy to use and it’s right on her desk.

“I use the PC to PC service. I tried the Internet calling to a friend in Scotland, but I think as far as quality goes – like sound quality – it’s still very primitive,” Brown said. “There still need to be developments.”

According to Nicholas Brathwaite, Worldskip’s co-founder and CEO, the partnership is timely.

“Being able to offer this service and in particular being able to offer it through a premier on-line telephone provider, such as Net2phone, was a strategic initiative and a very high priority for Worldskip,” Brathwaite said. “We have developed a simple and intuitive, multi-lingual, navigational tool targeting international businesspersons, global travellers, immigrants and students.”

According to Jordan Gersch, manager of business development for Net2phone in San Francisco, Net2phone offers low rates compared to telecom companies.

“We have a software client that allows you to make calls directly from your PC to any phone. That is leveraging our network. We have dark fibre in the ground; it’s our own privately-managed network,” Gersch said. “We’re able to make phone-to-phone calls, PC-to-phone, phone-to-PC and PC-to-PC.”

Gersch said that the Net2phone software digitizes voices, turning regular analogue waves into digital code.

“So it’s sending your voice in packets with data,” Gersch said. “By doing this, we send it over to our network, we bypass all the long distance lines like AT&T and MCI and all of those, so the cost is a lot cheaper. It’s only going over the publicly-switched network for a short period of time.”

This allows Net2phone to offer very competitive rates, compared with the bigger telecom and local companies, Gersch claimed.

Net2phone chose Worldskip because of its demographics, he added. “It’s a perfect demographic for us because we feel it really reaches the expatriates in the business and personal travellers (groups) that are international.”

Brathwaite said the main objective of this partnership is to allow people to make phone calls to any country in the world from their PC, while they are on the Internet doing research related to that country.

“We transfer you through cyberspace into that country. We wanted to give you that ability to get into that country and make telephone calls, at a low rate,” Brathwaite said.

But he admits there are a number of areas Worldskip is working on to improve the service.

“At this point in time, the usage is not as high as we would’ve liked it to be.”