RealTime IT News

In Japan, Greater Savings With Internet Telephony

While de-regulation of the telecommunications industry in Japan has led to an increase in the number of long distance providers and better rates, there are even greater savings to be had in the form of Internet telephony.

Internet telephony technology has out-distanced even the savings offered by such international phone companies as Japan Telecom, IDC, plus a handful of Japan-based callbacks.

This is according to Ken Cotton, a Tokyo-based computer consultant, president of the Tokyo PC Users Club, and a Web re-seller for San Francisco-based Quicknet Technologies and its product, Internet PhoneJack.

"The Internet phone stuff is hot," said Cotton. "Why pay 25 yen a minute (21 cents) when with the right hardware and software you can pay 11-17 yen a minute." (10-15 cents).

Telephony hardware can be used PC to PC, PC to phone, or phone to phone, with the high-end varying from Nortel Networks' enterprise-class system to the user-friendly Internet PhoneJack ISA card, retailing at $159.95.

"The big guys are pushing their product for thousands of dollars and you need an engineer to install it. For this only a PC," added Cotton.

A PC is needed in addition to Internet telephony software (like PhoneJACK, Net2Phone, Internet Phone, or NetMeeting) and, of course, a phone.

Internet telephony is not only growing in convenience but also improving in sound quality.

"I first tried an Internet phone call with a friend in Taiwan over three years ago and there was something like a 30-second delay," said Cotton. "Things have come a long way since then. I often have calls so clear and with so little delay that I have to look down at the phone to convince myself that I'm using the Internet."

Quality that also may have benefited from his use of NTT's OCN (open computer network) and its everyday, 24-hour, 128-kbit access to the Internet for 38,000 yen ($327) per month.

It's not for everyone, he acknowledges, as it does involve a 32-page application process prior to installation.

"They plan on selling the 3.0 version of their software for around 30 bucks. If it works as good as it did when I tested it, then it's simply going to be amazing," he said.

Quicknet Technologies also offers Internet LineJACK, a multi-line gateway for homes or small businesses.