While I remain a fan of Skype, especially for coordinating calls in widely divergent timezones, after a four way session on Skype today I have to admit it has limitations as a conferencing tool, and even sometimes for one-to-one calls.

We did a call today on the book I’m co-authoring on Linkedin for Recruiting, between Southern California, Texas and the east coast of Australia, with four participants in all – two in the US and two in Australia. After a couple of false starts with the sign-in we were able to cover the ground we needed to cover and get agreements where needed, usual meeting stuff, but none of us found it an easy experience.

There was a lot of echo and when you are getting echo from three out of four participants in a call, it’s like being in an echo chamber and rather challenging for concentration.

I’d previously had a problem with doing a one-on-one Skype call with one of the participants, co-author Bill Vick in Dallas, Texas, where the call was breaking up so much I couldn’t hear him and we had to switch to that old-fashioned device, the fixed line telephone. But generally Skype works well for me on one-on-one calls – even if there is some echo you can stand it when there are only two people on the call.

This is not about intercontinental connections per se: I’ve had perfectly good Skype sessions with people in China, the US and  Australia, and I’ve had bad connections with people in Australia as well as occasionally with the US.

Like a lot of people in small and large businesses, I’m very keen to understand what’s practical, as distinct from what’s feasible (and therefore marketable!) with VoIP/internet telephony, given the significant cost-reductions it makes possible. By the same token, I don’t want to be in the middle of a coaching session or other important call and have it break up into unintelligible bits of sound.

So we’re not about to cancel our telephone service just yet in favour of Skype or any other VoIP offering. But we have switched our internet service account to one that provides VoIP, so that should be interesting. 

Once I’ve met my main deadline for the book, only a few days away now, I’ll make time to look at what else is on offer in the VoIP space.

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