My Own CIO – VoIP

I’m adding another tool – VoIP, in the form of Skype. As it so happens, they released a brand new version in anticipation of my jump into this new world:

Skype 2.7 for Mac is here. – Skype for Mac

I have been looking around and noticed that there isn’t a good guide anywhere for optimizing Skype on the Macintosh, so I thought I would share what I know here based on my testing. Thanks to those of you who I have spoken with in the last few weeks who either knew or didn’t know that you were on a VoIP connection when I said I was calling from my landline :).

Overall quality is great with a fast computer and good internet connection. Here are my tips:

To test your Internet connection, you can use a free service like MySpeed VoIP quality test.

For your router, you can do things like adjust port forwarding and give priority to your Skype connection. I tried all combinations of this and ended up using the built in Quality of Service settings, in other words, no special tweaking.

On the mac, the big issue affecting quality turned out to be concurrent use of Bluetooth. I haven’t seen anything posted about this, but using a bluetooth mouse and keyboard at the same time as Skype causes the machine to hiccup periodically during the connection. Using a bluetooth headset, while possible, resulted in poor quality. Turning bluetooth off altogether during calls preserved excellent quality. I think having 1-3 bluetooth devices running off the machine causes CPU conflicts rather than bandwidth conflicts.

In terms of hardware, there are good choices for the PC, such as the GE – Skype – Certified – 2 in 1 Internet&Standard Phone, and the Linksys Cordless Internet Telephony Kit for Skype CIT200 Unfortunately, neither of these have Macintosh drivers (yes there are some things on the Mac that aren’t plug and play), so they won’t work. In addition, the “line in” port on a MacBookPro is not the same as “Microphone”. The former requires a powered microphone, the latter does not. So you can’t buy a microphone-enabled headset and plug it to these jacks. You need a USB headset.

Just a few things I figured out on this journey. I love the iPhone and all the things it does for me, but when you join the masses of people who no longer have a true land line in their home, Skype is a great way to manage the declining pool of rollover minutes that you have built up.

Anyone else using Skype or VoIP with good results (or not so good results?). Post them here!

5 Replies to “My Own CIO – VoIP”

  1. Hi Ted- been enjoying your posts, thanks.

    I use a phone I bought from Skype that connects directly to wireless router so did not need driver for mac. Works quite well. Also using T-mobile cell phone (@home) that double as VOIP phone that has better sound quality than skype or cell connection. Hopefully AT&T will make that available soon so that iphone can work that way too. In the meantime you may know there is a skype webapp for iphone. Tried it a while ago and it worked fine but did not purchase and trial version expired.

    Barry

  2. PS the USB headset that will come with the new MacSpeech program (has dragon recognition engine so finally voice recognition on Mac=PC) should work well as a USB mic for skype on MacBook Pro.

  3. Thanks Barry, both for reading and for the tips! I looked up info about the iPhone product. Looks interesting. I am wondering what we'll see when the SDK comes out. I can now see the promise of VOIP on that device.

  4. Thanks so much Ted for posting this! I was having a problem with my VoIP and after I read this, I realized that it was the attached bluetooth devices causing the issue! Again, thanks so much I didn't find this problem posted on the other sites I visited while trying to fix my problem.

  5. Excellent news. I thought that posting this info would be helpful to the blogosphere – thanks for confirming it!

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