Skype is a Voice over Internet Protocol program that allows multiple users with the same program to use voice and webcam services with each other over an Internet connection. However, to put it bluntly, Skype can be a bandwidth hog. Apart from its normal settings for voice and video, it also runs idly in the background, taking up a large amount of bandwidth even if you aren't actually using it. Luckily there are a number of other alternatives to Skype that don't use so much bandwidth.
Google Talk is a simple VoIP, video and text chat service provided by Google that comes as a standalone application but can also be used from your Gmail inbox. It isn't quite as bulky as Skype, but has fewer options. It is a widely-used alternative, due largely in part to its integration to other Google services, and also has a reliable network.
Google Plus Hangouts
Google Plus is a social network with a unique feature called "Hangouts," which lets you have video and voice chats with up to nine other people in your circles via your Web browser or from your mobile Android or iOS device via the Google Plus app. Hangouts are free, but they do require that everyone involved have a Google Plus account.
Yahoo Messenger is used mostly for text chat, but it has built-in voice capabilities. If both parties have the program, you can start a voice conversation inside the messenger without having to download any additional software.
Blink is a program for both Windows and Mac OS X that comes in a free and paid "pro" version. The free version has enough basic features to allow you to use voice services and is a relatively small program.
Mumble, TeamSpeak & Ventrilo
Mumble, TeamSpeak and Ventrilo are VoIP clients that operate with the use of private servers; users create a new connection and then type in information to a specific server that you can then use to talk to a large number of people in conference-style format. The programs themselves are free, but a server is often necessary to use voice services. If you or a friend don't already have one, you can purchase server use for a few dollars per month.
All programs are different, but the one constant is the bandwidth required to use voice and video services. There is little you can do to affect how much bandwidth is taken up by these services, so while you may be able to get better quality with certain applications, you will potentially always have issues trying to use VoIP programs if you are using a slow or low-bandwidth connection.
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