Whether or not you are a fan, the social network site Facebook has become far more than a platform for posting photos of your pets or fancy coffees on the web. Facebook now gives people a sophisticated real-time way in which to stay in touch with their friends while they are going about their day.

The history of Facebook and its many platforms for enabling friends to connect with each other is quite convoluted, but these days users essentially access the Facebook Messenger service via their smartphone to make calls or chat with each other. Facebook Messenger is an IM (instant messaging) app designed largely for smartphones that facilitates voice calls, text messages, group chatting and even sharing photos and videos. Messenger is also adaptable and widely used, being compatible with Android phones, iPhones, iPads, the BlackBerry and Windows Phones. For many people, using Facebook to call their friends is a convenient and cost-effective way of staying in touch.

Free and easy

One of the big reasons for Facebook Messenger’s popularity is that using it to make calls or send messages is free, or almost free, provided that you have an internet connection. Making a call or sending a text on Facebook Messenger will not eat into your monthly allowance of calls and texts from your network provider. It will use some of your internet data allowance, although this won’t be an issue if connected to wifi. While there can be data charges, typically Facebook calls do not take up a great deal of bandwidth and so the charges are generally low. This serves to make Messenger a popular choice for users wishing to contact each other while travelling.

Additional Messenger features include Facebook Live, which allows users to broadcast their activities while they are on the move. Calling friends is simple using Messenger, as all users need to do is find the name of the person that they want to call, tap on the I button, and then select the option that offers a free call.

The power of VoIP

Facebook Messenger has used VoIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) since April 2014, which essentially allows users to communicate for free. The competition in mobile messaging is pretty ruthless, so a system has to be good to survive, let alone flourish. The Facebook app has a range of special features that are popular with users and the service is clear and effective. Realising that many Facebook users like using the app to contact friends, the company has placed calling as a central feature on Messenger. Skype provides a VoIP video calling on its platform, and it formed a partnership with Facebook to deliver video calling on Facebook as well.

An update to the Facebook Windows 10 app for desktop computers in 2016 has also allowed users to make voice or video calls without even having to go to Facebook, as a notification would appear on the desktop. This facility, however, was available for those using Windows 10. Otherwise, calls were made from the Messenger app on smartphones. .

The flexible choice

VoIP has many advantages for business, starting with the great value it delivers, making it extremely easy to call anywhere in the world at low rates. Plus it allows communication options such as video conferencing and makes international connections as easy as the local variety. Little investment in infrastructure is required on the part of the business adopting it. Wiring is not necessary, just an internet connection with sufficient bandwidth to handle all of the business’ activities. A provider such as IDT can supply hosted solutions that can expand with a business, while taking care of any maintenance or hardware issues. In addition, a specialist like IDT has carefully developed a huge global network of carriers and providers to ensure that its VoIP services are efficient, cost-effective and always reliable.

VoIP is also incredibly versatile. With access to a broadband network, users can log into their VoIP system wherever they happen to be, and continue to make international calls at their usual low rates. VoIP converters are also available; when they are plugged into an active computer, the converter will route analogue signals from traditional phone lines over the internet. With VoIP, users can even have their own number for use when travelling on business.

There are some limitations with Messenger. In order to make free VoIP calls via Facebook, both users need to be part of the platform. Using VoIP for business allows greater freedom, as users can take advantage of it to call anyone, whether they are on their mobile, a landline or even on a computer. While communicating with VoIP can take place in any corner of the globe, users can relax knowing that their calls are not costing the earth.