When I was teaching in Cuyo Palawan, our foster tatay, ‘Tay Thelmo (+), always had seamen’s wives in his sala. The wives troop to his house and pay him so they can talk …. talk to their husbands at sea.
You see, ‘Tay Thelmo was a retired radio operator. He had radio equipment that he used for contacting seamen husbands from the isolated island of Bisucay in Cuyo, Palawan. He even had a service called “phone patch” which allowed callers like me to talk to their loved ones in Manila via telephone (radio in Cuyo, telephone in Manila).
But when a cellsite was put up in Cuyo circa 2000, the radio calling business of Tay Thelmo rolled to a halt.
Now there’s another technology that’s changing the way Pinoys communicate with Pinoy seafarers! Voice Over Internet Protocol or VOIP via the Internet on-board ships around the world.
Yes, many ships have access to the Internet while in the middle of the ocean. The INMARSAT, for example caters to the voice and data communications needs of the maritime industry.
In the news article below, Leo Santiago describes how some ship owners and seafarers use VOIP through Skype and the Internet to make “local” and IDD calls to virtually any country around the world.
New technology seen to slash OFW talk money
by LEO J. SANTIAGO
OFW Journalism Consortium, Inc.
MANILA — STEPPING out of the kitchen of a Royal Caribbean cruise ship slicing the Atlantic Ocean, Loven Palo whips out his phone card, scratches the silver lining hiding numbers, dials his phone, and calls his wife in Sorsogon, his mother in Iloilo, and his in-laws in Cavite.
Within an hour, his $20-phone card is useless.
But a new technology promises to cut by more than half spending on phone calls by 32-year-old Palo, an assistant cook, and over-200,000 other Filipino seafarers.
Called Voice Over Internet Protocol or VoIP (pronounced “voy-pee”), this new technology promises to make phone calls almost free for unlimited time anytime of the day without passing through an operator.
VoIP allows people to talk using computers connected to the Internet. Prior to this technology, the Internet was only used for electronic mail and gathering data. With phone lines getting thinner and technology making data smaller â€”or â€œdigitizedâ€â€” some people behind VoIP saw that if people can send data (sound, picture, film) through the Internet, why not voice?
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