V – Voice
O – Over
I – Internet
P – Protocol
VOIP is about using your Internet connection as a telephone. This is great because you can communicate, person to person or with multiple parties on a conference call, with people all over the world without having to worry about long distance charges. The charges are included in your monthly VOIP service provider fee which will vary depending upon the service provider and features offered.
VOIP service providers typically charge much less than local phone companies. However, some VOIP service providers do not offer 911 or 411 services, while others do. As always – it is best to shop around to find the service that works best for you…using the Internet! Remember, you can always use VOIP along with your existing telephone service as a way of keeping long distance and conferencing costs down.
VOIP works by translating phone signals into digital signals that can be sent over the internet. This function can be included in special VOIP telephones, or by using a separate box called an ATA.
VOIP using an ATA
A – Analogue
T – Terminal
A – Adapters
An ATA connects your telephone to a VOIP network by using an Ethernet jack or an RJ-11 phone jack. You can find the service solution that best suits your needs by typing VOIP into your internet browser, and clicking on the links to different service providers to compare choices.
VOIP using a VOIP phone
Standalone Ethernet hard phones look like a standard telephone except they have an Ethernet port instead of a phone jack. This port connects you directly with a VOIP service provider. This option is self-contained on a ‘hard phone’ and does not require a computer to make or receive calls.
Connecting Directly through VOIP
It is possible to bypass a VOIP service provider and connect to another VOIP user directly over the internet. If you are trying to call someone who has older forms of router technology such as NAT, you may have difficulty getting through.
Why should I use VOIP?
The two main benefits are:
- Lower cost
- Increased functionality
For the most part there is a much lower cost associated with using VOIP over traditional phone service. This is because phone companies have to be transparent and bill directly for services used. In some cases, VOIP users consider it a free service without any additional monthly charges on their bill, the costs being absorbed seamlessly in their monthly internet bill.
VOIP can offer possibilities that are not available through traditional land lines.
- Calls are immediately routed to your VOIP phone. Regardless of where you are in the world, you can receive calls wherever there is Internet access.
- Call centre, support and sales people can work from anywhere in the world with Internet access.
- Conference calls can be conducted without the use of special hardware.
- Overall cost is lower than traditional methods.
However, there are some drawbacks to VOIP as a telephone service:
- If your internet goes down so does your phone service.
- Sometimes call quality can suffer for no apparent reason.
- If you are on a wireless connection then quality can be inconsistent.