Simply put, VOIP is using an IP network like the Internet for voice conversations. Instead of using traditional land lines to make voice calls, you use a broadband connection to the Internet and thereby by-pass telephone company services AND charges. More about regular phone service versus VOIP…
Another big advantage to VOIP is that you receive incoming calls to your VOIP phone no matter where you are in the world. The caller always dials the same number, but you could be in Paris, Montreal, or Timbuktu. As long as you have an Internet connection and your VOIP phone plugged into the internet, or VOIP software running on your computer, you can receive and make calls.
That’s not all. Most VOIP services include loads of great features that traditional telephone companies charge for, like voice mail, call forwarding, call waiting, three-way calling and call transfer. Now that is pretty cool.
Wait a Minute, is VOIP Too Good to be True?
If VOIP is such a great thing, why isn’t everybody jumping on the bandwagon? Well, the bandwagon is certainly crowded, and there are some drawbacks to VOIP.
For instance, during power outages, you’ll have no Internet connection, and therefore, no phone service. In other words, no power, no phone.
Bad or unreliable internet connections can result in poor voice quality, such as clipping, voice delay, or dropped calls.
And emergency 911 service may not work as you expect. More about the advantages and disadvantages of VOIP home phone service…
Survey VOIP Broadband Phone Providers for the Best Deal
So, why should you give VOIP a try? You should because you have the potential to save a lot of money in long distance charges and because the start up costs are FREE to minimal.There are a number of ways to get started.
Choose a VoIP broadband phone provider. Companies like Vonage and Packet8 offer packages for IP to landline phone calls at rates well below traditional telephone and long distance companies.
Choose a free Voice over IP service provided by companies like Skype, Gizmo Project and Free World Dialup if you just want to try VOIP without a big dollar commitment. In this case, the free call is from one computer to another, and both are running the same or compatible VoIP software. To make and received calls on your computer, you need the client software installed, a microphone and a headset.
Call the World for Less
If you are looking to connect with friends and family in different parts of the world, VOIP offers great alternative to traditional long distance companies, especially if you plan to place long distance calls and international calls frequently.
When comparing VOIP service plans, look for the rates to other countries. Especially if you make calls to the UK, India, Pakistan, Philippines the cost savings will amaze you.
So What Do I Really Need?
Depending on how you want to make VOIP calls, your equipment needs vary. If you want to use a regular phone, you need an ATA adaptor or a special VOIP phone that plugs directly into your high speed broadband connection. Service providers normally provide this equipment as part of your service plan.
For computer-to-computer calls, you just need a computer with sound card, VOIP software, a microphone, and earphones or speakers. VOIP software is often free to download and there are literally dozens of good packages out there.More about the hardware and software you need to get started using VOIP.
If all this is already leaving you in the dark, STOP reading right now and go to our easy to follow VoIP tutorial. Here’s where you’ll learn the basics. We’ve also compiled a VOIP glossary of terms and definitions that will help you keep everything straight.