Voice over IP or VoIP is a great way to bring down your phone bills, consolidate many phone numbers and devices, and get better features and service. For most people however, VoIP still remains something of a mystery and though there’s little doubt in anyone’s mind that VoIP is the future of communications, many are still unaware of what the real difference is between the two. This article will attempt to clear out some of these doubts and provide newbies with a firm understanding of what VoIP is all about.
VoIP and the Internet
The first big difference between VoIP and regular phones is that VoIP relies on the Internet instead of traditional phone lines. Yes, this means that an Internet connection is absolutely vital for you to make or receive VoIP calls. This isn’t as big a handicap as it once was. These days, every house has a broadband connection that is more than sufficient to handle VoIP functionality and many homes also have wi fi going through them, thus allowing even mobile phones to make VoIP calls.
Sending voice through the Internet isn’t particularly difficult. Just like you can receive emails and video through the net, you can easily talk to someone else on the phone.
Telephone Numbers and VoIP
Ultimately, the biggest challenge for VoIP is to connect to those who are still on traditional PSTN phone lines. For this, VoIP users need a telephone number and this is why VoIP isn’t completely free to use unlike email. Connecting VoIP to telephone carriers takes a fee and this is what is passed on to the customer. You can retain your own phone number even after you switch to a VoIP provider for a small monthly fee.
If you wish however, you can obtain a new number from your VoIP provider for no extra charge. The disadvantage of doing that is you cannot take that number with you when you switch providers since the VoIP service leases them from the telephone company and gives it to you – unlike a regular phone number from a telco which is legally your property.
As far as quality goes if you have even a regular broadband connection, you have more than enough for VoIP. This means your calls will always be clear and of the best quality. You might need to have a bit of management if you’re a heavy downloader and regularly max out your Internet speed. Businesses especially face this problem and they get around it via network management and QoS policies making use of Virtual LANs.