VOIP, or Voice over Internet Protocol, is a type of phone service that allows you to make calls over the internet. You do not have to have a local phone service at all, and VOIP is often more cost-effective because it has a number of features that traditional phone services do not offer, and in many cases, it is actually cheaper than other phone services.
The Equipment Needed for VOIP
To make VOIP calls, you first have to have an internet connection. You do not actually require a computer to make these calls, but you do need either an IP phone or an analog telephone adapter, or ATA. This adaptor has two connections on it. One plugs into your standard phone, while the other plugs into one of the Ethernet connections on the back of a standard router. Then you connect to the internet and go through your selected VOIP solution provider to actually make phone calls.
The other option is to purchase an IP phone. These phones essentially have their own IP address just like any other device on a computer network (computer, smart phone, wireless gaming device, etc.). However, instead of plugging the phone into a standard telephone jack, it has an Ethernet connection and is plugged directly into your router. Then you go online, connect to your selected VOIP service provider, and make your calls.
The Lower Cost of VOIP
Many home VOIP services cost less than $10 a month. Of course, there is the cost for equipment, but that’s a one-time cost. You also have to always have an internet connection, but many people pay for that anyway. The reason why the cost is so low is that transmitting calls over the internet cost nothing. Even international calls do not cost any extra. The reason VOIP companies do charge a monthly fee is so they can maintain their servers and the other equipment that actually handles your call. In some cases, the VOIP service actually includes its own internet connection that, while you cannot use for data, handles all of your voice calls.
There are many great features provided with a VOIP solution provider that you do not get with traditional services. Many IP phones allow you to send and receive text messages, set up a three-way call, block calls, and transfer your existing phone number to your new VOIP service. With IP phones, your phone number is actually attached to the phone itself, not your physical location. This means you can take your IP phone with you to any location that has an Ethernet jack and internet connection. Just plug in your phone and you will receive all of your calls just as if you were at home. This is great for businesses since it means employees can work from home or, while traveling, receive calls as if they were in the office. There’s no call forwarding to set up. In fact, there are some VOIP packages specifically aimed at businesses and offer faxing, voice-to-email conversion, and more.