What is VoIP?
VoIP, or Voice over Internet Protocol, is a type of phone system that uses computer/telephony integration technology to make calls. VoIP routes calls using an internet connection instead of the Public Switched Telephone Network (PTSN). VoIP is often referred to as an internet-based phone system.
Is VoIP less expensive than using a “landline” phone?
VoIP phone bills, or monthly service costs, are typically less expensive than traditional phone system expenses for a few reasons. Since VoIP calls are made using an internet connection, there is no geographic origin for the calls you make- there is no way to assess long distance charges. Most VoIP providers charge a flat rate for service that is considerably lower than traditional phone system costs. VoIP also requires minimal equipment, and can be installed easily without the help of a technician in most cases.
Can I keep my number?
Most VoIP companies allow you to “port” your number over from a landline provider. You can also ask for a number in a different area code, or for a 1-800 number.
Do I need any special equipment?
Most VoIP systems do not require any special equipment- you can even use your current phone with the system. If you’re using an enterprise-grade or business phone system, you may need to purchase VoIP phones or adaptors, which convert a traditional phone signal into a VoIP signal. You can also use a headset and microphone connected to your computer to make calls.
How do I set up a VoIP system?
The way your system is set up will depend on the provider you choose. Most VoIP companies allow you to download system software directly from their website- a process that takes less than an hour- so that you can begin using the system right away. If your system has multiple lines, extensions, or designated bandwidth, you may need assistance in configuring it.
What does it cost?
VoIP service can cost as little as $20 a month or less and as much as several hundred dollars monthly for business or enterprise grade systems with loads of features. Keep in mind that the monthly cost is just for the phone service- you’ll still need to pay for your own connection costs, usually through an internet service provider. Some providers also charge fees for setup or initial system configuration.
How does a VoIP calling plan work?
VoIP calling plans work similarly to cell phone plans- you can choose an “unlimited” option or purchase a plan with monthly minute limitations. Plans are typically billed as a monthly service charge.
Do I still need a landline?
Some VoIp users like to keep a landline in case of emergencies. Since VoIP uses an internet connection to make calls, service can be interrupted in the event of power outages or surges. Many VoIP providers offer “backup” solutions to ensure you’ll always have phone service when you need it.
If you connect to VoIP using DSL, you will be required to maintain a landline in order to keep your connection active. You can, however, change your phone service plan to a less expensive option, since the phone itself will only be used to connect to the internet.
Can I make calls to non-VoIP phones?
Absolutely. VoIP service allows you to make and receive calls exactly in the same way you would using a landline.
Can I make international calls?
Yes- a VoIP phone can place a call to any phone with a dial tone, no matter where it is located. VoIP calls are also less expensive than international calls using traditional phones.
Can I send faxes using the VoIP connection?
Some VoIP service providers, such as Vonage, ViaTalk, Packet8 and Lingo offer faxing capabilities. Many VoIP providers offer a dedicated fax line as part of a business service package. Taking advantage of such a plan is a good idea- you’ll be able to send and receive faxes without adversely impacting the traffic that travels over your phone connection.
Can I use a wireless internet connection with a VoIP system?
The connection method isn’t as important as the speed of the connection. Typically, a standard wired broadband connection works more effectively than a wireless connection, but if your wireless access is reliable and fast, you can use it to connect your VoIP system anywhere.
Is VoIP call quality as good as that of a regular phone?
Yes. When VoIP was first becoming popular, many users were concerned about “packet loss,” which usually occurs when calls are routed over the “open” internet- other traffic can interfere with voice data. Using a dedicated connection or designating bandwidtch for voice data alleviates these concerns. As internet connections have become faster, voice data is transmitted more effectively- call quality is similar to that of a traditional or “landline” phone.
I don't understand the terminology. Can you help?
Why should I use VoIP?
Users often cite cost savings as one of the main benefits to using VoIP, but there are also many others. VoIP systems are flexible- you can answer calls from the same number just about anywhere. They’re also highly customizable, easy to manage, and great for small businesses that are hoping to expand.