Define your Needs When Shopping for VOIP Services

By: Jon Arnold

After all the research you have finally gotten around to doing on the topic of VOIP and VOIP services, you are just about ready to take the plunge. Making the decision to go with VOIP, however, is only half the battle. There are a truckload of VOIP providers out there, each one telling you that their service is the best one since sliced bread, so how do you make an intelligent and informed decision about which one to go with?

The first thing you need to realize is that not all VOIP services are created equally. One of the limiting factors is your high-speed Internet connection, since that will be used for your home VOIP to make and receive calls. VOIP will work reliably with DSL or cable (or better), but is not recommended if all you have is a satellite high-speed Internet connection, and VOIP is not recommended if you have access only to a wireless connection.

The vast majority of problems with VOIP from virtually any VOIP provider comes down to a lack of a reliable high-speed Internet connection. Your Internet provider may CLAIM you are getting reliable service and a fast connection, but if you are having trouble getting something as simple as VOIP to work on it, then they are blowing smoke at you and it may be time to look for another Internet provider. In terms of the Internet connection part of VOIP, that is just about as simple as things will ever get, and your Internet provider should be able to handle it. If they cannot, they may have purposely blocked it because they want to sell you VOIP services themselves ... at twice the price!

Now you need to determine what VOIP features you need. Almost all the VOIP providers and VOIP plans provider caller ID, voicemail, and call waiting, so let's see what else needs to be considered, and this is where things start to differ and get quite interesting.

Almost all of them offer unlimited long distance calling in the continental US. But do you call Canada a lot, or make frequent calls to Puerto Rico? If so, there are VOIP providers who include Canada and Puerto Rico in their unlimited calling plans.

Do you have friends, perhaps your parents or a sibling that you talk to a lot but they do not have VOIP? Is it the case where they call you frequently? You may wish to consider a plan that includes a virtual number or where you can get a virtual number cheaply. A virtual number is a phone number in that city. Say you live in Detroit so you of course have a Detroit phone number on your VOIP phone. Say you talk to your sister a lot in Houston who does not have a VOIP phone. You can get a Houston phone number in addition to your Detroit phone number, so now your sister can make a LOCAL call to your Houston number, and when she does, your VOIP phone at your home in Detroit will ring so it doesn't cost her anything! Is that cool or what?

Determine your needs and then start comparing VOIP features to see which VOIP provider offers the most bang for the bucks, based on what you need. Don't pay extra for VOIP services that you will only use once in a blue moon.

VOIP
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 

» More on VOIP