VoIP Pros and Cons

By: Jason Hahn

One advantage of using VoIP is the cost of the service. Phone service using VoIP costs less than similar service offered from traditional phone services, especially in regards to long distance telephone calls. Long distance calls through VoIP are offered at flat rates, which will ultimately benefit the consumer. Also, VoIP allows the consumer to share its voice and data equipment, which means that the costs are also shared. In other words, if you have an Internet connection already in place, VoIP can be used at almost no extra cost, and any network capacity that you are not currently using can be used for making calls.

Another key benefit of using VoIP is the fact that incoming calls can be automatically routed to your VoIP phone regardless of where you are connected to the Internet. This is especially important for those who go on business trips.

VoIP phones can also be integrated with other Internet services, such as videoconferences and file transfers. A user can send or receive messages or data while on their VoIP phone.

One cause for concern with VoIP is emergency 911 service. Before the government stepped in, 911 was not an optional feature for VoIP service providers, and 911 calls made after-hours were not guaranteed to be routed to the local area's emergency call centers of the caller. However, the U.S. government required that all VoIP service providers make 911 service standard and functional by September 2005. Some VoIP service providers have appealed this deadline, so it would be wise for consumers to be sure of what their service provider's policy on 911 is.

Another disadvantage of the VoIP service is the lack of encryption, which means that it is relatively easy for someone to eavesdrop on a VoIP call and even change the content of the call. There are a few solutions to this problem, but they do not guarantee full security of any calls. Airtight security would require the user to utilize encryption and cryptographic authentication, which are not yet readily available to consumers.

A third drawback is the inconsistent sound quality of the calls made with VoIP. The sound quality is oftentimes fickle and calls often have delays and echoes as well. This means that some calls made with VoIP might not be as smooth and natural as calls made over landline phones.

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