Introduction to VoIP

By: Mike Bromley

What is VoIP?

First things first, VoIP stands for Voice over InternetProtocol. At a base level that means phone calls over yourbroadband connection. You really do need a high-speed connectionto take advantage of VoIP to get phone calls comparable to anormal landline phone. Traditional "dial-up" connections are notreally sufficient.

VoIP works in a different way to your home phone. Your homephone is based on an analogue network, whereas VoIP is based ona digital one. Essentially when you speak into a VoIP enabledphone or headset your voice is converted into digital packets;it is then compressed to help your Internet connection run moreefficiently and then it is transferred down the connection muchlike an email. Once it reaches its destination the process isreversed.

Why might I want to switch to VoIP?

It's a good question. We all have a working phone in our homesor business, why should we change? Lets look at the advantagesand disadvantages of VoIP

Advantages

Well to put it simply - cost. VoIP makes calls significantlycheaper. And (Depending on your package) for a low cost monthlysubscription local and national calls can be made for free, andinternational calls made at a significantly lower rate.

When you subscribe to a VoIP service it is possible to get aphone number for life. You will be able to take your number withyou whenever you move (or even travel) with obvious benefits.The contract packages that companies who are offering theservice contain for the most part all the features and more thatyour current phone service supplier offers. You are likely tofind most VoIP companies offering free voicemail, callforwarding, caller ID, call waiting, call waiting ID, 3 waycalling, speed dialling and much more.

VoIP is very much in it's infancy; the technology is progressingall the time. Future benefits that we may not be able toenvisage yet are certain to appear, you current analogue phonesystem will not be able to compete.

Disadvantages

Your VoIP phones system will be exclusively based on yourbroadband connection, if you ISP has a period of servicedowntime then you will not be able to make calls. Additionallyif your electricity supply has a power out then you will not beable to make any calls, this includes calls to the emergencyservices. Some providers have already got a work around with theemergency calls, so make sure when you decide on a supplier theyprovide this.

A further disadvantage currently is the set up of the VoIP isnot the simplest procedure to undertake, though many supplierswill assist with installation.

The quality of the call via VoIP can be slightly less than yourcurrent analogue phone, but the technology is steadilyimproving, and before long you will not be able to tell thedifference in call quality between the two mediums.

© Mike Bromley 200

VOIP
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