Novice Guide to VOIP Service for Home

By: Jon Arnold

In the process of trying to explain to some older friends why they should consider VOIP service for their home, it struck me that I have not found a true beginner's guide or novice guide that explains what VOIP is and why it may be a good economic and financial decision. This article will address home VOIP service from the beginner's standpoint, and while not addressing each and every question or concern about VOIP, should provide enough basic information to the point where it will give you a background to know what you are looking at and whether or not it makes sense for your home.

Basic Requirement

The VOIP service provider, almost regardless of which one you choose, does NOT provide your high-speed Internet access. When you buy the VOIP service from them, they assume you already have that. You see, VOIP service uses your existing high-speed Internet service to make and receive phone calls, and the VOIP provider assumes you already have that to email, surf the web, etc.

Even if you do already have high-speed Internet access, it needs to be stable, fast, and reliable. If it is not all three of those things, you are not going to be happy with VOIP service from ANY provider. If your high-speed Internet connection is via satellite, do not consider VOIP, satellite will not work well with it.

Your Local Phone Number

In larger cities and major metropolitan areas, you can almost always get a phone number for your VOIP phone that would be considered a LOCAL phone call for people in your area who want to call you. But in many less-than-metropolitan areas, it is not possible to get a local phone number for your VOIP phone. You can still get and use VOIP service but you won't have a local phone number. For example, if you live in Podunk Idaho, you may not be able to get a phone number for your VOIP phone that is local to Podunk, but you CAN get a local number for Boise Idaho. The problem with this is that when people want to call you on your VOIP phone, they will actually be making a long distance call to reach you, since your phone number is a Boise number.

If you are just considering VOIP service for making long distance calls and really don't care that local residents will need to make a long distance call to reach your VOIP phone, then this is not an issue, but it is something to be aware of nonetheless.



Many VOIP service providers will also give you a second (and third and fourth, etc) phone number which is known as a Virtual Number. Say you live in Chicago and have a Chicago phone number for your VOIP phone. But you frequently get calls from friends in Tampa Florida and Denver Colorado. You can get virtual numbers for Tampa and Denver, so that when your friends in Tampa and Denver want to call you, they can call a phone number that is LOCAL to them (where most local calls are free) but it will still ring on your VOIP phone at your home in Chicago.

The Economics Of VOIP

Assuming you have a good stable and reliable high-speed Internet connection, this part is your basic no-brainer. For a traditional phone from the phone company with no extra features like caller ID, voice mail, call waiting, etc, you can expect to pay $25 to $30 per month, and that is just for a dial tone and local calls, with no long distance included. By contrast, your VOIP phone provides unlimited local calling, unlimited nationwide long distance calling, plus caller ID, voice mail, call waiting, and various other things depending on the provider, and it does so for around $20 per month. Our Editor's Choice top pick at our web site does all this for under $17 per month!

Putting It All Together

The last part is the phone itself. Do you need a special telephone handset? No, you can use the phone you already have. Can you use a cordless phone? Yes, that presents no problem at all. Simply take the phone jack from your existing phone (known as an RJ-11 jack) and plug it into the small box (about the size of a deck of cards) that the VOIP provider sends you when you order service, plug the other end of the box into a spare jack on your high-speed Internet connection router (known as an RJ-45 jack) and you are good to go after you activate your VOIP phone.

It may seem like high-tech rocket science but it really isn't. The economics are unbeatable and the voice quality (again, assuming you have a rock solid reliable high-speed Internet connection) is as good or better than your traditional phone. With this foundation of knowledge, you may want to check out more details and our Editor's Choice VOIP services at our web site. It could be one of the smartest financial decisions you will make this year!

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