VoIP or Voice Over Internet Protocol (sometimes called Internet Telephony) is touted in some circles as the technology of future. The reasoning is simple, really. VoIP is bringing possibilities to the forefront of technological thinking because the possibilities were listed as impossible just a few years ago. VoIP uses a broadband internet connection for routing telephone calls, as opposed to conventional switching and fiberoptic alternatives. This process holds great promise in providing higher efficiency and lower cost for communication consumers. One interesting aspect of the technology is that, for the user, no large scale infrastructure is required. It's all about combining the functionality of the internet and a conventional phone into one single service with minimal software and hardware support.
The most common way VoIP works is that the end user establishes a hi speed broadband connection, a router and a VoIP gateway. Instead of a standard telephone line, the router sends the telephone calls over an internet connection. The VoIP gateway, placed somewhere in direct proximity of the connected Internet converts the analog signals into digital format, which are further broken down into smaller chunks called 'packets', before sending it over the internet, much like the way data is transmitted to and from the computer. These packets are sent to their final destination and instructions for bringing back into an understandable form are embedded in them. It then goes through a VoIP gateway where the packets are reconverted into the original analog format utilizing a PSTN (Public Telephone Switch Network), thereby routing the call to the number the caller has dialed blending old school technology and hi tech delivery in a seamless and instantaneous way.
VoIP does require a high speed (broadband) Internet access connection in order to be possible. DSL or cable services will work just fine. Specific equipment will vary on the VoIP service provider. Some don't require anything more than that you have a headset combo or desktop microphone. Other companies have special adapters which connect to your high speed modem and enable you to use your regular telephone. Anyway, you'll need a device to talk into and something to allow you to hear the person on the other end:
* Many IP Phones and ATAs can work without a Router if they're plugged into a modem connected to an ISP that uses a DHCP connection type like Optus Cable. Mind you, this would mean nothing else would be able to be plugged into it (like your PC) at the same time so I can't see that option suiting too many people. Some other ATAs and IP phones even have PPPoE clients to connect to ADSL through a non-routing modem, but again, why bother when most ADSL modems available now are Routers anyway.
Less Expensive Phone Service
By dropping traditional phone service and switching to VoIP, consumers typically save a significant amount of money on their monthly phone service. According to a recent survey by Consumer Reports, people who have purchased VoIP service are reportedly saving around $50 each month on their phone bill.
Affordable Long Distance and International Calling
VoIP service providers offer unlimited local and long-distance calls to the United States and Canada for a low, flat monthly rate, which usually ranges from $15 to $30. International VoIP calls typically cost just a few cents per minute. For example, Qwest, a traditional phone service provider, charges approximately $1.21 per minute for calls to the United Kingdom (http://www.qwest.com/residential/products/callingplans/international_rates.html). SunRocket, a VoIP phone service provider, charges just $.03 per minute.
Free Calling Features
VoIP users enjoy a variety of free calling features which they previously had to pay for with traditional phone service. Those features include voicemail, caller ID, call conferencing, call waiting, call forwarding, and many others. VoIP users can have their voicemail messages e-mailed to them for easy playback and referencing, and with some providers, users can click to call contacts directly from their Outlook. Furthermore, consumers can obtain extra numbers (also known as virtual numbers), enabling out-of-town friends and family members to dial a local number with which to reach the VoIP user easily and affordably.
What many VoIP users enjoy most about their phone service is the convenience. People place and receive phone calls in much the same way they did with traditional phone service. In many cases, they place calls exactly as they did with traditional phone service. Also, consumers can track their call activity, manage voicemail, view billing information, and change account information online at their convenience 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Most VoIP providers allow users to take their VoIP service with them anywhere in the world. With a high-speed Internet connection and the VoIP phone adapter, callers can place and accept VoIP calls from any location at any time at no additional charge. This feature is listed on VoipReview as the “Travel Globally” feature.
As with any emerging technology, VoIP has a few potential pitfalls, such as:
All of these challenges depend on the service provider, and will likely be resolved in the near future. VoipReview.org enables consumers to have peace of mind while they search for the VoIP service they desire by providing them with the information they need to make an appropriate decision.
The biggest advantage of VoIP is that the customers can make calls from anywhere in the world where a broadband internet connection is available. The customers can take their IP phones or ATA's with them on national and international trips and still can manage to access what is essentially an individual's domestic phone line.
Then there are the softphones, which a software application that loads the VoIP services onto the desktop or laptop. Some even simulate an interface that looks like a telephone, with which you can place VoIP calls to anybody around the world, through a standard broadband connection.
Most VoIP services come with the caller id, call waiting, call transfer, repeat dialing and three-way dialing features. For additional features such as call filtering, forwarding a call, or sending calls directly to the voice mail, the service provider may assess an additional fee. Most VoIP services also allow the user to check his/her voicemail over the web or attach messages to an e-mail that is sent to his/her PDA or PC.
Generally, the facilities and components provided by VOIP phone system suppliers and service operators may vary in significant ways. It is advisable to check the pros and cons before subscribing. Make sure that you have available technical support for the possible compatibility issues that could arise between the existing and new hardware components.
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