What is VoIP

VoIP means "Voice over IP" and it is quite simply a way of utilizing the Internet for telephone conversations. The primary motivations for doing so are cost and convenience as VoIP is significantly less expensive than typical telephone long distance packages, plus one high speed Internet connection can serve for multiple phone lines. VoIP may also allow you to make a call directly from a computer using a conventional telephone or a microphone. How Can I Place a VoIP Call? Depending on the service, one way to place a VoIP call is to pick up your phone and dial the number, using an adaptor that connects to your existing high-speed Internet connection. When placing a VoIP call using a phone with an adapter, you'll hear a dial tone and dial just as you always have. The phone call goes over the Internet to the called party's local telephone company for the completion of the call.

What Kind of Equipment Do I Need? A high speed Internet connection is required. This can be through a cable modem, or high speed services such as DSL or a local area network. You can hook up an inexpensive microphone to your computer and send your voice through a cable modem or connect a phone directly to a telephone adaptor. Is there a difference between making a Local Call and a Long Distance Call? Some VoIP providers offer their services for free, normally only for calls to other subscribers to the service. Your VoIP provider may permit you to select an area code different from the area in which you live.

This means you may not incur long distance charges if you call a number in your area code regardless of geography. It also means that people who call you may incur long distance charges depending on their area code and service. Some VoIP providers charge for a long distance call to a number outside your calling area, similar to existing, traditional wireline telephone service. Other VoIP providers permit you to call anywhere at a flat rate for a fixed number of minutes.

If I have VoIP service, who can I call? Depending upon your service, you might be limited only to other subscribers to the service, or you may be able to call any phone number, anywhere in the world. The call can be made to a local number, a mobile phone, to a long distance number, or an international number. You may even utilize the service to speak with more than one person at a time. The person you are calling does not need any special equipment, just a phone. What Are Some Advantages of Internet Voice? Because VoIP is digital, it may offer features and services that are not available with a traditional phone.

If you have a broadband internet connection, you need not maintain and pay the additional cost for a line just to make telephone calls. With many VoIP plans you can talk for as long as you want with any person in the world (the requirement is that the other person has an Internet connection). You can also talk with many people at the same time without any additional cost.

What Are Some disadvantages of Internet Voice? If you're considering replacing your traditional telephone service with VoIP, there are some possible differences: -Some VoIP services don't work during power outages and the service provider may not offer backup power. -Not all VoIP services connect directly to emergency services through 9-1-1. -VoIP providers may or may not offer directory assistance/white page listings. Can I use my Computer While I talk on the Phone? Yes Can I Take My Phone Adapter with me When I Travel? You may be able to use your VoIP service wherever you travel as long as you have a high speed Internet connection available. In that case it would work the same as from your home or business. Does my Computer Have to be Turned on? Not if you are making calls with a phone and adaptor or special VoIP phone, but your broadband Internet connection needs to be active.

You can also use your computer while talking on the phone. How Do I Know If I have a VoIP phone Call? It will ring like any other call. Does the FCC Regulate VoIP? The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has worked to create an environment promoting competition and innovation to benefit consumers. Historically, the FCC has not regulated the Internet or the services provided over it. On February 12, 2004, the FCC found that an entirely Internet-based VoIP service was an unregulated information service. On the same day, the FCC began a broader proceeding to examine what its' role should be in this new environment of increased consumer choice and what it can best do to meet its role of safeguarding the public interest.

Summary VOIP stands for Voice over Internet Protocol, and is rapidly overtaking the traditional Voice Market. Several years ago, when most Internet Connections were Dial-Up, this technology didn't stand a chance against established phone services. However, with the High-Speed wired and wireless networks available today, this disruptive technology is recognized and opens up many new opportunities.

David Cowgill is the founder of the VoIP Blog: Voice over IP News ( http://www.aboutvoip.org ).

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