Your Guide to Voice Over IP (VOIP)
The first time that a voice was sent over the internet was in 1973. A company called ARPANET had a private intranet system. The early system required two computers to be connected on the same system. This was similar to the way that a walkie talkie worked over radio waves; the two devices have to be on the same frequency.
Internet phone was first marketed by a company called Vocaltec. This technology worked in a functional way, but could not take off because the service was slow due to the dial up speed of the time.
With the ability to use broadband signals and have high speed wireless servers the popularity and the functionality of voice over internet protocol has increased rapidly. From Google phone to Skype, voice over internet protocol or VOIP, has become much more mainstream.
What is VOIP?
Voice over internet protocol is the use of your computer to make phone calls. You can voice chat, conference call, chat via video and even text. This technology is changing the way that we communicate. When once everyone had a cell phone; now everyone may just use a computer.
How Does VOIP Work?
In the simplest of terms you dial a phone number with your VOIP service. Your voice is received through a microphone over a broadband line. What you say is converted to a telephone line and the listener can hear you. When they speak what they say is converted to data and then you can hear them.
You can use your computer, your phone or a special phone to make the calls, depending on the service you have. If you're using a phone, then it rings just the way that a normal phone does now. If you're using your computer then the service provider gives you software that alerts you to an incoming call.
What Should I Look for From a Good Voice Over IP Provider?
When you're considering the switch from a landline to a voice over IP line you should be very particular. This will be the service that you use to make phone calls. Besides the level of call quality that you will be looking for, you should also ask:
- Is there a setup fee
- What is the monthly fee
- Can I video chat
- Can I keep my old number
- Is there call waiting
- Can I call landline numbers
- Can landline numbers call me
- Which operating system can I use
- Can I text
- How strong is customer service
How Does a Voice Over IP Service Handle Local and Long Distance?
One of the biggest hooks for the phone company has been with the local and long distance rates. Where you once had to pay extra to call the next town over, you can now call the next country over without an additional fee. The local and long distance debate is something that you need to look at when choosing a VOIP provider. Some providers only allow you to call those in the network. Some VOIP providers will allow you to call anyone, but limit the number of minutes you have. Similar to your home phone and cell phone, when choosing an internet based phone be sure to read the small print.
What are the 911 VOIP Regulations?
Interconnected voice over IP allows you take your service anywhere. This is similar to how you can head anywhere with your cell phone. Your VOIP service is required by the Federal Communications Commission to comply with the enhanced 911 services rules. The issues that may arise when 911 is called due to VOIP are:
- The call may not connect to the Public Safety Answering Point
- When the call connects operators may not be able to see your location
- You may need to tell them where you are
- Service may not work if the internet is down or overloaded
How Much Does a Voice Over IP Service Cost?
With a voice over IP service the cost will vary depending on the level of service and how you use it. Some companies charge you a setup fee to get everything ready and connected. Some companies do not need to setup anything to make the service work. The monthly fee for a VOIP service can range from three dollars to thirty dollars.
Why Would I Need VOIP?
As a small business or as an individual there are many benefits to a VOIP service. One of the most obvious is when you consider the option of video chatting. You can chat with anyone in the world. This can be great when someone you love is far away. It is one thing to hear someone's voice; it is another to see them.