By Amber Lowery
Unless you live in a bubble, you have probably been hearing
allot of buzz lately about something called Voice Over IP
(VoIP). Perhaps you have heard that you can use VoIP to get
cheap or free long distance calling, even Internationally. The
good news is that this is true!
VoIP, which stands for Voice Over Internet Protocol is an
exciting synergy between computers and telephony, but don't
that scare you. VoIP is just as easy to use as any ordinary
telephone. So, you have heard the buzz and perhaps you are
curious about taking the plunge and getting set up with VoIP
service. Being so new, VoIP is still somewhat shrouded in
mystery. Help is here! In this article we will answer several
common questions most people have about VoIP Service and help
clear up the confusion about the technology and how it can
What Exactly is VoIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol)?
VoIP is a new technology that makes use of your broadband
connection to route your telephone calls over the internet,
rather than using the traditional analog telephone lines. This
has proven to be a very efficient and cost effective way to
place phone calls to anywhere in the world.
Who Can I call?
This depends upon your service provider. There are a few
different flavors of Voice Over IP Service. Most of the larger
VoIP service providers you see advertised to the consumer
market (such as Vonage, BlueSky, etc..) work just like your
existing phone and enable you to call any phone, anywhere.
What's It Going To Cost?
The cost for this service varies depending on the provider and
the service plan you select. Currently, most service providers
have plans that cost in the $10 - $25 monthly, which is
considerably cheaper than ordinary phone service. Keep in mind
that this service includes long distance calls. Usually, you
can choose from several plans that vary in cost depending on
the level of usage you desire. Most companies also offer an
unlimited plan that includes unlimited long distance calls.
You will also be plesantly surprised to find that many
such as caller id, call forwarding, call waiting, three way
calling, and even voice mail features often come standard with
most VoIP plans. Another great benefit is that as it currently
stands (in January 2006), the Government does not apply a tax
to your VoIP service, unlike the additional taxes and fees
are applied to your standard phone bill. This can amount to a
substantial savings alone, but this may only be a temporary
benefit. As VoIP gains in popularity, it is more than likely
that the Government will find a way to tax that as well.
Do I Need "Special Stuff"?
This depends on the provider, once again. One thing that you
must have is an always on broadband internet connection. This
means DSL or Cable Internet, for home users. Depending on whom
you get service with, you will likely have to connect just
regular phone to an adapter, or maybe purchase a special phone
to use with the service. Check for specials before you sign
sometimes the equipment is given away for free to encourage
to sign up. Regardless, the investment in hardware for home
users of VoIP is very minimal, if it costs you at all.
Can I call 911?
You need to check with the provider to ensure that they do
indeed provide this functionality. That said, in May 2005, the
US Government ordered all interconnected VoIP Providers to
provide 911 functionality to their subscribers.
Sounds... Too Good, What's the Catch?
Well, there is a minor catch which is that if your internet
goes out, so does your phone. This isn't usually too big of a
problem, however as most modern broadband ISPs do a great job
of maintaining reliable service.
Where Do I Find VoIP Providers?
Usually, it is not important that you find a local provider
just as long as the provider you choose is based in the same
country. Therefore, the internet is a very valuable resource
for finding and comparing VoIP providers.
Which one Do I choose?
The VoIP provider that you choose is a personal choice, as
all tend to work slightly differently. What sounds the most
feasible for your setup and usage requirements is the best
choice for you. Do keep in mind that this is a rapidly
technology and that changes are occurring all the time. You
want to choose a company that you feel will be able to provide
you reliable service in the future.
About The Author: For more information on VoIP (Voice Over IP)
technology and to compare VoIP Providers, visit us at:
www.voipvolt.com and www.voiplink.info