Voice over Internet Protocol, or VoIP, is a technique and technology for the efficient transmission of voice conversations and other multimedia sessions over Internet Protocol networks, like the Internet. It differs from traditional telephone communication in that it operates using packets (or data) instead of traditional phone lines. Packets can be sent by means of standard protocols like email or even across the Web using peer to peer applications (such as Skype, which is a software application that allows individuals to chat with each other over the Internet). VoIP is an internet based telephone solution for enabling secure and efficient communication via IP networks. It has the potential to save telecommunications companies and service providers money, while providing solutions that are capable of replacing traditional phone services completely.
The basic function of VoIP is the same as that of a conventional telephone service provider (POTS), which is to connect a caller to the network and to provide voice communication over the network. However, VoIP provides the added capability of transmitting the sound and messages over the internet. When VoIP was first introduced, it offered voice calling over the internet to individuals who were willing to pay a higher fee than traditional phone providers. However, because many individuals do not have extra cash on hand to pay for long distance or international calls, this service has been subject to fierce competition.
VoIP is useful for business organizations and consumers. Businesses often require their employees to use their telephone gadgets wherever they may be located, and may need direct access to the company’s internal computer system to access emails and documents. Consumers also typically utilize their cell phones for making long distance calls and may not have access to their computers at work. Providers of this service offer both analog and digital phone services, which allows them to connect people through internet lines. Digital telephone services are far more reliable than those of analog phones, and they are far less likely to suffer from “barred connections,” which is the term given to a situation where two different lines can share the same telephone signal.
There are a few factors that you should consider before choosing an Internet telephony service. One is how compatible your device will be with the VoIP provider. Each type of service will operate differently with various devices and software, so you will need to evaluate which features are most important to you and make sure that your VoIP provider offers those features for you.
The second factor is whether the Internet Telephony features you are interested in will meet your needs. Some companies charge by the minute, while others offer unlimited calls and send and receive text messages for a flat monthly fee. The fees may vary, and most plans feature some free or inexpensive features. If these free or inexpensive features are important to you, check out the price upfront rather than paying for them over time as you might with a traditional plan.
Once you have narrowed down the choices, you’ll want to compare the different features that each company provides. Most providers today offer both caller ID and call waiting for their services. These two services allow you to place calls and receive return calls without missing important calls. Some services also provide VoIP calling with voice mail to help you stay organized and in touch. And some VoIP providers include fax and other Internet fax functions in their services.
As you consider the different features and options available, consider what kinds of plans you’d like to use. Most providers provide plans that are either prepaid or postpaid. With a prepaid plan, you are required to have a high-speed Internet connection. Postpaid plans have a limited number of minutes and are usually designed to be used on a short-term basis, such as vacation trips.
Before choosing an Internet Telephony plan, you should also take into account your phone use. You may need a headset so that you can speak to the customer service representative or a fellow employee on the phone. In this case, it’s often recommended that you choose a plan that includes a headset along with free long distance calls. If you already have a headset, consider if you want to use the same one for both services or if you’d prefer to use a different model. This is important because different models handle calls differently and using the same model will affect how the phone works.