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What In The World Is VoIP?

By: D Ruplinger
Published: November 19, 2005     

VoIP is the acronym for Voice Over Internet Protocol. You may have also heard VoIP referred to as Internet Voice, Voice Over The Internet or IP Telephony.

VoIP is a technology that lets a person use a broadband Internet connection to make telephone calls instead of using a regular land-line telephone.

The types of VoIP services vary with provider. With some you can only call other people who have the same service you do. But more and more service providers have service packages that allow you to use VoIP to call anybody who has a telephone number whether it is a local call, a long distance call, a cell phone, or an international phone number.

Another thing that varies is what you use to make the calls when using VoIP. Depending on what the service provider you choose offers and what your preferences are, calls can be completed by using a computer, a specially designed VoIP phone, or a regular phone that you attach a special adapter to.

A common question people ask about VoIP is how it works. The technology coverts the analog voice signal from the phone into a digital signal. That digital signal then travels over the Internet. When the signal reaches the person being called, the signal is transferred back into a protocol the end user's equipment can read. If the VoIP service provider you choose assigns you a regular telephone number then anyone with a phone can call you. They won't need any specialized equipment.

One advantage of having VoIP service is that you do not need to have a separate phone line. You can use your broadband Internet connection for both your online computer connection and your phone service. And you can be using your computer and your VoIP service at the same time.

Another advantage of VoIP service is that it can cost much less than having regular phone service especially if you make a lot of long distance or international calls. Depending on the service provider you use, an attractively priced package with unlimited long distance minutes may be included. And international rates are great - most cost less than 10 cents a minute and some international calls are less than 5 cents a minute.

Another advantage of some VoIP service plans is that you can choose a home calling area and area code outside of where you live. This can be an attractive option if you make a large portion of your calls to one specific area. This can be a disadvantage too because then your neighbor down the street or relative two blocks away may have to pay long distance rates to call you.

Another disadvantage you need to be aware of if you are considering purchasing VoIP service is that it may not work if your power goes out. This means you may not have phone access in the case of an emergency.

Another disadvantage is that some VoIP services do not work with the United State's E-911 systems. But regulations now require VoIP service providers to make you aware that their system does not work with E-911 before you sign up. Other providers do have E-911 integrated into their systems. They do it by assigning a phone number to your modem and then associating your address with that modem. That information is given to local authorities. Then, if you dial 9-1-1 the address associated with that modem will show on the 9-1-1 system.

Be aware however that if you move the modem to another physical address you need to make sure your VoIP service provider is aware so that the address associated with the modem can be changed to the new address. Otherwise if you dial 9-1-1 from the new address your old address will show in the 9-1-1 system.

Another thing to be aware of if you are considering VoIP service as a replacement for your traditional phone service is that some VoIP providers do not offer services you may be used to having such as directory assistance and white page listings.

VoIP services and plans are changing frequently as the technology develops and new companies offer VoIP service. If you are considering VoIP service the most important thing to do is research to determine if VoIP is right for you and then to determine the best service provider for you. The best way to do this is to compare several VoIP services and also compare the VoIP services you are considering with your existing phone service.

If after doing your research you decide to purchase VoIP service, check to see if the provider has a trial period in which you can cancel. Most service providers have some sort of trial period. One popular provider has a 30 day trial period. If you try the service and decide it is not for you, you have 30 days to cancel.

The trial period is a good time for you to find out what the quality of your voice calls is going to be with VoIP because it varies. Some providers are able to provide the same voice quality as traditional phone service providers but others may not be able to provide voice quality that is as high as that of traditional phone service.

By taking a little time to do research and check out several VoIP providers you have the best chance of having a good buying experience if you do decide to purchase VoIP service.

D Ruplinger is a featured writer for . For more information about VoIP and VoIP service providers visit .

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