VoIP is a method of making phone calls over the internet, rather than with a traditional land line.  This transmission allows you to make and receive calls from VoIP-based phones, mobile phones and even basic land lines.  The integration between a VoIP line and ordinary line is seamless and tends to be undetectable to both callers.

How VoIP Works

Similar to how a modem converts digital data signals from a computer into analogue when transmitting over an ordinary phone line, a VoIP adapter, or VoIP-enabled phone, uses SIP (Special Internet Protocol) to convert your voice into digital packets for transmission over the internet.

When making a call to another VoIP line, a VoIP adaptor logs onto a routing server which finds the destinations and sets the stage for the call.  From there, voice data is passed directly over the internet from the caller to the receiver.  When making a call to someone that has an ordinary or mobile line, the VoIP adaptor logs on in the same manner as mentioned above.  The routing server finds the destination as a PSTN (Public-Switch Telephone Network) number.  The call is then routed through the provider’s PSTN gateway and into the PSTN network as a standard call.  From there, both parties are able to communicate directly through the gateway.

Who Benefits from VoIP?

VoIP is primarily used by small to medium-sized businesses as the technology offers numerous benefits in the office and telecommunications environment.  It reduces telephony costs tremendously as calls to VoIP-enabled phones are typically free while others are usually reasonably priced.

Another benefit of VoIP is that it allows you to give off favorable impressions to your clients.  For instance, if you have staff members located throughout the UK, you can give them numbers of their own, extensions from the same number, or even a number that has the area code of the office headquarters.  It doesn’t matter what they are located as clients will have no way of distinguishing the central office from a virtual setting.

Although VoIP technology is in high demand for businesses, personal home users are now realizing the tremendous benefits available via VoIP technology. Manufacturers such as Snom, Avaya and Siemens offer extensive lives of VoIP phones in a plethora of price points, ensuring that they can meet most any budgetary needs.

What you Need

To make use of this technology, you will need a VoIP-enabled phone which enables calls without a computer.  This could be an all-in-one-cordless phone or a normal handset plugged into an adapter. A good idea would be investing in a solution that allows you to connect multiple handsets, which gives you the ability to connect various other analogue devices.

You will also need an internet connection, either with DSL or broadband cable.  While a dial-up connection will enable you to make VoIP calls, it is likely to produce a poor sound quality and is therefore not recommended.

Finally, you’ll need a VoIP account with a service provider.  This supplies you with a VoIP phone number which allows other people to call you over the internet.

How Much for VoIP?

Just like local phone service, the cost of VoIP ranges among service providers.  In most cases, VoIP to VoIP calls can be made at no cost while calls to mobile phones and ordinary lines tend to be significantly cheaper than charges from a land line provider.  There are some VoIP providers that offer inclusive packages that come with a fixed monthly fee and unlimited calls.