What is VoIP?

What if you could save hundreds of dollars on your phone bill each year? Depending on your calling habits, you can—just by switching to VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol). Not only will you get unlimited calling, you can avoid many of the taxes and fees that add up when you use traditional phone service. Plus, a lot of the most popular calling features are also available with VoIP, including caller ID, call waiting, voice mail and more. The Federal Communications Commission defines VoIP as a "technology that allows you to make telephone calls using a broadband Internet connection instead of a regular (or analog) phone line."

But what exactly is VoIP and how will having a VoIP company as your provider affect your phone service?

According to VoIPreview, one of the market leaders in the VoIP search business, the concept for VoIP originated in the mid '90s, when people began to recognize the possibility of sending data packets over the Internet to communicate. Early versions of VoIP could only be used between people who had the same software on their computers, a compatible sound card and a microphone. However, the sound quality that customers got with early VoIP was not very good. Despite these inconveniences, people reveled in the fact that they could make long distance phone calls without the paying the higher prices charged by most long distance providers.

The good news for you is that VoIP call quality has increased significantly since these early days. Now, people are switching to VoIP without even realizing it. Most cable companies who offer this technology for their phone service market it as digital telephone service.

Another positive advancement in VoIP service is its security features. When VoIP first gained popularity, many companies lacked the ability to provide 911 services with their service. Now most VoIP providers have E911 features that allow customers to call for help just as easily as with traditional 911 calls. Another security-type issue that was a problem with early VoIP service was that if the electricity went out, customers would lose their phone connections. VoIP providers are now more adept at finding ways to prolong their phone service when the power goes out. For example, Time Warner Cable has been giving out phones with battery back-up for the past year, which gives the phone an additional four hours of power. However, if an amplifier mounted on a telephone pole is knocked out, a VoIP phone will not be able to transmit phone calls even if it has a battery back-up.

But before you decide that VoIP is right for you, it is important to remember that VoIP service requires a high-speed Internet connection. If you don't currently have Internet service, it can cost between $15 to $80 a month for high-speed Internet service alone, depending on the provider. If you already have high-speed Internet or are interested in having it in addition to VoIP service, it is cost-effective to order VoIP or digital phone service from the same provider. Most cable or phone companies that offer both digital phone and high-speed Internet offer discounts for customers who order the two services together. If your high-speed Internet provider doesn't offer a VoIP option, you can still save by choosing VoIP service from an independent phone provider.

Now that you know a little more about VoIP, you can enter your address to see what providers offer service in your area.

The WhiteFence Blog