VoIP is one of those techy terms that stands for Voice over Internet Protocol. What it means simply is that instead of using your phone line to make calls, you use the Internet to make calls instead.
Also referred to as Internet Calling, IP telephony, and Voice over IP, VoIP can be a very inexpensive or even free alternative to traditional landline phones.
How Do Telephones Work?
Did you know that traditional phone service is referred to as POTS or plain old telephone service? POTS is an analog service that uses circuit switching to provide telephone service, but this has limitations.
One of the disadvantages of POTS is its limited pathways. When a line goes down, there isn’t a way to get calls through. On the other hand, VoIP has multiple pathways to keep messages traveling to their destination.
How Does VoIP Work?
Voice over IP uses the same protocol as the Internet to provide service; packets. Packets are simply electronic envelopes that store digital data and send them across the Internet to their destination.
As they travel across the network, packets have multiple pathways to choose from, so if one path is down, the packet can switch to another one. This process is called packet-switching.
VoIP adds voice signals to packets, along with the network addresses of the caller and receiver, and packet-switches them to their destination quickly and efficiently.
Advantages to VoIP
Interoperable and Portable
Since VoIP works with computers and computer networks, it makes your phone service interoperable and portable.
An interoperable service is one that works well on many different networks, while portable means they work well with many different devices, as long the device is IP-enabled. Basically, any device with web or computer network access is IP-enabled.
VoIP Works With Handset Phones Too
Still need a desk or handset phone? You can use Voice over IP technology with IP phones that connect to the network. These phones look and work much like typical desk phones, only with additional features.
Don’t want to invest in new hardware? Just add an adaptor to analog phones to make them VoIP compatible. They won’t have all the features of a true VoIP phone, but they will allow you to take advantage of VoIP technology without additional costs.
There are some completely free applications of Voice Over IP, like Skype, Google Hangouts, and FaceTime. These programs, however, require all parties to be communicating in the same app.
Other applications, like calling a landline from a VoIP number can incur costs. The good news is that the costs are typically lower than POTS plans, especially for International calls.
If you can make all your calls with VoIP, you may not need your landline phone service. If you contact Choice Broadband we can see what the minimum service is that you need to keep your Internet connection working.
Disadvantages of Voice over IP
Dependent on the Reliability of Internet
The quality of Voice over IP calls is determined by the quality of the Internet connection. A poor internet connection will lead to difficult, garbled conversations or calls that are impossible to understand at all. And without an Internet connection, VoIP won’t work at all.
We touched on this in the previous section, but while voice quality is dependent on the quality of your Internet connection, it is also dependent on other factors. Things like the quality of your hardware, service provider, and the recipient’s connection can all impact voice quality.
Voice quality has definitely improved since Voice over IP was first introduced. However, some users still experience echoes, delays, and other undesirable sounds during conversations.
Considering the high quality we typically experience with traditional landlines, even small hesitations and glitches in VoIP conversations can be noticeable.
You’re Sharing Bandwidth
If you are deploying VoIP in a business or corporate setting, you are probably sharing that Internet connection with multiple applications and users. Email, downloads, chats, and website surfing for several users may all be competing with the bandwidth for your calls.
Since poor quality calls are bad for business, you may need to update network equipment and ensure your Internet connection can support the bandwidth you need before you deploy a Voice over IP solution.
As with all Internet based technologies, security is a concern with VoIP. Identity theft, malware, viruses, spamming, phishing, and denial of service attacks are all potential security threats when using VoIP.
Just like other computer systems, there are ways to help keep your VoIP system secure. A few suggestions are:
- When using handset or desk VoIP phones, make sure to keep firmware up to date
- Mobile devices should not be used on open, unprotected networks
- Businesses can maintain and review phone logs for suspicious activity
- Know and practice good password habits with mobile phones to keep them secure
- Maintain the ability to wipe data from lost or stolen devices
If you’d like to find out more about VOIP and how Choice can help you click here