What is VoIP – Applications and Potential
VoIP or Voice over Internet Protocol is an internet based phone service. This emerging technology has become quite popular in recent times because it helps people save money on their telephone bills.
Unlike a regular phone call that is sent over a traditional telephone line, VoIP uses an internet connection to send and receive telephone calls. However, users are unlikely to notice any difference because they make and receive calls just like they did before.
Advantages of VoIP
The huge popularity of VoIP can be attributed to the fact that it allows you to use a regular internet connection to make free phone calls. You can use one of the free VoIP software programs available online.
In the immediate future, VoIP may change the way telecommunications industry works all over the world. Major telecom carrier AT&T has already started offering VoIP services in several parts of the US. More and more carriers are expected to follow suit in the coming years.
In the near future, this emerging technology may replace traditional phone systems. In this article, we will provide a brief overview of VoIP, its potential for growth, and its applications.
How to make a phone call using VoIP
VoIP allows you to make calls in 3 ways.
ATA (gateway) – This involves using an analog telephone adaptor or ATA. This is also called a gateway. ATAs allow you to use traditional analog phones to make calls. You just need to plug your device into the ATA and connect it to a computer or an internet connection. You are now ready to make and receive VoIP calls.
ATAs can transform the analog signals from your phone and change them into digital signals that can travel over an Internet connection. Some ATAs also come with software that helps you configure them for VoIP.
IP Phones – IP phones don’t look different than regular handsets. However, instead of the RJ 11 connectors that come standard with ordinary handsets, they feature an RJ 45 Ethernet connector. These phones have built-in software and hardware that allow them to use VoIP correctly. They let you make calls by directly connecting to your router.
Computer to computer – Computer to computer VoIP calls are the easiest ones to make. Several companies offer software that enables phone calls between computers. When you use this method, you only need to pay for your internet connection. You don’t normally have to pay for the phone calls. In order to make a computer-to-computer VoIP call, you will need a broadband internet connection, a microphone, speakers, and a sound card.
Applications of VoIP
If you have ever used Skype to make an internet call, you have already used VoIP. Several phone companies also make use of VoIP to route long distance telephone calls. Before long, VoIP will find its way to every household and business across the world.
An advantage of using VoIP is that it allows you to make phone calls from anywhere. You just need to have access to an internet connection. When people travel around the world, they can carry their ATAs or IP phones with them. Some people use softphones to send and receive VoIP calls. A softphone is basically a software application which loads VoIP on to your computer. Some softphone applications even provide an onscreen interface which looks like a regular phone.
While telephone companies normally charge for the extra features they offer, add-ons usually come standard with VoIP services.
When you choose a VoIP service, you will have access to the following features.
- Caller ID
- Call Waiting
- Call Transfer
- Repeat Dialing
- Return Call
- Three-Way Dialing
VoIP service providers may also offer call filtering features. These features allow you to decide how calls to a specific phone number are handled using the caller ID information. For example, when you have call filtering features, you will be able to forward an incoming call to a specific number. You can also send the call to your voicemail. In addition, you can give the caller a ‘busy’ signal or you can play a ‘not-in-service’ message.
VoIP services may also permit you to check voicemail over an internet connection. Service prices can vary greatly and therefore you should check with the provider to know exactly what features are included in the package.
Choosing a VoIP service
Many people are eager to switch to VoIP because of the obvious cost benefits. If you are one among them, you should determine if your existing phone equipment will be compatible with VoIP.
Most VoIP providers claim that they offer every service you need. This may or may not be true. While selecting a VoIP service, you should know what features are provided as standard.
You should also ensure that your fax machines, security systems, and credit card processors are compatible with the VoIP system you choose. Let the service provider know which devices you currently use. This will allow them to suggest a suitable system that meets your requirements.