Internet Voice, also known as Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), is a technology that allows you to make telephone calls using a broadband Internet connection instead of a regular (or analog) phone line. Some services using VoIP may only allow you to call other people using the same service, but others may allow you to call anyone who has a telephone number - including local, long distance, mobile, and international numbers. Also, while some services only work over your computer or a special VoIP phone, other services allow you to use a traditional phone through an adaptor.
What is VoIP/Internet Voice?
VoIP allows you to make telephone calls using a computer network, over a data network like the Internet. VoIP converts the voice signal from your telephone into a digital signal that travels over the internet then converts it back at the other end so you can speak to anyone with a regular phone number. When placing a VoIP call using a phone with an adapter, you'll hear a dial tone and dial just as you always have. VoIP may also allow you to make a call directly from a computer using a conventional telephone or a microphone.
How Can I Place a VoIP Call?
Depending on the service, one way to place a VoIP call is to pick up your phone and dial the number, using an adaptor that connects to your existing high-speed Internet connection. The call goes through your local telephone company to a VoIP provider. The phone call goes over the Internet to the called party's local telephone company for the completion of the call. Another way is to utilize a microphone headset plugged into your computer. The number is placed using the keyboard and is routed through your cable modem.
What Kind of Equipment Do I Need?
A broadband (high speed Internet) connection is required. This can be through a cable modem, or high speed services such as DSL or a local area network. You can hook up an inexpensive microphone to your computer and send your voice through a cable modem or connect a phone directly to a telephone adaptor.
Is there a difference between making a Local Call and a Long Distance Call?
Some VoIP providers offer their services for free, normally only for calls to other subscribers to the service. Your VoIP provider may permit you to select an area code different from the area in which you live. This means you may not incur long distance charges if you call a number in your area code regardless of geography. It also means that people who call you may incur long distance charges depending on their area code and service.
Some VoIP providers charge for a long distance call to a number outside your calling area, similar to existing, traditional wireline telephone service. Other VoIP providers permit you to call anywhere at a flat rate for a fixed number of minutes.
If I have VoIP service, who can I call?
Depending upon your service, you might be limited only to other subscribers to the service, or you may be able to call any phone number, anywhere in the world. The call can be made to a local number, a mobile phone, to a long distance number, or an international number. You may even utilize the service to speak with more than one person at a time. The person you are calling does not need any special equipment, just a phone.