VoIP is an acronym for Voice over Internet Protocol, which, put simply, means a telephone service over the internet.
For those who have a good quality internet connection, it is possible to use VoIP as a phone service delivered through your internet connection rather than through a phone (land) line.
How does VoIP work?
Traditional phone networks use circuit switching, whereby when a call is made, circuits are ‘switched’ in an exchange, creating a connection between the caller and person being called.
With VoIP, traditional analog voice calls are broken down into packets of data. Like any other kind of data, such as an email, the packets travel over the internet and are reassembled at the end of the line.
There are four main VoIP usages:
- Computer to Computer: operated using the likes of an instant messenger (i.e. Skype)
- Computer to Telephone: When the caller uses a headset connected to a computer – often used in call centres
- Telephone to Telephone: Callers can use an adapter connected to an ordinary telephone that connects it to the internet
- IP Phone to Telephone: An IP phone is a phone that is automatically connected to the internet and so does not require an adapter.
Benefits to using VoIP
- Offers significantly cheaper calls than traditional landline services, with a lot of providers offering free international calls
- For businesses it means that you have only one supplier for voice and data, providing greater efficiency, and any computer systems and applications can be linked to help streamline
- VoIP also offers lots of different features, such as voicemail to email transcriptions, call routing and call screening.
Q: How fast does my internet connection have to be?
A: The minimum bandwidth required for VoIP is 88Kbps for both Upload and Download. Business users who might want to use multiple VoIP phone lines will require more bandwidth than residential users, usually worked out by multiplying the amount of VoIP telephone lines by the minimum required for one telephone line, i.e. a business needing 3 telephone lines: 88Kbps x 3 = 264Kbps.
Q: Is the voice quality as good as a traditional telephone?
A: The quality of VoIP has improved since it first came onto the market and is now established as providing the same or exceeding the quality of a traditional telephone line.
Q: What is an ATA device?
A: ATA stands for Analog Telephone Adapter and is a simple device that connects to any standard telephone in order for it to be used through an internet connection. The ATA works by converting the analog signal from your telephone into data that can be transmitted over the internet.
Q: Can I keep my existing telephone number and still use VoIP?
A: In most cases this isn’t an issue at all, but it is dependent on your VoIP provider.