What is voice over internet protocol (VoIP)?
Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) is a technology that allows consumers to make voice calls using a broadband Internet connection rather than the traditional copper wire telephone system. Originally, VoIP services only allowed consumers to call other people using the same service (such as Skype when it was first released), but today most providers allow consumers to call anyone who has a telephone number – including local, long distance, mobile, and international numbers. VoIP services are available for use through a computer or a special VoIP phone, and some services allow consumers to use a traditional phone connected to a VoIP adapter.
How does voice over internet protocol (VoIP) work?
VoIP services convert user voices into digital signals, or packets, and sends them via internet to the desired destination. There exist systems on both ends of the call flow to convert calls from digital signals to analogue, which allows consumers to call and receive calls from any phone. Because VoIP is internet-based, it can be used anywhere there is an internet connection, and therefore is not bound by a singular location.
What Kind of Equipment Do I Need to Use voice over internet protocol (VoIP)?
A high speed Internet (DSL or better) connection is required to make VoIP calls. VoIP calls can be made from a computer, cell phone, or other service that interfaces with these devices. Corporations and enterprise businesses generally tend to prefer dedicated VoIP phones, such as those produced by the company Polycom.
Is there a difference between making a Local Call and a Long Distance Call with VoIP?
Some VoIP providers, such as Skype, offer their service for free, but restrict users to only calling other subscribers of their service. Generally speaking, how services are billed is up to the service provider in question. The acquisition of numbers by providers is a closely regulated affair, and the restrictions imposed on local numbers for land lines has caused issues for VoIP providers in the past. However, recent changes made by the FCC have allowed VoIP providers to have direct numbering access, meaning VoIP providers now have better access to new numbers to give out to their consumers with fewer restrictions on geography.
What are the advantages of voice over internet protocol (VoIP)?
Use of VoIP skyrocketed over the past few years because it is both more cost effective and more versatile than copper wire phones. VoIP phones allow for a more diverse set of features, and can be moved to anywhere there is an internet connection. Starting in 2008, over 80% of all new phones installed in businesses have been VoIP, using a system called a Private Branch Exchange (PBX).
VoIP has drawn criticism for lacking reliability during power outages, raising concerns over 911 and directory calls. This issue has since been resolved by the FCC who issued a report and order in 2015 to require VoIP only services to implement backup systems, thereby allowing VoIP users to be able make emergency calls during an outage. Most of these backup systems use the same wireless networks as cell phones to ensure business continuity.
Does voice over internet protocol (VoIP) offer the same quality of service as a traditional landline?
Another common criticism of VoIP has been the quality of calls made through the internet. At its inception, VoIP was not as reliable as a copper wire phone. Since then, however, network reliability and stability have grown to match traditional phones. There are no strict quality of service requirements for VoIP providers—a stark contrast from copper wire networks—but VoIP providers understand that if they are to compete with major carriers such as AT&T or Verizon, their quality of service had better be good. This has led to a best-effort network in which the participants strive for better quality as a result of competition rather than regulation.
Are voice over internet protocol (VoIP) phones vulnerable to internet viruses and attacks?
Yes. VoIP phones are vulnerable to certain types of internet attacks, particularly DDOS attacks. DDOS attacks are deliberate efforts by a third party to overwhelm a VoIP provider’s network until it no longer functions. These attacks are growing in frequency. It is important when choosing a VoIP provider to ask about what systems are in place to prevent a DDOS attack, and what systems are in place to remedy such an attack. If the answer is unclear, move on to another provider who has such systems in place.