Voice Over IP and Options

This document is designed to help you understand a bit about Voice Over IP (Internet telephone service), but only covers a few providers and options. It is not a review of all providers (there are hundreds). I do not sell any of this equipment nor services, rather offer this information to help those who are interested.

VOIP (Voice Over IP) uses the Internet to place and receive telephone calls. These calls are generally much cheaper than traditional telephone company calls and may in fact be free. Also, VOIP companies and/or hardware may offer you items such as voice mail and 3-way calling for free.

A fast Internet connection (DSL, CABLE, etc) is required and a router is suggested so that you can also have a PC and whatever else you want running along with the VOIP service. There are websites which can test your connection and tell you whether VOIP will work well for you. I’ll post a link to a site or two below. Also, voice quality may be better than your traditional telephone line. There are changes you may be able to make to improve voice quality at an increase in bandwidth.

Generally a web browser accesses the VOIP “telephone company” website to set or change your plan or options. Then you use either a web-enabled device (similar to Skype or PBX software), a physical adapter that attaches to a regular telephone or Internet accessible telephone device (IP telephone) to make and receive calls.

You should note that some services such as Fax, alarm companies, elderly alert systems and satellite reporting systems may have some issues and you should investigate and/or test these before completely eliminating your existing systems. There may be forums for the particular service or equipment you are considering which will help answer compatibility concerns.

Also, some telephone and Internet providers may offer a VOIP solution and not call it such. The cost may be  $20 a month or more for telephone service.

— Mark Shultise – 2014