Using the internet to make telephone calls
About Internet calls
Using the internet to make telephone calls can be a cheaper way of keeping in touch. This is called Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) or Internet Telephony.
In the past the slow speed of dial up internet connections slowed the development of VoIP, but with more and more people signing on to the internet with high speed connections such as broadband, the call quality has vastly improved.
How it works
VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) works by taking analogue audio signals, like the kind you hear when you talk on the phone, and turning them into digital data that can be transmitted over the Internet.
There are 3 common ways of making calls over the internet
ATA (Analogue telephone adapter) - This is the simplest and most common way. The ATA allows you to connect a standard phone to your computer or your Internet connection for use with VoIP.
IP Phones - These are specialised phones. They look just like normal phones with a handset and buttons, but instead of having the standard phone connectors, IP phones have an ethernet connector. IP phones connect directly to your router and have all the hardware and software necessary to handle the call.
Computer-to-computer - This is the easiest way to use VoIP. You don't even have to pay for long-distance calls. There are several companies offering free or very low-cost software that you can use for this type of VoIP. All you need is the software, a microphone, speakers, a sound card and a fast Internet connection like broadband.
VoIP use the internet to transfer information. We are used to this being images and text which we would view over a computer screen, but it can easily be voice.
The main benefit is cost. VoIP is much cheaper that using the traditional telephone system. For those who have friends and family abroad and use the telephone a lot this is a big incentive.
Everybody loves free stuff and VoIP can offer other features for free, features that typically cost extra with normal phones. These features include voice mail, call forwarding, call waiting, caller ID, call block, call return and do not disturb.
What you need
A definite requirement to make VoIP calls is an internet connection such as broadband. This connects your computer to a socket point that is similar to a traditional phone line.
You don't actually need to have a computer to make VOIP calls. You can buy special telephones that plug into the internet socket point or router. These telephones are similar to normal phones and can either be static or cordless.
An alternative to a telephone handset is a microphone and headset. These can be useful if you have a habit of cradling a telephone handset between your head and shoulder.
There are 3 main types of handset you can buy
A USB phone - this plugs directly into your computer
A Dual phone - these can be used for VOIP calls and traditional landline calls
An Adapter - you would plug this directly into your normal telephone
there are to basic call plan styles for VoIP, they are
Pay as you go - your charge is based on the calls you make
Call plan - a set monthly fee.
There are many companies that provide VoIP some include:
It is advised that you research different providers to see which one provides the best deal to suit your needs.
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