With all the buzz about VoIP, you may be wondering exactly what it is and should you be excited about it. VoIP stands for Voice over Internet Protocol. Several providers are offering this new service; this is a new way to use your broadband connection to make telephone calls. You can keep your existing phone and use it the same way you normally do, the difference is that instead of connecting through your phone company, you connect directly through your broadband internet connection.
In order to take advantage of VoIP, you will be required to purchase a modem box, most providers offer these free with a minimum commitment or they may also be purchased at your local electronic store. During promotions, these modems may be free or close to free after rebates. This modem box connects directly to your cable or DSL modem and your existing phone. That is all that is required, no special wiring or technical installation. If you can plug in a lamp, chances are you can set up VoIP for your home.
Monthly plans vary but you can generally expect to spend between $15.00-$25.00 depending on the provider and added services you choose. Plans offer many features that until now, you had to pay extra for on your traditional phone. Caller ID, Call Waiting, Call Forwarding, Voice Mail and 3 Way Calling are just some of the features that are included in your monthly fee. You are not limited to the number of minutes or areas you can call either. Some companies are even beginning to include calls to Canada and some European countries as well. Online management of your features and account details is also a convenient feature.
One other remarkable feature that VoIP offers is a virtual phone number. As a subscriber, you can choose the area code of your number. This means that if you spend your winters in sunny Florida but live the rest of the year in Maine, you can choose a local Maine number and just take your VoIP modem with you and hook it up at your winter home in Florida. Family and friends will call you on your local Maine number and you can get the calls in Florida. This feature can not only save the need for two separate phones, but also allow you the convenience of only having to remember one home phone number year round.
There are a few things to be aware of when using VoIP. Since the phone modem is plugged in and tied into your cable system, if the cable goes out or you loose power, you will also loose your phone service. There are Universal Power Supplies that can be purchased to run your equipment for a limited amount of time in the event of a power outage. Also 911 services may or may not be available depending on the provider you choose. Many providers are now able to offer this, but always check with the VoIP provider you are considering to be sure, if this is a concern for you.
Call quality is dependent on your broadband connection and in most cases comparable or better than traditional phone lines. Most people you speak to, will not even realize that you are using VoIP until you tell them. After they hear about the benefits, they may want to switch their traditional phone as well. VoIP is truly the telephone of the future.