How VoIP Works -- Busting Out
of Long Distance Rates
VoIP is the newest advancement in audio
communications technology, and has a variety of different
applications that make it useful. VoIP stands for Voice over
Internet Protocol, and how VoIP works is actually quite
revolutionary because it streamlines the process of sending analog
audio signals by converting them to a much easier to send digital
form for transmission.
To understand how VoIP works, you’ll need to
understand the basic concept behind regular analog audio
communication as well, since this is the precursor for VoIP. Analog
phone calls are actually made via fiber optic networks by digitizing
your voice communications for sending the signal across thousands of
miles, but once it gets to the final destination (a home or office
phone, for instance), the signal is once again converted to analog.
During these calls,
the switches remain open even while there is dead air and no
conversation is taking place; the circuit is also open in both
directions even when only one party is talking and the other is
listening. This isn’t terribly efficient, and slows down the
communication of information considerably.
Packet switching streamlines VoIP
VoIP works on a different premise -- rather
than circuit switching, data packet switching sends and receives
information only when you need it instead of in a constant stream.
It also sends the information packets along whatever open channels
are available rather than a dedicated line, which is much more
efficient. The information is simply reassembled at the source.
The payload of each packet has a destination
coded into it determining the ultimate destination. When the
computer at the other end receives all of these packets, it will
reassemble the information into useable form. This form of sending
audio data is extremely efficient because it always takes the
cheapest route that is also the least congested.
The compression of information and use of
multiple routes in order to send that information over the most
efficient route makes sending audio over packet switching quicker,
much less expensive and more efficient. The number of calls that can
be sent is orders of magnitude higher than it was with the more
traditional analog circuit switching systems.
For companies, the savings in long distance
charges can be in the hundreds or even thousands of dollars per
year. If companies also make extensive conference calls, VoIP makes
even more sense when combined with conferencing options such as
document sharing in systems offered by companies like Voxwire and
Different types of VoIP calling are
- The most commonly used VoIP system is from one computer to
another. To set up this type of service, you will need to have a
sound card installed in both computers along with microphones and
Internet connections. For practical purposes, you’ll want a
broadband connection or DSL -- a dial-up modem will be so slow the
sound quality just won’t be that good. Aside from that, all you
need is a software package that can set you up with everything you
need to use VoIP to make phone calls to whomever is also set up
with the same system.
- You can also invest in IP phones if you want something that
looks just like your standard analog telephones but with VoIP
connectability. These simply replace the old-style RJ-11
connectors with Ethernet connectors (RJ-45). Hardware such as
routers and the needed software are built right in.
- Analog telephone adaptors (ATA) enable you to connect a
standard telephone to your computer Internet connection in order
to take advantage of VoIP options. ATA converts analog signals to
digital so that it can be transmitted properly via the Internet.
- The newest option on the market is the Wi-Fi phone, which uses
short-distance Internet transmission of VoIP to replace cell
phones calls. Wi-Fi broadcasts over the radio spectrum to cover
short range areas for users in certain areas, and these “hot
spots” have popped up across the U.S.
The upshot of VoIP is that standard
long-distance charges may soon become a thing of the past. As more
and more consumers turn on to VoIP and broadband connections make it
easy and inexpensive (as well as practical) to make phone calls over
the Internet, fewer individuals will be willing to pay high rates to
make a telephone call they can make for free or next to nothing via
VoIP saves you money on long distance
There’s no by-the-minute charges with VoIP, no
set-up fees, and no “time of day” or overages. That’s the great
thing about VoIP plans. You just pay a monthly fee and get to make
all the calls you want over your computer for one monthly fee. It’s
so simple and elegant, and it’s the solution that everyone’s been
wanting and waiting for far too long.
You don’t have to wait for a certain time of
day of day of the week to make telephone calls with VoIP. There’s
also the advantage of being able to use your VoIP connection from
anywhere -- remember, you’re not tied to a phone jack to use your
number, but an Internet connection, so you can call from anywhere
with many calling plans.
Some of the companies that offer excellent
VoIP plans with unlimited calling are listed below with their most
currently offers a $24.95 per month
unlimited VoIP package to anywhere in the U.S. or Canada. It
includes voicemail, call forwarding, three way calling, call
waiting and caller ID.
PhonePower VoIP - can provide unlimited VoIP for $19.95 a
month in the U.S. and Canada with a variety of features like call
waiting and three-way calling, and can also give you video phone
service for about $29.95 per month.
ViaTalk VoIP- provides the usual
U.S. and Canada broadband calling with voicemail, call waiting,
etc. along with email, a call log and a ‘do not disturb’ option,
all for $29.99 a month. You also get to keep your phone number for
life, no matter where you go -- a great feature for some who move
around a lot.
VoIP in web conferencing packages
VoIP is used in almost all web conferencing
services as an alternative to standard conference calls, and looking
into these packages will give you an idea of some ways to combine
VoIP with extras such as white boards, document sharing and video.
For less expensive options, many companies can provide strictly
audio VoIP conference calls combined with text messaging and
document sharing without video.
Some companies that offer VoIP in web
conferencing packages separate from video conferencing are:
Voip.com offers voice communication with
features like auto-queue, mute options, individual speaker
adjustments and moderator controls along with a “follow me” browser
system so that all participants can view a shared desktop. Two
persons can use VoIP for $9.95 a month, or up to ten in a conference
environment for $29.95 per month.
Lingo VoIP provides similar services
with a wide range of options that vary from packages with VoIP
capability for five people at a time on a conference call to up to
500 in one conference call, all for a flat monthly fee. The prices
vary depending upon what package you choose, and there are several.
iVocalize offers VoIP along with
Internet conferencing options like PowerPoint presentation
capabilities and presentation recording for future playback. They
also provide optional Unicode translation in thirteen languages. The
most basic VoIP package begins at $10.00 a month with a prices going
up incrementally depending upon your needs and how many will be
involved in your conference calls.
It is obvious that conference calling as well
as standard long distance calling will be changing greatly in the
near future as VoIP changes the landscape of telephone service.
“Land lines” for long distance calling will eventually become
obsolete as broadband becomes more common and makes VoIP just as
commonplace as any other type of telephone call.
And with the greater portability of soft phone
options built into laptops and the use of ATA phone adapters, the
use of VoIP in the average home will arrive sooner rather than