In the telecommunications industry, Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) refers to a group of technologies that deliver phone calls and multimedia messaging through IP networks. The most commonly used IP networks are the internet via broadband connections and local area networks (LANs) via Ethernet cables.
What are VoIP and Internet Calls?
Internet calls are phone calls that are made with the use of the internet. These internet calls are one of the most commonly known and utilized features of VoIP services. Because of this, some people use the terms VoIP and internet calls interchangeably. However, in addition to internet calls, VoIP services also consist of other features like multimedia messaging, instant messaging, file sharing, and live video calling.
How Do VoIP and Internet Calls Compare to Landline and Cell Phone Calls?
Even though various forms of telecommunication services are available, the most common method is the phone service. Phone calls are typically made via cell phones, landline phones, and VoIP enabled devices. These phoning devices connect two or more people by transmitting the voice of the caller to the receiver, and they do this through slightly different methods:
- Landline Phones: A landline phone connects a caller to a receiver by transmitting the caller’s voice to the receiver via electric energy. When a call is made, the landline converts the caller’s soundwaves into electrical energy and transfers it to the receiver, where it is converted back into soundwaves. The electric energy is transmitted through a series of copper wires and telephone exchanges that route it to the receiver’s phone.
- Cellphones: A cell phone connects a caller to a receiver by transmitting the caller’s soundwaves to the receiver via electric signals and radio waves. Cellphones have built-in antennas that transmit these electric signals by beaming them as radio waves to nearby cell phone masts and base stations. These base stations are responsible for routing the right signals to the receiver’s phone. Cell Phone coverage areas are divided into grids to avoid the beamed electric signals getting scrambled before reaching their destination. A base station is located in each grid, and this base station receives and routes all radio waves from calls made in its assigned grid, thereby reducing the chances of calls getting scrambled.
- VoIP enabled devices: VoIP enabled devices work by converting soundwaves into digital signals. When a VoIP call is made, the VoIP enabled device connects the caller to the receiver by transmitting these digital signals in data packets over the internet. When these data packets get to the receiver’s phone, the digital signals are then reconverted into sound waves that can be heard by the receiver.
VoIP and internet calls have certain advantages that give them an edge when they are compared with cell phone calls and landline calls, which are:
- VoIP and internet calls are not restricted to a specific type of calling device, which makes them more flexible and versatile than cellphone calls and landline calls.
- VoIP and internet calls can be made anywhere that there is an internet connection, unlike landline calls that can only be made where there is a landline phone. Also, cell phone calls can only be made in locations covered by the caller’s service provider.
- VoIP and internet calls sound clearer than landline and cellphone calls.
- VoIP and internet calls are cheaper than landline and cellphone calls. In most cases, these calls can be made free of charge once an internet subscription has been paid for.
- VoIP and internet calls provide users with more options than cell phone calls and landline calls. An example of this is video calling, which is unavailable via landlines and can be done via cell phones for extra fees. However, most VoIP enabled devices can make these types of calls free of any extra charge.
Note that reverse phone lookup services are useful for identifying unknown callers using landline, mobile, and VoIP phone services.
Does Connecticut Regulate VoIP Providers?
On July 1st, 2013, Substitute House Bill No. 6401 took effect in Connecticut. This bill prohibits state government agencies and political divisions from regulating VoIP services in the state. However, this bill makes some exceptions for agencies that have existing authority in certain areas. For example, the Connecticut Public Utilities Regulatory Authority oversees the compliance of VoIP providers with the state’s Emergency Telecommunications Law.
What Do You Need for VoIP and Internet Calls?
To make a VoIP and internet call, you need a VoIP enabled device and a working internet connection. VoIP enabled devices include:
- Computers: With the right software application installed on it, any computer can become a VoIP enabled device. Depending on the type of computer, you may need to connect a headset or a soundcard, a microphone, and speakers before you can properly make VoIP and internet calls.
- IP Phones: IP phones are phones that are made specifically for VoIP and Internet calling services
- Analog Telephone Adapters (ATA): By using an analog telephone adapter, you can connect a regular landline phone to the internet and use it to make VoIP and internet calls
- Softphones: A softphone is a software app that can be installed on a mobile device. When this app is installed, the mobile device can be used to make VoIP and internet calls.
After selecting your preferred VoIP enabled device, the next step is to connect to the internet. A strong internet connection can be gotten via Ethernet cables and modems, Wi-Fi routers, Wi-Fi modems, local area networks, and other high-speed data services.
Once all of these have been set up, then you can start making VoIP and internet calls.
Are VoIP Numbers Different from Regular Phone Numbers?
In the United States, phone numbers are issued according to the North American Numbering Plan. VoIP service providers also have to obtain proper authorization from the Federal Communications Commission before they can issue phone numbers to their customers. Most of these VoIP providers allow their customers to port their old numbers to the VoIP network. Even though a regular phone number can become a VoIP number, these numbers are not the same:
- A regular phone number is usually limited to the landline’s location or cell phone that it is assigned to. VoIP phone numbers do not have this limitation because they are assigned to users instead of devices.
- A regular phone number cannot be used by more than one device at a time, while different devices can use a VoIP phone number simultaneously.
Can You Make Free Internet Calls?
One advantage of VoIP services is that they allow users to make free internet calls. Note that making these free calls require a working internet connection. If an internet connection is available, then you can make free calls by utilizing any of the following methods:
- The App to App Method: This method allows you to make free calls from one mobile device to another as long as both devices have the same VoIP software app installed. Some of the apps used for this method are Zoom, Skype, WhatsApp, and Viber.
- The PC to PC Method: This method allows you to make free internet calls between computers with the same VoIP software program downloaded and installed in them. Some software programs that can be used for this method are Zoom, Google Voice, and Skype.
- The App to Phone Method: This method allows you to make free calls from a VoIP enabled mobile device to a regular phone. The VoIP software has to be installed on your device to utilize this method, but it does not need to be installed on the call receiver’s phone. An example of a software app that can be used for this method is TextNow.
- The PC to Phone Method: This method allows you to make calls from a computer with a VoIP enabling software program installed on it to a regular phone. With this method, the receiver of the call does not need to have a VoIP enabled device. A software program that can be used for this method is Google Voice.