Instead of making calls through regular telephone lines, you place calls through a phone connected to your broadband service (e.g. cable or DSL). You can read about more VoIP technology here.
Most people use VoIP save on the expense of having a POTS (plain old telephone service) and to save on long distance charges.
Companies in the US, such as Vonage, VoicePulse, and Packet8, offer unlimited calling to the US, and sometimes to Canada or to selected countries in Europe or Asia, for a flat monthly fee. Vonage is top rated by PC World and CNet.com. CNet’s editor Neil Randall says Vonage’s voice quality was so good that it’s a suitable replacement for a primary phone line.
Others reviewers were more impressed by the quality of VoicePulse. For example, Garry Peterson from Bright Green Living recommends VoicePulse over Vonage, because of better customer support and the fact that Vonage equipment cannot be used with other VoIP providers.
Some of the potential disadvantages of VoIP are:
- Dependent on Electrical Power and Broadband Connection. Unless you have your phone on an UPS, or are off-grid, your phone will not work when there is a power outage. This is also true if your broadband service is interrupted.
- 911 Service. Your VoIP provider may or may not have 911 service.
- Voice Quality: Your may be unimpressed by the clarity of VOIP phone connection.
Skype is an example of a software-based VoIP service that allows users to make calls through their computers to those with regular phones. Two potential annoyances with this kind of approach is that you have have you PC turned on to make or receive calls, and sound quality is improving but is not as high as hardware-based VoIP according to reviewers.
Some reviewers also point out that using discount calling cards to make long distance calls may be as inexpensive as using VoIP.
Another VoIP technology which is gaining popularity is Wi-Fi telephony. Wi-Fi phones are similar to cell phones, but allow you make calls from any free Wi-Fi location — including your home, college campus or public hotspot. Two manufacturers of Wi-Fi phones are: Net2Phone and PulverInnovations.