VoIP service seems like a perfect telephone replacement, especially for anyone who needs to make long-distance and international calls. But many people aren’t quite sure and have questions about what it is, how it works, what equipment they need, and the overall advantages and disadvantages. Read on to find all your answers!
1. How does VoIP work?
Answer: Generally, VoIP works by converting your voice into a digital signal that travels through your broadband internet line. Regardless of whether you’re calling another computer or a telephone, it’s then unscrambled and converted into a voice on the other end.
2. What equipment do I need to use VoIP?
Answer: This depends on the service you use. With a program like Skype installed, all you need is a stable broadband internet connection, a computer (Skype is supported on both Macs and PC’s), and a speaker and microphone (or headphones). Other VoIP services require a special phone and adaptor to take advantage of this telephone service.
Long-distance and international calls are completely free if they’re computer-to-computer, but some internet providers charge fees if you’re calling a telephone, depending on your location and the location you’re calling. These fees are generally much more affordable than traditional telephone long-distance charges, however.
3. What are the advantages and disadvantages of VoIP?
Answer: The biggest advantage of VoIP services is the money you can save by using them! When the other party has the same software installed as you, you can call their computer for free any hour of the day, regardless of their location. Conference calls can be very affordable, if not free, and if the parties have webcam, can even include video. You can share documents in real time and work on them at the same time with some programs. Depending on your service, long-distance fees and international fees may be much lower than for a traditional telephone company. You can save money in an office environment by signing up for a VoIP phone service and having the calls forwarded to each extension.
However great all of these benefits are, VoIP services are not always a complete replacement for regular phone services. When you rely on a program like Skype for all your telephone needs, you might find yourself without access to emergency services if there is a power blackout or you have computer problems. If your computer or internet connection is not running and ready to call, you could waste valuable time in an emergency. Also, the emergency hotline telephone operators cannot see your location and dispatch help like they can with a traditional telephone.
As long as you don’t use VoIP software as a complete replacement to phone service, it can minimize your phone bills and even provide additional services not available through traditional phones. It’s worth a try!
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