VoIP - What's it all about?

Published: 23 February 2010

What is VoIP?

VoIP, or Voice over Internet Protocol, technology enables telephone calls to be made using a broadband connection instead of an analogue phone line. There are presently a large range of VoIP service providers that offer various packages and tariffs (most are free) that include one local phone number (where applicable) or a 0845 or 0870 number depending on individual business requirements. As part of the free package and phone number deals currently on offer, the necessary software to install the VoIP system is also provided by most VoIP providers at no additional charge. Once the software has been configured it is then possible to make and receive telephone calls through a dedicated PC with a broadband connection with the use of a microphone or a normal telephone (which will need a VoIP adaptor that are readily available or a VoIP phone which has the adaptor already built in).

So can VoIP save you money?

Yes, the main advantages of using VoIP is that it removes the need for most businesses to install additional phone lines which can prove to be very costly, and where a business has more than one office the benefits increase even further as calls between VoIP accounts are totally free. The benefits of VoIP become even more apparent where businesses are making regular calls to various locations around the world as the free calls are not restricted to geographical location.

Can outgoing calls be made using VoIP and how much will it cost?

Yes, it is possible to make outgoing calls using VoIP and calls between one VoIP user and another (where compatible) are totally free. Most VoIP providers also provide monthly call packages that include "minutes" to non VoIP numbers and mobile numbers. How these minutes are allocated will depend on the VoIP provider and the terms of the selected plan. Some VoIP providers offer advanced call management features with their free account service such as a log of all incoming calls, call forwarding, voice mail etc.

What is the difference between VoIP and Skype?

Skype is a form of VoIP, it uses proprietary protocols and as such calling is restricted to other Skype phones unless the Skype "out" service is used (which will incur a fee).

More Information*

Sipgate: http://www.sipgate.co.uk/

Skype: http://www.skype.com/

(* There are many VoIP service providers, the above links are examples only).

- Seran Bond

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