The way we make phone calls is changing. In fact in many circumstances things
have already changed. Take long distance calls for instance, many service
providers are already using a technology called Voice Over IP or VOIP for short.
If you have never heard of VOIP before, then the following article will change
the way you think about how long distance phone calls are being made now, and
about how all phone calls will be made in the future. Voice Over IP (VOIP) is a
method for turning analogue audio signals into digital data that can be
transferred over the internet.
You may be asking yourself how this is useful. Well think about it for a few
seconds. If it is possible to turn analogue signals into digital data, then VOIP
can turn a standard internet connection into a method for placing phone calls
anywhere in the world virtually free, except for your internet service fee,
enabling you to bypass the phone companies entirely.
Voice Over IP (VOIP) has the potential to completely revolutionise the way
the worlds phone systems operate. There are many VOIP service providers that
have been around for a while, and are growing steadily. Now the worlds leading
telecommunications operators are waking up to the endless possibilities of this
new technology, setting up VOIP calling centres around the world and promoting
the sales of Voice Over IP phone systems.
Making a call
With VOIP phones it is possible to make a call in one of three
ATA (gateway) - The simplest way to make a VOIP phone call is through
the use of ATA's (analogue telephone adaptor) sometimes called gateways. These
devices enable you to make use of your existing standard analogue phones. You
simply plug your standard handset into the ATA (gateway) then connect the ATA to
your computer or your internet connection, enabling you to make VOIP calls. An
ATA takes the analogue signal from your standard phone and turns it into a
digital signal that ready for transmission over the internet. Some ATA's
(gateways) come with additional software that is loaded onto a host computer,
enabling you to configure it for VOIP accurately.
IP Phones - These handsets look just like normal standard handsets.
They have an RJ 45 Ethernet connector instead of the standard RJ 11 connectors.
These phones have all the necessary software and hardware to handle VOIP calls
already built in them. They connect directly to your router, providing a very
fast and cost effective entry into the world of Voice Over IP.
Computer to computer - This is the easiest way to make use of the VOIP
technology. There are many companies offering cost effective software that you
can use for this type of VOIP. Usually the only charge you pay is the monthly
one from your internet service provider, even for long distance calls. All you
need is a microphone, speakers, a suitable sound card and a fast internet
Chances are that you have already made a VOIP call without even realising it.
The major phone companies already use VOIP to route thousands of long distance
calls through a circuit switch and into an IP gateway. This is then received by
a gateway at the other end and then routed to another local circuit switch. More
and more companies are installing VOIP broadband phones, and the technology will
grow and grow until it finds its way into every business and household across
Choosing a VOIP Phone
If you have decided that a VOIP broadband phone is the right step for your
company, next you need to determine which of your existing telephone equipment
you are able to keep. The potential cost savings that can be made through using
any existing digital equipment are huge. Many digital phone systems can be IP
enabled using minor hardware additions and software upgrades.
When shopping around for potential systems you need to be certain of the
features they provide as standard and which are optional cost extras. You also
need to be certain of exactly what is included with the system. Many suppliers
claim to include everything you need, but standard components can vary from one
company to the other. So you need to sure you are comparing equivalent systems
when approaching potential suppliers.
You will also need to enquire about the compatibility of existing equipment.
The technology used in many VOIP systems may affect the implementation of any
existing telephone hardware.
You will also need to ensure that any devices such as fax machines, credit
card processors, and security systems etc can be integrated into your new VOIP
phone system. You should make any potential vendor aware of such devices so they
can provide you with a suitable phone system for your requirements.
Finally, do not try to save money by buying used VOIP broadband phones. Remember
VOIP is a new technology, so even last years equipment is outdated. Also the
installation cost will still apply whether the system is new or second hand, and
the service costs may even be higher due to reliability issues. To put it simply
it just isn't worth the hassle, the higher secondary costs will wipe out any