Making Telephone calls over the internet is called Voice over IP (VoIP) and was developed in order to provide access to voice communication in any place around the world. In most places, voice communication is quite costly. Consider making a phone call to a person living in a country half the globe away. The first thing you think of in this case is your phone bill! VoIP solves this problem and many others.
There are of course a few drawbacks attached to the use of VoIP, as is the case with any new technology, but the advantages largely outbalance these. Let's explore below the benefits of VoIP and see how it can improve your home or business voice communication.
If you don't use VoIP for voice communication, then you are most certainly using the good old phone line (PSTN - Packet -Switched Telephone Network). On a PSTN line, time is really money. You actually pay for each minute you spend communicating on the phone. International calls are much more expensive. Since VoIP uses the Internet as backbone, the only cost you have when using it is the monthly Internet bill to your ISP. Of course you need broadband Internet access, like ADSL, with a decent speed. In fact, unlimited 24/7 ADSL Internet service is what most people use today, and this causes your monthly cost to be of a fixed amount. You can speak as much as you wish on VoIP and the connection cost will still be the same. Studies have shown that, compared to using a PSTN line, using VoIP can potentially make you save up to 40% on local calls, and up to 90% on international calls.
More than two persons
On the phone line, only two persons can speak at a time. With VoIP, you can setup a conference with a whole team communicating in real time. VoIP compresses data packets during transmission, and this causes more data to be handled over the carrier. As a result, more calls can be handled on one access line.
Cheap user hardware and software
If you are an Internet user wishing to use VoIP for voice communication, the only additional hardware you require besides your computer and Internet connection are a sound card, speakers and a microphone. These are quite cheap. There exist several software packages downloadable from the Internet, which you can install and use for the purpose. Examples of such applications are the well-known Skype and Net2Phone. You do not actually need a telephone set, which can be quite expensive, along with the underlying equipment, especially when you have a phone network.
Abundant, Interesting and Useful Features
Using VoIP also means benefitting from its abundant features which can make your VoIP experience very rich and sophisticated, both personally and for your business. You are thus better equipped for call management. You can, for example, make calls anywhere in the world to any destination in the world with your VoIP account. Features also include Caller ID, Contact Lists, Voicemail, extra-virtual numbers etc.
Fax over IP
The problems of fax services using PSTN are high cost for long distances, quality attenuation in the analog signals and incompatibility between communicating machines. Real-time fax transmission on VoIP simply uses a fax interface to convert the data into packets and ensures complete delivery of the data in a very reliable way. With VoIP, there is finally not even the need for a fax machine for sending and receiving fax.