VOIP: Can It Save You Money
Even though VoIP, which stands for Voice over Internet Protocol, has been around for over a decade now, many people are still confused over what it is, how it works and if it can really save you money over a traditional landline or cell phone.
Many ISPs – Internet Service Providers – like Verizon and Comcast to name two of the most common and popular in the United States, have VoIP bundled into their TV and Internet services using cable or FiOS (Fiber Optic System) systems. Cable and FiOS don't require an existing landline so you will save money by taking advantage of the companies' VoIP offerings.
But you should always do some price comparisons first. For example, if the cost of your ISP's VoIP costs more than going with a company like Vonage or a device like MagicJack, you may spend more than you need to, but still not as much as paying for a traditional landline and then adding your Internet and/or television service fees on top. Let's look at the top seven questions people may still have about VoIP.
1 - What exactly is VoIP?
VoIP actually uses your Internet connection as a phone line by converting your voice into data to transmit it through a data line instead of a voice line. The quality and clarity of phone calls using VoIP is normally a lot clearer, unless you have static on your cable or FiOS lines.
The weather may also interfere with the quality of phone calls too, but that even happens on a regular landline phone or cell phone.
2 - Do I Need to Have Internet Service for VoIP?
Yes, you do. Because the system uses the Internet, thus its name, you must have broadband Internet service, but not dial-up or a system that already uses a landline phone system for Internet access.
Most of the popular Internet providers use cable or FiOS now anyway. Only rarely will an ISP require a telephone landline, and it probably won't be broadband service either.
3 - How Do I Make a Phone Call with VoIP?
Once your telephone is connected through your Internet modem, you just pick up your phone and call like you would ordinarily. Some VoIP systems provide what's called a "soft phone," which is software that you upload or download onto your computer.
MagicJack (MJ) is one of the easiest VoIP systems to set up. You plug their device into the USB port of your computer and plug your phone into the MJ port. The device automatically installs "softphone" software on your computer so you can dial out from your computer using either a telephone or your headset and microphone. If you have a fax machine, you can even use your VoIP line to send and receive faxes too!
4 - Will Using My Computer Interfere With Making a VoIP Call?
If you're old enough to remember dial-up Internet service, you'll remember that every time you went on the Internet, no one else could use the telephone or it would disconnect you from the 'net.
That's no longer a problem with cable or FiOS broadband Internet and VoIP service. They don't interfere with each other, so you can have multiple people using your Internet, if you have WiFi, while being on the phone using VoIP.
5 - Does the Person I'm Calling Have to Have VoIP Too?
No. You can call any regular phone or cell phone from your VoIP phone. Some providers allow conference calls too, so it's even advantage for businesses to use VoIP.
Some providers will give you a discount on long-distance rates if the person you're calling is using the same VoIP provider, so that's a great advantage and something to look into when comparing providers.
6 - Can I Make Long-Distance Calls?
Yes! In fact, most VoIP providers allow free unlimited long-distance calls – calls outside of your own area code – within the country you reside. So, it's just the same as making a local phone call. Some fees may apply if you call outside of your home country, though.
7 - Can VoIP Really Save Money?
Yes, it can. You won't have all of the taxes and usage fees, long distance fees, and all of the other fees associated with a typical landline.
Obviously, you want to compare prices between different VoIP service providers and see how much you'll save by switching. Some providers, like Vonage for example, have contract fees and monthly fees, yet it's still a lot less expensive than a traditional landline.
By comparison, with MagicJack, you pay for the device and that pays for a whole year's service. After that, it's only a once per year payment, which is usually the same cost as initially buying the device.
Switching from a traditional landline to VoIP really does make sense and will save you a good deal of money. When you're at home, you can also use VoIP to save minutes on your cell phone usage. If you've been thinking about adding a second phone line to your home or office so you have a second phone number or a separate fax line, getting VoIP will really save you a lot over all of the costs of installing and paying for a second phone line.