January 25, 2011
Not everybody has heard of making an Internet phone call. Doing so is becoming increasingly popular, and can be far cheaper than traditional land line calls; particularly long distance and international calls. Yes, you can actually use your Internet connection to make cheap telephone calls anywhere in the world, from almost anywhere there is an internet connection. Today we find many Internet phone service providers across the world that provide this service at little or no cost and can help you reduce your phone bills drastically.
Over the last decade, we have seen that the Internet and computer technology have changed the way people live, work and communicate, and an internet phone is one such revolution that has changed the way people can talk to each other.
How does an Internet Phone work?
An Internet Phone uses Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), which converts the voice signal from the telephone to a digital signal. This digital signal travels over the Internet and is converted back at the other end to voice so that you can speak to anyone with a regular phone number. VoIP sends voice information in digital form in discrete packets rather than in the traditional circuit based protocols of the public switched telephone network (PSTN) and helps you use your standard Internet connection to make phone calls worldwide at very low or no cost whatsoever.
How to make a call using the Internet Phone?
To make a call using an Internet Phone, you can subscribe to an Internet Phone Service. Besides this, you need to have a high speed Internet connection in place. Some Internet Phone services allow you to use a regular telephone, as long as you connect it to an adaptor while others allow you to make calls from a computer or a special VoIP phone that doesn’t require an additional adapter.
Depending upon the service that you choose, one way to make a call is to pick up your phone and dial the number, using an adaptor that connects to your Internet connection. Another way is to use a microphone headset plugged into your computer. In this case, the number is dialed using the keyboard and is routed through the cable modem.
In fact your computer need not even be turned on when you are making calls with a phone and adaptor, or special VoIP phone. It’s just that your Internet connection needs to be active. You can even use your computer while you are talking on the phone.
How to choose an Internet Phone Service?
Depending upon the Internet Phone service that you choose, you might be limited only to other subscribers to the service, or you may be able to call any phone number, anywhere in the world. The call may be made to a local number, a mobile phone, a long distance number, or an international number. You can even utilize the service for a conference call (speaking with more than one person at a time).
Different Internet Phone Service providers offer various plans for making calls. Some providers offer their service for free, normally only for calls to other subscribers to the service. While others charge for a long distance call to a number outside your calling area, similar to the existing, traditional telephone service. Still some other providers permit you to call anywhere at a flat rate for a fixed number of minutes.
Before choosing an Internet Service Provider you have to carefully look at what’s being offered and balance it with your needs.
Benefits of using an Internet Phone Service
The biggest benefit of using an Internet Phone is that you can make cheap phone calls while you are using the Internet. Moreover since VoIP is digital, it offers features and services that are not available with a traditional phone. It gives you the flexibility to combine phone calls with business data and offers value added features like integration with software on your computer.
An Internet Phone also provides you with the ability to be mobile as you can take your phone anywhere in the world. Besides this, it provides you access to features like voice mail, caller ID, call conferencing, call forwarding etc.
Also, where traditional PSTN technology is dependent on a point-to-point connection, the Internet Phone utilizes the Internet and its web-like, multi-link network. Therefore if a traditional PSTN circuit phone line is down or cut for some reason, you will be unable to make a call. With Internet Phone service, if a specific link is down, the call will just be routed over one of the many other routing options that the Internet provides to still complete the call. There have been many recent natural and man-made disasters, where Internet Phone Service was the only available and working service – as both PSTN lines and mobile cellular towers were rendered inoperable.
The Flip side … Disadvantages
Despite the numerous advantages that an Internet phone offers, there are some disadvantages to utilizing the service. First, an Internet Phone is dependant on power. Your current phone runs on power that is provided over the line from the central office, so even if your power goes out, your phone connection still works. With an Internet phone, you cannot use your phone service in case there is a power failure.
Additionally, early Internet Phone Service suffered from issues of “delay” which causes the problem of “echo” and “talk overlap.” These initial Internet Phone Service offerings were susceptible to all the problems normally associated with home Internet connections like latency, jitter, and packet loss. Due to all these factors phone conversations can sometimes become distorted, garbled or lost. In the last few years, with the improvements to the Internet backbone, broadband technologies and VoIP protocols and codecs, most of these issues have been corrected.