What is VoIP?
VoIP means making “phone” calls using the Internet to transfer your voice instead of traditional phone cables.
VoIP stands for Voice over Internet Protocol.
In layman’s terms, your Voice is converted to ones and zeros and sent over the Internet to someone else, and vice-versa. (The Protocol part makes up the commonly used term “Internet Protocol”, which means the rules and mechanisms via which data is transmitted over the Internet).
Because there’s only the Internet between you and the person you are talking to, there are often no charges over and above your Internet Service Provider fees. Once your voice is converted to data and put out on the ‘net, the ‘net doesn’t discriminate – it’s all data and so there’s no reason to charge you extra.
The term VoIP can also cover situations where only one end of the call is on the Internet and the other end is on a traditional phone. In this case there are generally charges involved as the traditional phone network has to be used to do this.
Advantages of VoIP over traditional phones
- It’s generally free for pure VoIP calls, and cheap for international calls to traditional phones
- On pure VoIP calls (where no traditional phone is involved), the call can sound a lot “higher-fidelity” than a traditional phone
- Natural tie-in with many PC applications (e.g. contact managers)
- The Internet has no “Quality of service” built in, so on some calls quality can be poor (although generally if you and the callee both have good broadband connections this doesn’t tend to be a problem)
- Messing around with a headset on your PC can be a pain
- Generally can’t be used to make emergency calls
- Sometimes can’t be used to call freecall numbers (e.g. 1800-).