My how things have changed since the Ma and Pop Bells; the telephone mega monopolies of the 90s and back. As technology has emerged, telephone service has taken giant steps into affordability, diversity and variety. It started with cellular phones and with the advent of the Internet and has progressed to Internet Phone Service.
In layman's terms, Internet Phone Service is used to describe an event that involves making and receiving telephone calls through your computer and Internet connection. You mean I can do that? Definitely, "YES!" You may see or hear any of the below terms used to identify this service:
PC to PC Calls
Voice over broadband
Voice Over IP
Whichever term is used, it boils down to this; it's the wave of the future!
What Type of Equipment Does Internet Phone Service Require?
You're going to need, a computer, a high-speed Internet connection and normally some type of a VOIP adapter, specialized VOIP phone or PC to PC software. The high speed Internet Connection will need to be either a broadband or DSL connection. However, you'll receive better service with the cable modem versus using a DSL modem. It has to do with the bandwidth.
Generally speaking, most consumers with DSL opt for the least expensive priced offer, which is slower than the least expensive cable modem speed. If you have a dial up connection, you can pretty much forget using Internet phone service; there simply isn't enough bandwidth with the modems rated at 56k. Once you have the high speed Internet, depending on the Internet Phone Service provider you choose, you'll either need their proprietary equipment or software.
If you use the PC to PC service, all you'll need are the provider's software and an inexpensive headset with a microphone. If you use a service that provides a VOIP adapter, you'll connect that adapter to your modem or router and it will provide dial tone. You can even back feed that dial tone to the rest of your house which affords you the capability to operate like a traditional telephone.
How Does a Person Choose an Internet Telephone Service?
It's just a matter of answering a few questions to determine which Internet phone service best suits your specific needs.
(1). Do You Require 911 Emergency Telephone Services?
It is important to note that certain Internet phone service providers do not have the capability to properly access the emergency call system. In other words if you dialed 911 through that software or equipment, your call wouldn't be routed to the appropriate public safety jurisdiction. If this will be your primary line, make sure you confirm that your service provider whether you can dial emergency calls or not. Services such as Skype can't be used for emergency calling.
(2). Do You Have a Home Alarm System?
If you have a home alarm system, you'll better off with one of the Internet phone service providers that generate dial tone, which can be back feed to your alarm system. The question you want to ask the provider is, "Is your service compatible with my alarm system?" Normally, if the dial tone is coming off the adapter or other VOIP equipment, the answer is going to be, "Yes!"
Once the equipment is installed and the phone line is properly back fed, you will want to contact your alarm company and inform them that you'll be performing an alarm test. If the mock alarm test passes, of course you're good to go. If not, you probably didn't back feed the line properly.
(3). Will This Be Your Primary Home Phone?
If this is going to be your primary home phone, then you'll want to choose a proven Internet service provider. The easiest way to do that is perform a review check. Find out what other users are saying about the providers they use and the ones they tried ans were disappointed with. Then check the Better Business Bureau, the RipOffReport.com and the Consumeraffairs.com to see if the company has any unresolved complaints.
As with any product or industry there is always a group of people who produce inferior products and services and outright scams; the Internet phone service industry is no different. By doing your homework before making a commitment, you avoid any potential issues with low grade and/or unscrupulous providers.
How Much Can I Save With Internet Phone Service?
Compared to regular POTS Plain Old Telephone Service, you will save a bundle! If you go with the PC to PC phone service, the average pricing for unlimited phone calls to the United States, Canada and some European countries, is around $40 per year. That comes to a measly $3.50 per month! There are even some services that allow you to download the software for free and make PC to PC calls for free.
If you go with one of the VOIP providers that provides dial tone, you'll end up with all of the major features for around $19.00 to $25.00 per month. Features such as: Voice mail, caller ID, call waiting, call forwarding and 3-way calling. If you requested all of those features with a regular telephone service provider, they would cost you extra. You would easily end up adding an additional $30 to $50 per month to your already high bill.
In summation, if you make a lot of long distance calls and require most or all of the extra features, you'll easily save around 80% by going with Internet Phone Service.