What is VoIP? Common VoIP Questions & Answers

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Not sure if you should switch to VoIP phone service and save money on your home phone bill? Maybe you are holding back because of negative stories you have heard about VoIP in the past? If saving money is important to you, you should take a second look at VoIP phone service because its equipment and service has improved drastically over the years. Another good news is that high-speed Internet is more accessible now and that means better VoIP phone performance and call quality.

Our VoIP phone FAQ below is designed to answer common questions about VoIP phone service. Hopefully this FAQ and our VoIP phone checklist will help you decide if VoIP phone service is right for you.

 

What does VoIP stand for?

Voice over Internet Protocol.

What is VoIP?

VoIP technology allows you to make and receive phone calls using high-speed Internet.

How is VoIP phone service different from a regular landline telephone?

Instead of the traditional phone network, Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN), VoIP technology converts your voice into data packets and transmits them over the Internet.

What are the advantages using VoIP phone service?

  • VoIP is cheap (some even free)
  • VoIP comes with many call features (our local phone company offers ONE feature and charges for the rest, which is pretty amazing)
  • VoIP can be used while travelling

What are the disadvantages of using VoIP phone service?

  • It doesn’t work during a power outage
  • It doesn’t work during a network outage
  • Call quality is dependent on your Internet connection
  • Security could be compromised

What do I need to use VoIP phone service?

You need high-speed Internet connection; sign up with a VoIP phone provider plus any of the following:

  • VoIP phone device and a standard telephone.
  • VoIP Adapter (ATA) and a standard telephone.
  • IP Telephone.
  • Softphone (PC required).
  • Mobile app (Smartphone or tablet is needed)

How do I make and receive calls using VoIP phone service?

  • If using a VoIP device or ATA with a standard telephone or IP Telephone, you just pick up the handset to make or receive calls like a regular telephone.
  • If using a Softphone, you need to open the Softphone program in your PC to make calls.  To receive calls, you need to make sure your PC is on, Softphone program is running and the speaker volume is on to hear incoming calls.

What is the minimum Internet connection speed to use VoIP phone service?

One VoIP phone provider states high-speed Internet connection needs to have at least 384 kbps upstream and downstream.

How is the call quality of VoIP phone service?

VoIP call quality can rival traditional landline quality.  However, it is only as good as your Internet connection, network router, VoIP equipment and VoIP phone provider’s network.  The main issue that usually affects the call quality is your Internet connection.  Depending on your Internet speed and usage, you will likely experience bad call quality if your Internet connection is strained. (E.g. running programs that eats up majority of your Internet bandwidth such as heavy downloading/uploading.)

How reliable is VoIP? 

VoIP phone service is reliable when there is no outage from your Internet service provider or VoIP phone provider’s network.  Therefore, we highly recommend researching different VoIP phone providers online and read customer reviews about their VoIP service reliability.

How secure is VoIP phone service?

Since most VoIP phone calls are encrypted, they are reasonably safe.  However, given the technology is based on Internet Protocol, VoIP phone calls are susceptible to attacks from the Internet.

Does VoIP support 911?

Yes.
We suggest choosing a VoIP phone provider who supports E911 to ensure your safety.  Emergency responders will attend to the address that you have registered with your VoIP phone provider; therefore, it is crucial to update your address with your VoIP phone provider when you move.

What if I move?

VoIP phone service is tied to an IP address.  Since IP doesn’t have a physical address and can be connected from anywhere in the world, this means you can take the VoIP device anywhere as long as you have high-speed Internet connection.

Can I use my VoIP device when I travel?

Yes.
If you have high-speed Internet connection, you can make or receive calls from another part of the world.  For example, if your VoIP device includes unlimited calling to Canada, you can use your VoIP device anywhere in the world and make unlimited calls to Canada for free.

Can I keep my existing phone number?

It depends.
Most VoIP phone providers offer this service (called porting) but some don’t.  Usually, VoIP phone providers who offer their service for free or a low yearly fee usually charge a fee to port your current phone number.  VoIP phone providers who charge a monthly fee usually would port your phone number for free.

Can I call someone who is not using the VoIP phone service?

Yes.

Can I use my PC while I talk on the phone?

Yes.
(as long as you are not running programs using all your Internet bandwidth)

Does my PC need to be “on” to make VoIP calls?

No.
In most cases, you will connect your VoIP device/ATA directly to your network router so the PC doesn’t need to be “on”.  The only exception is when you use a Softphone program, which means your PC must be turned on.

Can I use my VoIP phone service during a power outage?

No.
Your Internet modem and VoIP device/ATA will not work without power.

How to keep my VoIP service working during a power outage?

You can purchase an Uninterrupted Power Supply (UPS) as backup power for your Ethernet modem, VoIP device/ATA and telephone (if it is a digital phone).

Can I fax with VoIP phone service?

Maybe.
Unfortunately, fax does not travel well over a VoIP network because VoIP technology divides the call into data packets.  Therefore, VoIP phone service is not a good choice if you require frequent faxing.  Keeping a landline for faxing is probably the best choice.  Some VoIP phone providers do claim their devices are “fax-friendly”. We recommend googling for VoIP user reviews that discuss faxing and confirm with the VoIP phone provider about your intended use.

Can I use VoIP phone service for my home security alarm monitoring system?

Maybe.
Both VoIP phone providers and alarm monitoring companies do not recommend using VoIP service for a home alarm monitoring system because VoIP phone service may encounter network outage.  However, reports from the web state users who switched to VoIP phone service claim their alarm monitoring service is not affected.  We recommend contacting your alarm company regarding VoIP service before making the switch.

Can I use my cordless phone with VoIP phone service?

Yes.All VoIP phone devices/ATAs have standard telephone jacks that you can connect with either cordless or analogue telephones.

Can I use my analogue phone with VoIP phone service?

Yes.All VoIP phone devices/ATAs have standard telephone jacks that you can connect with either analogue or cordless telephones.

How can I have phones in different rooms if my VoIP device/ATA has only one/two phone jack(s)?

The easy workaround is to purchase a multi-handset cordless phone.  Connect the base station to the VoIP device/ATA and you can place the handsets in different room of your place.

Is it difficult to set up VoIP phone service?

It depends.
The quick answer is No.  A typical VoIP phone service setup usually involves: getting a VoIP device (bought or supplied to you); contacting the VoIP phone provider (via website or phone in) to activate the device; connecting the VoIP device/ATA between your regular telephone and the network router; and you are ready to go.
Here’s the long answer, the setup process does vary among different VoIP phone providers.  Most VoIP phone providers that charge a monthly fee give you a pre-configured VoIP phone adapter (ATA) for free (but you need to return it upon cancellation).  They often have live-person technical support so they can walk you through the set up process.  These companies are your best bet if ease of set-up and live-person customer support is important to you.VoIP phone providers that charge a low yearly fee usually require you to buy their VoIP device first.  You have to activate the VoIP device on their website.  If you encounter issues during the setup, technical support is usually available via web chat.  Finally, VoIP phone providers that provide their service for free often don’t offer any customer support (live or web chat).  You need to find solutions in their website forums and troubleshooting section.  In most instances, you need to buy your own ATA and pay for a configuration file to enable their VoIP phone service.  This setup process is probably the most difficult if you are not computer savvy; no live customer support makes it worse.

I am ready to switch to VoIP phone service, do you have a checklist for “what to look for in a VoIP phone provider”?

Yes.
Check out Which VoIP Phone Provider Is Right For You and our VoIP Checklist.

 

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