Most people don't know that they already have everything they need to start saving money using internet telephony, or VoIP. All you have to have is a regular telephone and high-speed internet access. That's it! If you have both of those, you are ready to start saving loads of money on local and long distance phone calls.
It is inevitable that VOIP will replace traditional telephone service at some point. The only question is when should you jump in?
VOIP is quickly becoming more reliable and receiving wider acceptance. In fact, phone companies are already taking advantage of the technology to provide cheaper long distance rates. Like any emerging technology, however, there are kinks in the system that are still being worked out.
Internet Phone Service has numerous advantages over traditional telephone service. The most obvious is the cost benefits. If you have a high-speed internet connection, you can make phone calls from PC-to-PC anywhere in the world for FREE! More common PC-to-Phone calls usually come with a small charge but are still much cheaper than regular phone service.
For a small monthly fee, you can sign up with a VoIP service provider and get unlimited calls within the country! International calls can also be made for a fraction of the cost of regular service.
Another advantage is its portability. You can make and receive phone calls wherever there is a broadband connection by simply signing in to your VOIP account. This makes VOIP as convenient as e-mail. When you're traveling, you simply pack a headset or Internet phone; then you can talk to family or colleagues for next to nothing.
Phone-to-phone VOIP is also portable. Internet phones are small and light enough to take anywhere. When you sign up with a VOIP service provider, the Internet phone or adaptor used by that service is assigned a unique number. This 'phone number' remains valid, even if your VOIP service is in Los Angeles and you're connected to the Internet in London. When plugged into a broadband connection, anywhere in the world, you can make and receive calls as though you were at home.
Features like call forwarding, call waiting, voicemail, caller ID and 3way-calling, are included with Internet telephone at no extra charge. While you're talking on the phone, you can send pictures and documents at the same time.
Unfortunately, there are a couple of minor drawbacks you may experience. The first is the fact that you would loose service during a power outage and the other is limited emergency calling.
Conventional phone service continues by the current supplied through the phone line during a blackout. This isn't possible with Internet phones. When the power goes, there goes VOIP service. Battery backups and power generators that provide electricity are the current solutions to this problem.
Emergency (911) calls are another concern for many potential customers as well. In the event that you need to call 911 but can't speak or have to leave, your call can be traced when dialed from a traditional phone. However, this is not the case with VoIP. Fortunately, there is currently technology being developed called 'e911' that will make this possible, so this will not be a problem for much longer.
VOIP also has sound quality and reliability problems. Data sent across the Internet usually arrives at its destination scrambled. E-mail and documents can be reassembled in the correct order when it arrives. Voice data also arrives scrambled, but it's more complicated because of the real-time nature of VOIP. Some data packets may have to be dropped when they don't arrive in time, in order to make voice connections with the least delay. This can cause brief silences in the audio stream.
Your internet connection speed and the distance of the call are the two biggest factors in the quality of the call. If you are in a high-traffic area this may also cause some loss in the quality of the conversation. Once again, technology is constantly being improved on and this is becoming less and less of an inconvenience.
While the disadvantages mentioned above currently present minor problems, it is expected that these will be corrected and VoIP technology will have become the industry standard for telephone communication.