|What is VoIP?
VoIP or Voice over the Internet Protocol is a technology for transmitting conversations over the internet. Using programs such as Skype™, MSN® Messenger or Yahoo® Messenger, voice data is sent over the internet rather than by traditional dedicated telephone circuits.
Why use VoIP?
A big advantage of VoIP is that you only pay for the access to the internet and not the phone call to people using the same software. It’s the same principle of not buying a stamp to send an email. Some VoIP services will also allow you to make and receive calls to landlines.
How much does VoIP cost?
If you already have a broadband internet connection, VoIP calls, video calls and file transfer between people using the same software is free; you can’t however call between different programs.
Some programs offer a call out or SMS service to landlines and mobiles all over the world at very cheap prices on a pay-as-you-go arrangement. Some also offer a call in and voice mail service for a fixed annual cost.
Why should I use it?
VoIP is useful to everyone, but it really comes into its own if you talk frequently to the same people: students away at university, businesses and their suppliers or customers and parents of teenagers who seem to be constantly on the phone to their friends could all benefit greatly from using VoIP.
do I need?
Soundcard Handset - A telephone handset that replaces your speaker and microphone by plugging into the mic and speaker ports on your PC’s soundcard. It is inexpensive and easy to set up, requiring no additional configuration or software to operate.
USB Handset - The most popular solution. The handset acts as a PC soundcard when it is plugged in. Some are supplied with software which enables you to control the Skype™ program through the handset. Some also have a display which can show information from your contacts list etc.
Analogue Telephone Adaptor (ATA) - A box that connects to your PC via USB allowing you to connect a regular landline telephone to your PC for use with VoIP. Most will also allow you to connect your phone to the landline at the same time and some redirect VoIP calls via the landline to another phone. Others will also allow you to control Skype™ through the phone.
DECT cordless VoIP handsets - Similar to USB handsets; the base station of the phone connects to your PC via USB, but with the advantage of not being tied to the PC while using VoIP.
Some VoIP DECT phones are designed to be connected to the landline at the same time and can make and receive calls from both VoIP and landlines. Many are able to control the Skype™ program from the handset.