Communications are now the lifeblood of society: many
people work from home, business is now truly global and life
moves at an ever increasing pace.
There is an increase in communication equipment in the
home and car such as telephones, modems and Bluetooth® headsets.
There are four basic types of telephone:
1. Analogue corded - traditional telephone with a fixed cord
from the phone base to the handset.
2. Analogue cordless - the first system of cordless technology.
It has limited operating distances.
3. New frequency analogue cordless - an enhanced system
which uses eight channel technology, a new frequency range
of 31-39MHz and gives clearer calls and larger operating
distance up to 100m from the base station.
4. DECT - Digital Enhanced Cordless Telephony - uses digital
cordless technology, operating on 1.8GHz and allow multiple
handsets to be used from a single base station, offering
improved reception, clearer speech and a range of up to
A modem is a device which allows a computer to send and
receive information over a telephone line. It can be an internal
device built into the desktop, laptop, or a separate external box
that connects to a computer’s serial port or a PC card that
plugs into the PC card slot found on most laptops.
Modems are available in a variety of speeds. The faster the
modem, the quicker the data transfer and hence the shorter
and cheaper the phone call will be. This is provided the
telephone line and other end of the line can support the
modem speed and protocol.
To connect a modem to a telephone line, you will need a BT
style socket. (See the following section on BT style sockets and
installing extensions). Faster access speeds are possible using
ISDN digital phone lines or Broadband.
Broadband is the method of sending and receiving data over
high-speed networks. Broadband connections use cable or
ADSL where there is a greater capacity to send data than
standard telephone networks; allowing you to access the
internet quicker, download files faster and send and receive
emails without the long wait and allows phone calls and
surfing at the same time.. High speed modems allow you to
connect at speeds up to 20Mbps
Always on - this means that you are permanently connected
to the internet and don’t need to dial up a connection every
time you want to surf the web, send email etc.
Flat rate - depending on the type of connection you choose,
if you have an uncapped rate there will be no additional
charges for the time you are online. You can use it as much
or as little as you would like for a fixed fee. Some
connections are available at a lower cost but limit you to
the amount of data you download (known as ‘capped rate’).
VoIP or Voice Over Internet Protocol is beginning to
revolutionise the telephone industry. As the name suggests, you
can call people all over the world for the price of a local phone
call using the internet as opposed to traditional phone lines.
(See our VoIP leaflet for more details)
VoIP programs include Skype™, MSN® Messenger or Yahoo® Messenger. It is important to understand that calls are only the
cost of using the internet time if both people have the relevant
If you want to make calls to landlines from your PC, you can
purchase credits from the provider, such as Skype™. To use your
existing phone you require a VoIP gateway attached to your
phone. You can alternatively use a USB converter allowing you
to use your normal phone via a PC.
How much does VoIP cost?
For people with a broadband internet connection, VoIP calls
between people using the same programs are free. You
can’t call between different programs. Some programs offer
a call out 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,
parents of teenagers who seem to have a phone
permanently stuck to their ear could all benefit greatly from
What do I need?
To use VoIP you will need a PC or laptop with a internet
connection, a VoIP programme and some form of audio
hardware to talk and listen through.
Bluetooth is the name for short range radio frequency (RF)
technology and can be effective up to 100 metres, using very
little power and avoiding interference from other RF devices.
It is used by all manufacturers of RF devices that conform to
the Bluetooth Certification Programme; meaning the device
will link with other manufacturers’ devices as well as its own.
Bluetooth allows a wireless transfer of data between two
Bluetooth enabled devices such as a mobile phone and
headset or PC and laptop.
There are several versions of Bluetooth®:
v1.1 encrypts the transmitting data and indicates the signal
v1.2 is backwards compatible with 1.1 but has faster
connection and discovery as well as higher quality and faster
v2.0 has an enhanced data rate that allows it to transmit
data up to ten times faster than its predecessors. It also has
reduced errors and lower power consumption.
PMR is the official term for license-free ‘walkie-talkies’ used
in the UK and Europe. You can talk up to a range of 3km
over eight channels (depending on the terrain) for free;
whether you’re at home, in a factory, on a building site in fact
anywhere where there is distance or high sound pollution.
If you are only an occasional user, select a simple twin-pack.
For the everyday use, choose a more rugged design with
batteries and a charger.
All PMRs work at 446MHz, so you can mix and match your
makes and they will still work.
Look out for features such as auto-squelch; this removes
background noise. VOX signifies that the PMR can be voice
activated so you don’t need to press a button to talk.
CB or citizen band radio no longer requires a license. It has a
much bigger range than PMR and has 40 channels (UK)
operating on 27Mhz. It’s important that you choose the right
aerial and therefore range for you.
*Access to emergency services numbers will not be available
during power cuts on VoIP services