What is VoIP?

Recently a friend of mine (Reggie) wrote me an email quizzing me about what VoIP really is. And in answering that letter, it occurred to me that many people might have the same questions he did. So, I thought I'd essentially post my reply to his email out here for all to see. Hope it's informative and useful...

Reggie: Tell me more about VOIP. Do you have to have a broadband connection to use it?

Jeff: Yes. When you sign up, you basically get a gateway that sits between your internal phone network and your internal LAN. It converts phone infrastructure to packet-based information, then sends it out over the net through your high-speed connection. So, that's the rub if you've got DSL... You'd still need SBC to give you the line to use for DSL. If you've got Cable or Wireless (that's what I have), going with VoIP allows you to TOTALLY eliminate SBC or whoever your local Telco is. That was a good day. :-)

Reggie: Does the user on the other end have to have a VOIP phone?

Jeff: Nope. They won't even know the difference.

Reggie: What is the monthly cost?

Jeff: I pay $25/mo with very low taxes compared to the telcos. I use Vonage. There are others, but they're the big name. I thought I saw a $19.95/mo special they were running on Yahoo recently.

BTW, the $25/mo is for unlimited calling anywhere in the US, Canada or Porta Rico. (Who calls Porta Rico, anyway?)

Reggie: Do you have to have a computer?

Jeff: Nope, although many VoIP phones are programmable via USB and the Vonage service is almost totally configurable from the website.

Reggie: How is the sound quality?

Jeff: It depends on your bandwidth. If you've only got a 256KB stream, then you might have problems. I have 10 mbps up and down, so it's actually AWESOME! The only bad part is that sometimes it cuts out like a cell phone, but I don't know why that would be.

Reggie: What other features come with the packages?

Jeff: Everything... Check out www.vonage.com.

Reggie: Is it difficult to get in some places?

Jeff: If you have highspeed internet, you can use VoIP. It's not like Comcast and DSL, where it has to be "offered in your area". In fact, your VoIP gateway is just an internet device. Period. If you came to visit me, brought your gateway with you, and plugged it into my network, you could plug my phone into it, and make/take calls to/from your home number. Make sense?

Might also want to check out a site like Vonage, since they have quite a bit of info out there.


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