Everyone wants to save money on their utility bills and VOIP internet based phone services have exclaimed best service at the lowest cost but what are you really getting and how much are you really paying.
Voice Over Internet Protocol services have been around for about 10 years now. Some services provide computer to computer connections only while others allow you to connect from your network connection to a land line or cell phone at the other end.
In the beginning there were a number of free services that exposed the general public to the idea of using the internet backbone as the transmission service but Telecommunications Companies were offering much more robust services to businesses that wanted to connect individual offices.
Vonage was probably one of the first recognizable companies offering a package deal where they would send you a device independent of your computer where you could connect your home phone and simply send and receive phone calls.
Today you are likely to see most Cable Internet providers offering their version of a vonage type package. Often a mixed phone and internet cable modem are packaged allowing the customer to activate whichever service they would like independently.
Additionally there are companies like MagicJack that provide a USB device that can connect a telephone to your computer and provide phone to phone services .
Although you may think that voice services would not be a resource hog if you expect to have a decent echo free conversation that won’t disconnect then you will need an internet connection that can provide a sustained 60 to 90 kbps upload and download speed.
Sometimes this extra and sustained upload speed is hard to come by. If you are on DSL then you will probably need more then a basic plan but even on cable internet that provides excelent download speeds the upload side is (capped) set to a level too slow to provide both internet traffic and VOIP services.
For this reason services like Skype, Vonage, GoogleChat may not work while the cable companies own VOIP Service might work because although it is still through the internet it is independent of your computers internet connection.
The hardware required will depend on the service you choose.
The MagicJack USB Port device will allow you to take your phone with you however other services also provide similar devices.
If you want to connect your whole house instead of just one phone you can purchase devices that will ring your regular phones but this may require alteration of your current phone line wiring setup.
Another option is the standard home wireless phones and many companies like Skype are marketing special wireless phones so you do not need to alter your homes telephone wiring system.
If you run a PBX system at your work you should really talk directly with your provider. Many will not allow this option and will require individual phones to be setup but there are often workarounds.
If you are looking for a free service you may want to look at Google Chat which comes with GMail. This service will allow you to connect computer to computer over the internet.
Another free option is finding free software that will allow you to connect directly by computer to computer. This is a good way to make sure your conversations stay private and you should look for a product that provides encryption.
The least expensive service that will allow you to connect your telephone to your computer and make phone calls to other phones is MagicJack. If you already have high speed internet and possibly a second computer that you use for your media center then connecting a MagicJack USB device is relatively simple and costs only $20 a year.
If you need business services with more then one phone line and have cable tv internet access for your company then you should contact them about their business lines. Expect to pay a minimum of $35 a month on top of your internet connection.
Remember none of the services are free. Even Google Chat computer to computer over then internet requires that you have a relatively trouble free and fast internet connection.
Do not expect to run VOIP services over your Dialup Internet modem connection. Although you may actually be able to make connections the quality will be very poor. A medium grade DSL or Cable Internet connection with a fast upload speed is necessary.
Wireless connections in your home or from your service provider should be avoided. Unless you are getting an excellent signal which means you are within distance to plugin to a Ethernet connection a WiFi connection will not be reliable enough to use for phone conversations.
In all honesty none of these services should be relied on for emergency services. If you use VOIP services in your home you really must also have a cellphone or landline plan as a backup.
VOIP Services are dependent on too many factors to accept them as your only service but used properly they can reduce your monthly phone bill because you will not be using your minutes on your cell plan or paying for long distance charges.
The YouRepair Store sells a full line of VOIP Telephone Products