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What is VoIP and why do I need it



VoIP is a short term for “Voice over Internet Protocol” that is a technology for making phone calls using the internet and special software instead of using traditional telephone hardware such as phone lines. For example, to make a regular phone call you need a phone, a phone connection (line or sim card) and a contract with a phone carrier. With VoIP you need an internet connected computer/smartphone, a microphone and a speaker and special software/app that manages the VoIP phone call.

Why use VoIP at all?

The main reason is that VoIP calls are much cheaper. Another reason is that you don’t need to have a phone and a contract with a carrier. So why not use VoIP all the time? because it requires good internet connection and setup.

So how do I use VoIP?

In general, there are two types of phone calls that can be made using VoIP.

1 – Both sides in the conversation are using VoIP

Pros: the call does not cost anything except internet data. If both sides are connected via a free Wifi then the call is for free.

Cons: Using this method both sides will typically use the same software/app to manage the call. There are many types of software and not all people have the same type of software or have software at all. The software may also require a setup for each person you intend to call. As a consequence, usually this method is used to make phone calls between people that know each other, for making long expensive conversations or if making calls on a regular basis with the same person. Another limitation is if using a computer to receive the call there is no ringing sound you can hear when you are away from the computer so you usually need to setup the call time beforehand. When using a smartphone usually the VoIP app can make a the phone ring as if it was a normal call.

Software/app examples: Skype, Viber, Whatsapp calls

2 – One person (usually the caller) is using VoIP and the other person is using a regular phone

Pros: you can call any person that has a regular phone number and the other person does not even know it’s a VoIP call and doesn’t need to have internet connection. There is no additional setup for each person you call – you simply dial the number as if using a normal phone.

Cons: It still costs money to make the call, although usually much cheaper than regular phone. Why? the software/app you use to make the call is connected to one side (usually the caller) with internet connection but to the other side with regular phone connection. So the phone carrier of one side still need to get paid.

Software/app examples: Telestar – Intcall apps, Rebtel. Also many ‘full VoIP’ apps provide also version that is ‘one way’ VoIP, for example Skype offers “Skype-out”calls.

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To summarize, you can use VoIP to save money on your phone calls. With a smartphone all you need is to download a VoIP app, complete a short setup and you are ready to go!

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