VOIP (Voice over IP) or VOB (Voice over Broadband) or Internet Telephony, maybe you have heard of it? If you make phone calls using Skype or Voipcheap etc, then you have used VOIP.

Very basically, VOIP is a system that routes your phone calls directly through the Internet. In the case of Skype etc, you are using something called a “soft phone” because you are using your PC or Laptop as the “phone” and you would be using either a headset or in many cases a USB phone. The quality of the calls with this method can be very variable but the USB phones do seem to give a better experience.

The disadvantage of using a “soft phone” is that you need to have your PC powered up so a better system (all round) is to use an “IP Phone”. This is basically an ordinary looking phone but instead of connecting it to the phone line, you connect it to your “Gateway router” (Broadband router) and it becomes another network device. Once it’s set up, you just pick up the handset like a normal phone and make a call as you would normally but the call is going through the internet connection, not the phone line. The added benefit to using this system is that there are no connection fees so you only pay for the call in multiples of minutes; unlike a standard “BT”/”Virgin” call where you pay a connection fee of a few pence and then so much per minute. So potentially the cost of making phone calls is very much a cost advantage. In some cases the calls you make are completely free.

Another method of using VOIP is to use an “adapter”, this is basically an electronic box that you connect your standard phone to and the box is, in turn, connected to your broadband router. So you have the benefit of using VOIP without having the PC power up and you are still using your “ordinary” phone to make VOIP calls.

From a home user point of view, this facility would enable you to cancel the land line  but you might end up paying more for your broadband services so you would need to have a look at the cost savings and decide if there would be any overhaul cost savings. Not having any connection fees would be a big saver but it probably depends on how much you use your land line!

From a business user point of view, if you have a requirement of needing several land lines, the cost savings are potentially incredible, especially if you use the “hosted PBX” option.

To use the VOIP service, In addition to the choice of phones (e.g. soft phone, USB phone, Adapter or IP Phone) you are going to need an Internet Telephony Service  Provider (ITSP – similar to an Internet Service Provider). Your choice of ITSP will be paramount in the success of using VOIP and my choice so far is VOIPFONE, have a gander at their website and FAQs to find out more, http://www.voipfone.co.uk/FAQ.php

I can help you decide and implement a VOIP phone service.

jd.dvoit at gmail dot com (at = @, dot = . )