So you’ve heard about VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) and want to know what its all about? Well you’ve come to the right place. I’m not even going to tell you that VoIP is a protocol, because thats not what you want to know. You don’t care how it works, just that it does… whatever it is.
So what is it? Well in a nutshell, VoIP is just another, cheaper way for you to speak to people all over the world. In the past, the “plain old telephone system” (POTS) was the only way to carry your voice across wires and cables to the person you were speaking to. However, now many people have broadband (fast) internet which is connected all the time. Since you can get webpages from around the world at no extra cost, it was inevitable that at some point people would start using the internet to talk to their friends instead of the POTS and in doing so, save a lot of money.
You are probably wondering how you can start to use VoIP to save money on your phone calls, especially if you make a lot of national or international phone calls. The recipe is simple, here are the ingredients -
- A Broadband Internet Connection
- A Hardware or Software based VoIP phone
- An Australian VoIP Provider
Advantages and Disadvantages
How will buying all this save you money? Your broadband connection costs money, as does the equipment and the VoIP provider will also have fees to pay. The saving comes with the significant price difference in phone calls. For example, a call from North Sydney to South Sydney is 25 – 40 cents depending on your carrier, but is closer to 10 cents (on average) with VoIP. That’s just a local call, now if the same person in North Sydney calls a land line in Perth, the cost is still only around 10 cents, but could be several dollars with the regular phone network.
What’s that I hear you say? You want to disconnect your phone carrier and just use VoIP? That would be satisfying wouldn’t it! Especially considering the rate you pay for line rental and phone calls. However there are two main problems with this. The first, is that many broadband connections such as ISDN and DSL services, require you to have an active phone line (Not technically, but as a matter of policy as defined by Telstra). The second problem is that emergency numbers such as 000 are not always supported with VoIP services and a broadband service/router is in some way less reliable than the regular land line.
Do You Really Need VoIP?
With this in mind you will have to look at your phone bill and your internet usage and decide whether VoIP is worthwhile for you.
- If you make a lot of phone calls generally you will find VoIP is more than justifiable and will quickly pay for itself in the savings you make.
- If you are an average phone user, but are an avid broadband internet user, you are already halfway there so the cost may still work out in your favor.
- If you live regionally but do have access to broadband, the savings you make in National and STD calls will quickly justify VoIP service.
- If you are looking for a cheaper way to implement VoIP a software based VoIP phone, or “softphone” such as x-ten lite might be a cheaper option than that of a hardware VoIP solution.
- If you don’t make many phone calls and/or don’t use broadband much the overall cost of VoIP might not be necessary.
A typical home ATA configuration.
Getting Started with VoIP
Ok, so you want to go ahead start using VoIP, so you will need the ingredients I mentioned earlier. Each of these are worth thinking about so choose each carefully and with the right combination you will be onto a good thing.
- A Broadband Internet Connection - VoIP will work on a 64 or 128k ISDN connection, however for good Quality of Service (QOS) a 256k connection is recommended at least. These kinds of speeds can be achieved with DSL, Cable, Satellite and Wireless connections all of which are outside the scope of this website. A good starting place for comparing Australian broadband providers is Whirlpool.net.au.
- A Hardware or Software based VoIP Phone - VoIP Handsets can look just like regular phones except they can plug into your broadband router, hub or your computer instead of the regular phone line. Like most things they vary in price from the simple and cheap to the elaborate and costly. A popular solution, is the Analog Phone Adapter or ATA which allows you to use your normal phone but also is connected to your broadband router or hub and will route calls accordingly. As time goes by, we hope to compile and review various options for both Handsets and ATA’s in order for you to make an informed decision.
- A VoIP Provider - To start using the VoIP service, you need to subscribe to a VoIP plan, much the same way you select an internet plan based on your usage. In order for you to make the best decision based on your needs, we have compiled a list of providers and plans that allow you to compare and consider the benefits of each in order to assist you. Visit our Residential or Business VoIP Price Comparisons.
For more information on VoIP visit our VoIP FAQs and for a description of some of the services available from VoIP providers see our VoIP Services Explained section. If you have any queries that have not been answered please feel free to contact us.