VoIP FAQs

Can I use VoIP with my 3G broadband connection?
How much bandwidth does VoIP Use?
Why isnt VoIP provider “X” listed on VoIP Choice?
Why isnt Skype listed on VoIP Choice?
How good is VoIP call quality?
Can I send Fax’s through VoIP?
Can I keep my current phone number?
Save $$ with Telstra Homeline Budget
Should I get rid of my phoneline?
What is QOS (Quality of Service) and is it important?
Choosing between a hardware or software base VoIP phone
What are audio codecs?
What kind of broadband for VoIP?
What is a Software based VoIP Phone?
What is a Hardware based VoIP phone?
Why was VoIP Choice Created
Incorrect Price Comparison Information

Can I use VoIP with my 3G broadband connection?

The rising popularity of 3G based broadband connections based partly on the possibility of having broadband access almost anywhere they may need it and with the incentives offered by telcos heavily discounted or of free USB based modems, has seen an increasing number of queries to VoIP Choice asking “Can I use VoIP with my 3G broadband connection?”.Yes, you can use VoIP on a 3G based broadband connection.However there are a number of things you should consider prior to signing up to a 3G broadband connection with the expectation of using VoIP.

Firstly you should test the 3G network you plan to use in the areas where you expect you would want to be making VoIP based calls. Test Your VoIP is a great free service for obtaining an indication of how suitable your broadband connection will be for VoIP based calls.

Ensure that your 3G broadband access plan has the appropriate download limits to support your expected calling patterns.

If you plan to use VoIP via your 3G capable mobile phone handset ensure that the handset allows the installation of a software based VoIP phone.

If you plan to use a USB based 3G modem in your home or office environment you will need to consider how you wish to use VoIP. It will be straight forward to set up a software based VoIP phone on your computer with the USB modem connected and make calls via a headset and microphone. However, if you wish to use a hardware VoIP phone you will need to investigate purchasing a USB 3G compatible router which are currently not readily found at your local computer shop.
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How much bandwidth does VoIP Use?

The bandwidth required to make a VoIP call is dependent on the audio codec used.

The most common codec used in Australia is the G729 codec which uses just over 13MB of data per hour when making calls.

A slightly higher quality codec which will require more bandwidth is the G711A codec, this will use around 39MB of data per hour when making calls. The minimum broadband speed to utilise the G711A codec would be a 512kbps ADSL connection. The data usage when calls are not active is minimal.
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Why isnt VoIP provider “X” listed on VoIP Choice?

All of the providers listed on VoIP Choice have an Australian presence. This means that the VoIP provider has hardware located in Australia this means that call quality to Australian landlines will be of a higher quality. This is due to the fact that when making calls using overseas based VoIP providers to Australian PSTN lines the call needs to make a return trans continental journey which can result in degraded call quality.

Please Note: A number of Internet Service Providers are now offering VoIP as part of their broadband plan offerings. At present VoIP Choice is only listing VoIP Providers who offer services to all internet users regardless of their broadband provider.

If you find a provider that is based in Australia and not listed on our price comparison please Contact Us with the details of the provider and we will verify the information and include it in our price comparison.

Why isnt VoIP Skype listed on VoIP Choice?

Skype software has been receiving a lot of press since the recent buy out by Ebay. Skype is not currently listed on VoIP Choice for a number of reasons.

  • Skype currently has no Australian presence, this means that any calls to an Australian landline requires your call to make a return trans continental journey before arriving at the desired call destination in Australia, this journey can result in lower call quality.
  • All calling rates are charged in US currency this results in Skype prices being uncompetitive in the Australian market when compared to local VoIP providers.
  • Skype uses its own VoIP protocol meaning it does not offer interoperability with other VoIP providers.

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How good is VoIP call quality?

The sound quality of VoIP calls is now very good, with most VoIP users and VoIP call recipients finding the quality of calls to be indistinguishable from there standard PSTN phone service. There are a number of factors that will impact on the quality of VoIP calls, these are:

  • The quality of the hardware used,
  • Local network traffic, (see QOS)
  • Broadband Internet Service Provider quality (network speeds and congestion).
  • If all of the above factors are working effectively then your VoIP experience is likely to be excellent.

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Can I send Fax’s through VoIP?

Sending fax’s via VoIP or Fax over Internet Protocol (FoIP) is theoretically possible and some VoIP providers have the ability to offer this functionality. However as VoIP works on the concept of compressing the audio signal by filtering out some high an low end noise’s, means that faxing which requires all of the data created in the fax scan to be received at the other end is often unpredictable at best. As fax calls are generally short in duration the amount of savings by using FoIP is not as great as those experienced while using VoIP, therefore continuing to use your existing Fax facilities or investigating an electrionic/email fax service would be the best options.
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Can I keep my current phone number?

If you have the ability to cancel your home line and choose a VoIP plan with a DID then you will be allocated a new landline number in the area/city you are in or area/city you nominate. If you have an ADSL broadband connection then you will need to keep your current PSTN phone line and will still be able to receive calls on this number while making your outgoing calls via VoIP.
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Save $$ with Telstra Homeline Budget

For users who are not able to cancel there home phone (see FAQ) a way to possibly gain some further savings when using VoIP to make calls is by using the Telstra Homeline Budget Plan. This plan is currently the cheapest way to maintain a phone connection that allows the user to remain connected to ADSL services. However, be sure that most of your calls are going to be made using a VoIP provider as using the Homeline Budget Plan to make calls through the PSTN network will incur higher than average call costs. However as most users utilise VoIP to make the majority of their calls the higher standard call costs becomes less of an issue.
Recent changes to the terms and conditions of the Telstra homeline budget plan mean that consumers who wish to change to this plan who have an ADSL2+ service with a provider other than Telstra will be denied access to the plan.

However, consumers who utilise ADSL1 services (ie 256/512/1500 speeds) from nearly all other internet service providers will be able to change to the homeline budget plan. To confirm your eligibility contact your internet service provider to see if they supply your ADSL service through a “Telstra wholesale port”, if the answer is yes, call telstra and make the change to budget with confidence. If you are told that using another internet provider means you are unable to access this plan, respond by stating “my adsl service does not utilise any LSS (line sharing service) and I am eligible for the homeline budget plan.”

If you have an ADSL 2+ service with a provider other than Telstra it cant hurt to call and request a move to Homeline Budget, when asked what kind of broadband just state “I have broadband through a provider other than telstra” and again request the move to the budget plan. In most cases the change will progress as Telstra “Retail” who are selling you the phone service should NOT have access to the information about your broadband plan (type/speeds etc) as these details should only be known by Telstra “wholesale” and your ISP.
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Should I get rid of my phoneline?

When using VoIP the temptation to cancel your existing PSTN line and save $30 a month on line rental is an appealing proposition. However, in Australia the only option for canceling a PSTN phone service and replacing it entirely with VoIP is restricted to those households and business’s serviced by fibre optic cable or a quality wireless ISP. This is due to the fact that broadband provisioning via ADSL or ISDN and in many cases Satellite requires the use of an active phone line. Important issues that should be considered before canceling a phone service:

  • How will you be able to make or receive calls in the event of a power outage, ISP outage or problems with your VoIP Hardware or VoIP provider.
  • Does your VoIP provider support 000 calls. It is strongly advised that PSTN line service should not be canceled unless you have adequate answers to these questions.

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What is QOS (Quality of Service) and is it important?

QOS is feature contained within many modern broadband modems/routers. QOS works be giving priority access to the bandwidth of the home network to certain types of data or to a certain IP address. The benefit of this feature is seen in the assistance it offers in maintaining the quality of VoIP calls when the network/internet is being used for other purposes. If your network is not likely to be used while you are on the phone or you are connected to a fast cable or ADSL2 connection the importance of this feature is lessened.
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Choosing between a hardware or software base VoIP phone

There are positives and negatives for each of these options.

Cost

Quality of Call

Can be used when your computer is switched off

Call users of other VoIP providers for free

Hardware Phone

More Expensive

Better Quality

Yes

More difficult

Software Phone

Cheaper

Good Quality

No

Easily

See each of the Hardware and Software Phone FAQ’a for more details on each of these options.
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What are audio codecs?

Codecs are used to convert the analog voice signal created by your phone or pc microphone to a digitally encoded signal. Different codecs will supply variations in sound quality, the bandwidth required, and the computer processing to convert the audio signal. Each VoIP provider, software or hardware phone generally supports several different codecs. The codec to be used can be generally be configured in the VoiP phone to tailor the quality/features required to support the bandwidth available from the local broadband connection.

If you are interested in further details on codecs this site provides a comprehensive overview, the average user will in general not need to know any of this information.
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What kind of broadband for VoIP?

VoIP will work on a 64 or 128k ISDN connection, however for good Quality of Service (QOS) a minimum of a 256k connection is recommended. These kinds of speeds can be achieved with DSL, Cable, 3G and Wireless networks. If you plan to use your internet connection for other kinds of data transfer at the same time as VoIP it would be highly recommended to get a connection speed greater than 256k and implement QOS within your network hardware to ensure consistent quality in VoIP calls.

While VoIP can work through a satellite connection the quality of the connection due to the inherent limitations of satellite broadband can result in a poor voice call quality, and as such a number of VoIP providers will indicate that they will not provide a service to satellite broadband based customers..

An excellent resource for helping to choose a broadband service and to gain user opinions about the network quality of various service providers is Whirlpool’s Broadband Choice.
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What is a Software based VoIP Phone?

A software based VoIP phone or soft phone is a VoIP telephone in software. It can be installed on a computer and functions as an IP phone. Soft phones require appropriate audio hardware to be installed on the computer. This can either be a sound card with speakers or headphones and a microphone, or, alternatively a USB based phone handset. Soft phones are often inferior to hard phones but cheaper to obtain with many available as a free download. For some good free soft phones see our links section.

A typical Soft Phone configuration.
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What is a Hardware based VoIP phone?

A hardware based VoIP phone can come in a number of varieties the 2 most common types are outlined below. It should be noted that within each variety of hardware different manufacturers can offer different features. Also a number of all in one unit’s are now coming on the market which can contain a broadband modem/router/wireless router/QOS and VoIP ATA.

    • IP Phone.
      An IP Phone looks and works in very much the same way as your standard telephone with the exception that this phone will connect straight into your home network via an Ethernet cable. This phone will work independently from your computer therefore will work even when your PC is switched off.

A typical IP Phone configuration.

  • ATA, (Analogue Telephone Adaptor)An ATA is one of the most popular ways for the home user to enter into using VoIP. With an ATA your current home telephone can be plugged directly into the ATA using the telephones RJ-12 cable to the ATA. The ATA is then connected to your home network using an Ethernet port. There are a number of features available in the ATA market, including the ability to have more than one phone connected to the ATA, as well as the useful PSTN passthrough function which allows your standard telephone line to be connected to the to the ATA allowing calls to be made through VoIP or PSTN, this option means you will be able to continue to use just one handset in the home to make and receive calls and provides some insurance in the event of power/ISP or voice provider outage by sending calls out through the PSTN network when VoIP calling fails. An ATA will work independently from your computer therefore will work even when your PC is switched off.A typical ATA VoiP configuration.

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Why was VoIP Choice Created

The creators of VoIP Choice have been involved in technology, computers, web hosting and web design for many years. Recently while investigating VoIP implementation for small businesses the need for a simple resource to explain and compare offerings in the Australian market was recognised. VoIP is an emerging technology with huge potential, however it is in general currently restricted those people with intermediate to advanced computer skills. Our intention is to create a site where new and general computer users can come and have VoIP demystified and as a result increase the number of people who can benefit from the savings this technology can offer.
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Incorrect Price Comparison Information

The VoIP Choice Price Comparison Page is provided as free service to Australian VoIP consumers. Whilst the plans listed are checked and verified regularly it is likely that occasionally due to the rapidly changing nature of the VoIP provider industry that incorrect plan or price information will be displayed. If you notice that plan or price details are incorrect it would be appreciated if you could please Contact Us and we will verify and add or amend the specified plan and price details.
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