VoIP, which is short for Voice Over the Internet Protocol is not a new technology anymore, but it required some time to become as popular and widespread as it is today. Voice Over the Internet Protocol consists in sending/receiving digital audio signals over the internet. More simply put: VoIP allows you to make/receive calls using the internet instead of landlines.
The first Internet phone service was offered by VocalTec, back in 1996. But the one deserving most credits is Alon Cohen, an entrepreneur from Israel (who was a cofounder of VocalTec), who, in 1989, invented the audio transceiver that made VoIP possible.
How does it work?
VoIP is a very complex and versatile technology that delivers data using the IP protocol. The data doesn’t necessarily have to be audio, it can also be text, pictures, multimedia messages. In order for VoIP to work, the signal has to be converted from analog to digital packets of data. That data is encrypted and sent to its recipient. After reaching its destination, the signal will then be converted back to analog.
VoIP works between various sources. A VoIP call can be placed through a computer, a special VOIP phone and a regular phone that has a VoIP adapter. You can even make VoIP calls using your smartphone. Features such as call conferencing, call transfer, call forwarding, online fax and voicemail are all available when using a VOIP system.
What are the benefits of VoIP?
The ones to benefit most from VoIP are businesses, because they need a more affordable communication method to be able to keep in touch with their customers, business partners and so on. VoIP makes communication considerably more convenient and affordable for businesses of all kinds.
But casual users can also benefit greatly from this technology. The cost of setting up a VoIP system is inexistent and VoIP can help you get rid of all the huge phone bills every time you have to make a long-distance phone call. VoIP is also more versatile and the cross-platform feature found in VoIP allows you to make calls using almost any type of device. Softphone support (a softphone is a software that you install on your device to be able to make VoIP calls) is also crucial, because you can find a plethora of apps and programs that allow you to make calls using the internet. Skype, Viber, WhatsApp, are just a few examples.
The rich set of features included with almost any VoIP service is what makes VoIP so attractive. There are a lot of useful tools you can use with VoIP, from video conferencing to faxing, call recording, call blocking, call forwarding, music on hold and so much more.
International calling is another important benefit of VoIP, as this technology allows you to make calls anywhere you want in the world, without additional costs or hardware.
Which are some of the best residential VoIP service providers to consider in 2019?
AXVoice is a very reputable and popular VoIP service provider that operates in both the United States and Canada. The company offers residential VoIP services and business VoIP services as well.
AXVoice offers three residential plans to its customers: USA/Canada Unlimited, US/Canada 200, Pay As You Go.
USA/Canada Unlimited: it is $8.25 per month; it includes unlimited calls to anywhere in the US and Canada
US/Canada 200: it is billed $ 5.99 per month and includes 200 minutes to anywhere in the US and Canada and free incoming calls
Pay As You Go: $4.99 per month and includes calls that cost 1.5 cents per minute to anywhere in the US and Canada.
AXVoice also offers international VoIP plans and there are two options to choose from: Residential International and Residential International Plus.
Residential International: it is priced at $16.58/month and comes with unlimited calling to more than 45 international destinations; free equipment is also included
Residential International Plus is priced at $29.99 per month and it includes unlimited VoIP calls to more than 60 international destinations.
One great thing about AXVoice is the fact that it gives you access to all its VoIP features, regardless of the plan you opt for. You don’t need to choose a business plan to get access to more features, all the features are available to all the customers. The difference between plans is the number of minutes included and not the features.
AXVoice offers over 30 VoIP features such as: call forwarding, call recording, caller ID, music on hold, blacklist, 3-way calling, anonymous call rejection, do not disturb, failover, conference calling and more.
Vonage is a VoIP service provider based in New Jersey and has been on the market since 2001. This company offers both residential and business VoIP services and has more than 2.5 million subscribers so far.
Residential plans offered by Vonage
There are 4 plans to choose from for homeowners: Vonage North America, Vonage World, US & Canada 400, Vonage 3000 to Globe Philippines.
You can either opt for a 1-year contract or choose to get billed without one.
Vonage North America - you can choose between their 1-year contract with a 6-month promotion (which is billed at $9.99/month for the first 6 months, plus taxes and fees and after the first 6 months you pay $24.99/month) and the no contract option, which is $24.99/month plus taxes and fees.
This plan includes unlimited calls for home and mobile phones all across the US, Canada, Puerto Rico and Mexico. It also comes with low international rates.
Vonage World - If you opt for the one-year agreement you get to benefit from their 6-month promotion and pay only $14.99/month for the first 6 months and after that, you have to pay $27.99/month. With no contract, you will be billed $27.99/month.
With this plan you get unlimited landline international calls in over 60 countries and unlimited calling to mobile phones in 10 countries. There’s a mobile app you can download if you’re going to use your smartphone.
US & Canada 400 – With this plan the price is the same, $12.99/month. If you opt for the 1-year contract though, you’ll also get free shipping and activation. The plan includes 400 minutes/month to US, Canada and Puerto Rico, on both landlines and mobile phones.
Vonage 3000 to Globe Philippines - The one-year agreement includes a 3-month promotion in which you are billed $14.99/month for the first 3 months and after that, $29.99/month. For no annual contract, you have to pay $29.99/month from the beginning.
This plan comes with 3000 minutes to Globe numbers in the Philippines, available on both landlines and mobiles.
Features included with Vonage: call forwarding, call waiting, call return, caller ID, anonymous call block, 3-way calling, bandwidth saver, Vonage voicemail plus, do not disturb, the boomerang feature (you can add to boomerang your family/loved ones and get faster, automatic connections through your Vonage number, every time boomerang contacts call you. You can use this feature on landlines and smartphones and answer calls from anywhere using WiFi, 3G or 4G).
PhonePower is a VoIP service provider based in California, on the market since 2005. It offers international plans and USA/Canada plans.
There are 3 options available with the USA/Canada plans: a 1-year prepay plan (comes to a $8.33 monthly average), a 1-year contract locks in $9.95 per month and a no contract/no prepay option, priced at $19.95 per month. All of them include a 30-day money back guarantee. The plans also include international calling; you get 60 minutes per month in more than 50 countries worldwide.
There are also 3 International plans available: Unlimited World, Unlimited World Plus and Unlimited World Premium.
Unlimited World – priced at $19.95/month, includes unlimited calling to 28 countries
Unlimited World Plus - $24,95/month, includes unlimited calling to 75 countries
Unlimited World Premium - $49.95/month, includes unlimited calling to 87 countries
There are more than 45 VoIP features included with PhonePower: caller ID, call waiting, call forwarding, softphone support, 3-way conference calling, simultaneous ring, voicemail to email, 7, 10, 11-digit dialing, speed dial, block list, free second line, web-based call logs and more.