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Want to switch to VoIP? Find out what equipment you need

Cristina Avatar By: Cristina | Last updated May 5, 2020

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There are a lot of reasons for you to want to switch from the PSTN to VoIP. Voice Over the Internet Protocol is a more affordable and versatile technology and it is easier to set up.

VoIP has been around since 1996 when VocalTec started to offer internet phone services for the first time. Since then, the technology has gone through major changes and advancements. Nowadays, it is popular all around the world, for both residential and business purposes.

How does it work?

In order for VoIP to be used, the audio signal has to first be converted into a digital one, more precise, into several packets of digital data. These packets are sent via the internet to the recipient, in a secure manner, because the data is encrypted so it can’t be hacked. Once the data reaches its destination, it is converted back to analog.

VoIP can be used to transmit data between two VoIP users or a VoIP user and one that uses analog telephony.

VoIP works on traditional phones (through a special VoIP adapter), between computers, on tablets and mobile devices, as long as the VoIP provider offers a mobile app.

What do you need in order to be able to use VoIP?  

The equipment needed for making VoIP calls very much depends on your VoIP needs. You need different hardware as a business wanting to switch to VoIP, than a home user who just wants to use VoIP for personal communication needs.

How much does it cost to use VoIP?

One of the most important benefits of VoIP is that it is cost-cutting, compared to traditional telephony. You can cut your expenses considerably, in terms of setup costs, monthly bill and equipment.

There are basically no setup costs with VoIP, because you don’t need the help of a professional to install the system. You usually get clear instructions with any type of VoIP system you have to install and the entire process takes only a few minutes. And even if you encounter any problems in the setup process or after that, all reputable VoIP providers offer customer support to their customers.

The monthly bill will also drop considerably when you switch from traditional telephony to VoIP. The main reason why is because you won’t have to pay huge phone bills every time you need to make a long-distance call, as it is the case with landlines. The fact that phone calls are made through the internet means you can make much more affordable calls anywhere in the world. Moreover, there are VoIP services that include free international VoIP minutes with their plans.

You also get to save a lot of money on hardware when you switch to VoIP. If you just need VoIP for residential use, chances are you can use this technology with just your computer, laptop or mobile device such as a tablet or smartphone; you don’t need to invest in additional hardware. All you need to have is access to a high-speed internet connection, but in this day and age, if you own a computer or smartphone, you most likely have access to internet as well.

If you want to use VoIP and still keep your analog phone, it is possible to do so with most VoIP providers. Here is what you need:

  • You need to first sign up for a VoIP service
  • Once you are subscribed, you will receive a special VoIP phone adapter from your provider; the adapter has the role of letting you use VoIP with your traditional phone
  • You also need the phone itself
  • An AC power adapter
  • As we’ve mentioned it already, you need a reliable internet connection
  • An Ethernet cable is also needed
  • If you want to share the connection, you also need a router

When you get the VoIP adapter, you usually get installation instructions with it as well. You connect one end of the Ethernet cable to the router/modem and the other one to the adapter, into the LAN port.

One end of the telephone cable should go into the PHONE port of the adapter and the other one into your phone.

You also need to connect the AC power adapter to the VoIP adapter and that’s it.

You turn everything on and wait for the connection to be established.

If you want to use a VoIP service with your smartphone, tablet, laptop or desktop computer, you don’t need any kind of equipment. All you need is a VoIP provider who offers softphone support. A softphone is a special software that you install on your device to be able to make/receive VoIP calls. There are many examples of apps that you’re using already without realizing that they’re VoIP apps: Skype, WhatsApp and so on.

While you can use these apps for free among VoIP users who have the app installed on their device, if you want to make a VoIP Skype call to an analog phone number for instance, you have to pay for it.

If you are using the VoIP service with just your computer, the maximum of equipment you need is a headset to be able to hear and speak.

If you want to use VoIP in your company, for business purposes, there are several options to choose from. If you own a startup or a small company, the best solution would be a cloud-based VoIP. In this case, you need to use VoIP-enabled phone handsets and routers. Their number would vary depending on your company and its number of employees.

You can also keep your analog phones as well and get the VoIP adapters we mentioned above.

Another way to go is with softphone software and we covered that one as well.

If you have a large business and you have to make phone calls on a frequent basis, you might want to consider a PBX VoIP service. PBX is short for private branch exchange and runs from servers that are placed on premises. This system is more similar to traditional wired office systems.

Types of VoIP phones

If you want to use a VoIP phone, there are several types to choose from: desk phones (they look just like conventional analog phone but they work through the internet), wireless phones, IP conferencing phones, which allow multiple participants to join a phone call.

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