An Internet phone looks and acts like a regular phone. However, it does not provide for communications over traditional telephone lines. Instead, it connects to the Internet, sending your voice via the World Wide Web. Internet phones operate through Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) technology, allowing callers to toss their traditional landline phones. Instead of requiring standard phone jacks and traditional phone wiring, Internet phones require broadband Internet service and a cable or Digital subscriber line (DSL) modem.
Traditional telephones work via the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN). The PSTN is a private network that provides for a telephone connection using standard phone jacks. For years, this network has been relied on for obtaining landline service through local telephone companies. Today, however, callers have another option. They can bypass both the PSTN and their local telephone companies, choosing to place calls entirely over the Internet.
To use a VoIP phone, callers need to secure services from a VoIP service provider. The VoIP company will typically provide the customer with a telephony adapter. This adapter is a small device used to plug into a broadband modem. A telephony adapter’s purpose is changing electrical phone pulses into Internet Protocol (IP) packets. The IP packets travel over the Internet, allowing callers to participate in regular telephone conversations.
With an Internet phone, using the telephone is no different than using a landline; just the network is different. Users can make and receive phone calls in the normal fashion. VoIP service providers assert that there is no noticeable difference in sound quality. However, it is possible to experience choppy voice quality, similar to a poor cell phone connection, occasionally. Usually, this occurs when there is heavy traffic on the network and is only temporary.
A downside of using an Internet phone is its reliance on electricity. VoIP phones connect through broadband modems. When the power goes out and the modem fails to work, these phones are unavailable. This can be a major concern in emergency situations. Fortunately, this issue can be eliminated by using a universal power supply (UPS), enabling your phone connection to stay up and running when the power goes out.
Another issue with VoIP phone service is the availability of 911 dialing. Typically, VoIP service companies do provide support for 911 calls. However, some services route 911 calls differently than they are sent via landline phones. Furthermore, with some services, the name and address of the caller is not displayed at the 911 call center.
Despite its differences from landline phone technology, many individuals find the VoIP phone a viable and even preferable option. Internet phone service is usually cheaper that landline phone service. The cost is less for local, long distance, and international calls. Internet phone users may even save on taxes. Furthermore, calls to other VoIP phone users, within the same VoIP service network, are often placed and received for free.