VOIP - Voice over Internet Protocol- Is it really free?

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Voice-over IP, or VOIP, is becoming a hot-topic daily. So let’s explain what that is. A basic session on how information travels across the Internet first though, without the jargon! Data flies around the Internet to your PC, to others PC’s, and anywhere else worldwide in the form of a “packet.” A packet contains data. This is all possible because of the “Internet Protocol” or IP system of controls governing data transfer over the Internet. Now, Voice over IP is simply, your voice, which is turned into data packets, transmitted across the Internet. Completely transparent to you, your voice turns into digital data. So, now that we know what VOIP is, I can hear the questions coming.

If my voice is on the Internet, how is it that people can talk to non-VOIP, or regular telephone users?

Simple. Companies that provide VOIP services have points of presences, or POPs, that connect their VOIP network to the regular ole telephone system. They can change that data back to its normal form, analog, and pass it along like it was never going over the Internet. It’s MUCH more complicated than that, but that’s not why you’re here.

VOIP companies tout unlimited long distance. How can they do that and compete with the big companies?

VOIP is a strange animal. Your normal telephone company has to pay to connect your calls over great distances. Switching and routing, patching and un-patching, all cost lots of dollars. VOIP on the other hand, doesn’t require this because the Internet already does that, and it’s paid for by users who want Internet access. Thusly, VOIP companies can offer this, and still compete. If you use LOTS of long distance, VOIP is definitely something you should look into.

I have dial-up Internet. Can I still have VOIP?

The short answer is NO. VOIP uses a lot of resources, known as bandwidth, to connect calls. VOIP can’t be done on dial-up Internet speeds, it’s just too slow. Most true VOIP companies require that you have a cable or DSL Internet connection. Additionally, satellite Internet, such as DirecWay, are not advisable, due to the delay inherent to any satellite data system.

Is VOIP any good?

If you are a domestic user, why not use it. However, for day-2-day commercial or business purposes, don't touch it with a barge-pole. It is cheap in every sense of the word. Think - what if your  broadband goes down - what happens then to your telephone lines?

Where can I find more information on VOIP?

There is so much information available today, it is advisable to search the Internet via Google, or other search engine, to yield the most up-to-date information.

That's it. Pretty straight-forward, huh? Do some searches on your own and I guarantee you'll see that 60 seconds here is worth reading, rather than 60 hours of searching.

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