What is a VoIP Call?

VoIP calls are low-cost calls placed over an Internet connection. VoIP calls tend to have no long-distance charges.

VoIP calls are calls that are made with IP-compatible hardware or software over a broadband Internet connection. IP-compatible hardware can be made by fitting an adapter on a traditional phone, or it can be an IP phone that is built for use with IP networks. VoIP calls can also be made with software applications on mobile phones and computers.

The primary benefit of VoIP calls is to have lower monthly telephone rates and low per-minute rates.

How VoIP Calls Work

A traditional phone call that travels over the public switched telephone network (PSTN) racks up charges every time it switches from one provider's network to the next, which can be a lot of switching for a long-distance call. A VoIP call bypasses the PSTN and travels over an IP network, where there are no charges for going between networks. This allows VoIP service providers to offer low rates on monthly plans and per-minute charges regardless of whether they VoIP calls are local or long distance.

There are a variety of ways to harness VoIP so you can start making cheap VoIP calls:

The primary benefit of VoIP calls is to have lower monthly telephone rates and low per-minute rates.

  • Residential VoIP service
  • Business VoIP service with a hosted PBX
  • Mobile VoIP service
  • Softphone use
Residential VoIP Service

If you want to save more money on your home phone bills then making VoIP calls from home is a good move. Residential VoIP service is $10-$30 a month and covers calls anywhere within the continental US and Canada. Residential VoIP call plans come in unlimited minutes and limited minutes flavors.

International calls are also cheap VoIP calls. Providers generally offer around 60 minutes of international calls on domestic plans, but there are international plans with large minute allotments for people that often call abroad.

Business VoIP Service

Business VoIP service is the most robust application of VoIP. Deploying VoIP in the workplace will:

  • Significantly lower long distance and international rates
  • Unify voice and data communications
  • Provide sophisticated call features
  • Create portable business phone systems

Read more about business VoIP systems here.

Mobile VoIP Calls

A VoIP call can be made over a cellphone or smartphone with mobile VoIP software applications. Mobile VoIP calls are transmitted over the 3G, 4G, or WiFi networks, so mobile VoIP calls do not use minutes from your cellular plan. If a mobile VoIP call is sent over a 3G or 4G network, bandwidth from the data plan is consumed instead of minutes. When a mobile VoIP call is sent over the WiFi network, the VoIP call is basically free. A WiFi VoIP call does not use cellular minutes from the calling plan or bandwidth from the data plan.

Softphone VoIP Calls

A softphone is a software based phone. It's an application that uses your computer as a phone to make cheap VoIP calls. Skype and GoogleTalk are popular softphones. The interface often resembles a phone handset so it is intuitive and easy to navigate. Softphones can either use the speaker and microphone of the computer or a VoIP headset for audio capabilities. Softphones downloaded to a laptop will make your residential or business VoIP service portable.

Free VoIP Calls

VoIP calls are about as low cost as you can get, but there are some who prefer no cost at all. Free VoIP calls are available, but you may have to jump through different hoops to achieve a free VoIP call depending on who or how you are calling.

Mobile VoIP calls made over the WiFi network are free.

In-network calls, such as Skype-to-Skype VoIP calls and Gizmo-to-Gizmo VoIP calls are always free in VoIP service. Calling outside the network to a landline or another VoIP client will result in charges though. And Google Voice will let you call any US number for free from your computer, but international calls are charged.

Services like JaJah and Vyke offer prepaid services where you deposit $10 into an account and the call rates are so low calls are virtually free. Vyke offers a Vyke Zone of 25 countries that are billed at $.0.25 an hour.

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