Save with VoIP
If the cost savings potential of VoIP services has caught your interest but you're not sure about all of the steps involved in making the switch then read on for further details.
Savings Potential with VoIP services
International and Long Distance charges: One of the main benefits of VoIP service is that international and long distance voip charges are much cheaper. Depending on the package or service that you select, you will either get unlimited or a set number of minutes for North America (US & Canada) long distance calling.
Overseas long distance rates are also significantly cheaper from VoIP providers than traditional phone companies, although the differences between the providers are vast. It is not uncommon to have differences in calling rates of up to 1000% depending on your call destination. If you make regular international calls then it would be very wise to choose your provider based on their package costs and international call rates. Use the search on this website (www.myvoipprovider.com) to make the comparison, to review providers and make your selection.
Most VoIP providers like Jive have free in-network calling. What this means is that if you call anyone using the same provider, regardless of their geographic location, the call is free and doesn't count against your monthly long distance minutes.
If you plan on connecting more than two phone lines to your VoIP package, you will need two telephone adapter devices. In order to connect both devices to a single broadband connection, you will also need a router. A router can also be used to connect more than one computer to your broadband connection and will not be provided by your VoIP provider. Use this speed test to check the suitability of your broadband connection.
VoIP technology makes possible a feature called a virtual phone number. With this feature, you can set-up your phone number to have an area code for the city of your choice. This could be useful to set-up a local business presence or to just save even more on your long distance charges.
Your VoIP service can also save you on long distance charges when you travel. You can take your telephone and VoIP Phone Adapter with you when you travel and plug them in wherever there is a broadband internet connection. Alternatively, some VoIP providers have what is called soft phone software available. You can download and install this software on your laptop and then use it to make long distance calls anywhere there is broadband internet.
Additional Lines: Adding additional lines to your VoIP service can be done online, via your VoIP service provider's website. The process is instant, simple, usually free and best of all nobody from the telephone company has to come to your house or business premises. Additional lines are also cheaper than POTS (Plain Old Telephone Service) lines. Fax lines are usually included in small business packages and are less expensive than POTS lines as an add-on. The monthly fee for a Toll-free number for your business is also significantly lower from a VoIP provider.
Cheaper Bundles: VoIP packages generally have lower monthly costs than POTS lines and usually include more calling features (see Calling Features article for more details). VoIP also makes available more advanced calling features, such as an auto-attendant for your business, at lower costs. With cable and existing phone companies climbing into the VoIP services industry, you will soon be able to have your cable TV, broadband internet and VoIP telephone service all in one bundle. This will likely result in additional savings and make possible some very interesting synergistic features.
Initial Requirements for VoIP services
All you need to make the switch from your traditional phone line to a VoIP service is a broadband internet connection. You can use your current telephone for your VoIP line and your VoIP provider will include everything else you need. Your VoIP provider will provide you with a device called an Analogue Phone Adapter or ATA. You can think of this adapter as a hub for both your internet service and your phone. You plug in your broadband internet connection and PC into this adapter using ethernet cable. You then plug into your existing telephone to the adapter using regular phone cable.
Selecting a VoIP solutions Provider
Price: There is no doubt about it, VoIP can save you a lot of money over your current phone service. You can save on international and long distance rates, monthly package costs and add on calling features. The price should not be your only deciding factor however.
E-911 Service: When deciding between VoIP providers, you should make sure that their service comes with E-911 service. 911 service can differ between different VoIP providers so make sure that the provider you select offers E-911 service. This is the same level of 911 service that you currently have on your traditional phone line. Have a look at the 911 Service article for more details on VoIP 911 service.
Calling Features: Most VoIP providers like ITP have bundle calling features such as conference calling, call waiting and caller ID with their packages. In addition, VoIP technology makes possible several new, innovative features that providers can include in their packages (see Calling Features article for more details). Having these features included in a bundle rather than paying for them as an extra, as you would with a POTS (Pain Old Telephone Service) provider, can save you a significant fraction of your phone bill. You should take this into consideration when deciding on a VoIP provider.
Making the Transition to a VoIP service
Keeping Your Existing Phone Number: Most VoIP providers will allow you to keep your existing phone number when you switch to their service. This is called LNP (Local Number Portability) and is often dependant on the state/province you live in. You should always double check with a provider before you switch.
Using Your Existing Phone: You will always be able to use your existing phone when you make the switch to a VoIP provider. Residential VoIP works by connecting your phone to your broadband connection using a phone adapter. With some VoIP providers however, some of the calling features may not be compatible with your existing telephone. The caller ID function and voicemail indicator are two features known to have compatibility issues with certain telephones. It would be a good idea to ask your VoIP provider if your handset is compatible with these features before you switch.
Connecting Your VoIP Service to Your Existing Wiring: One inconvenient aspect to VoIP service is that you must connect any phones you want to use to your Phone Adapter. There is a solution for this however that allows you to use the existing telephone wiring in your house for your VoIP service:
1. Disconnect the POTS telephone wires coming in from the telephone pole to the phone box on the side of your house. Warning: if you don't disconnect these wires, you may damage your Phone Adapter.
2. Setup your VoIP Phone Adapter as you usually would.
3. Connect your Phone Adapter to any telephone outlet in your house using a standard telephone cable.
4. You should now be able to plug a phone into any telephone outlet to use your VoIP service.