VoIP FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)
Many people are hearing about VoIP for the
very first time. If you are unfamiliar with what
VoIP means, you are not alone. Our VoIP FAQ
answers all the most common questions people
have about VoIP in easy to understand terms. If
you have additional questions you would like to
see in our VoIP FAQ, we welcome you to suggest
them to us!
Q. What is VoIP?
A. VoIP is an acronym that stands for "Voice
over Internet Protocol".
Regular telephone companies use dedicated phone
lines and infrastructure to provide you with
phone service; resulting in costly monthly
service fees, long distance rates and features.
With VoIP your phone calls are routed through
your internet connection, thus eliminating the
infrastructure overheads required to route
calls. This results in significantly lower
operating costs for VoIP service providers,
which is in turn passed on to the consumer.
Q. What things do I need in order to use
A. This depends on the VoIP service provider you
choose. Some require as little as a program
installed on your computer a set of speakers and
a microphone. While others require you to use a
router or VoIP modem device (typically given to
you by the company for free or at a nominal cost
when you sign up).
Q. What is the sound quality like?
A. Generally, VoIP phones have very good sound
quality. The sound quality of VoIP phones is
very much determined by its environment. There
are a number of factors that can positively or
negatively influence the sound quality of a VoIP
call. The most critical factor is your internet
connectivity, meaning the size of your internet
connection and how much free bandwidth is
available for use by your VoIP phone. If you
have a small connection, and you are downloading
multiple large files at the same time, this
could negatively affect the sound quality of a
call. While having a large capacity internet
connection with no other internet activity could
result in an excellent, crystal clear call that
is as good or better than a regular phone.
Q. How reliable is VoIP based phones compared to
A. This largely depends on the quality of your
internet connection. Typically VoIP can be very
reliable, if the equipment and internet
connection available on both ends of the call
are of good quality. Just as
with regular phones, buying bargain no-name equipment
and service providers can result in mediocre or
Q. Does my computer need
to be on to use VoIP?
A. This usually depends on the type of VoIP
service you are using and the equipment it
depends on. Typically most are independent from
your computer and thus do not need to have it
on. They rely on equipment that is external to
your computer. However, some "soft phones"
require the computer to be on and for you to
place the call through a special software
program that resembles a phone, except it is on
your computer screen.
Q. Does a VoIP phone
work the same way as a regular phone?
A. In almost every aspect it is identical in
typical day to day use. The way you call people,
and the way others call you and how you answer
the phone are all the same. In terms of
similarity to regular phones, some VoIP phones
are so similar, if placed along side regular
phones most people would never even be able to
tell which one is which.
Q. Can I call all
the same people I talked to on regular phones?
A. You can contact all of your family and
friends that have a phone number, this includes
people with phone numbers on the regular
telephone network, people on other VoIP services
and cell phones.
Q. Would people be call
me the same way they would with a regular phone?
A. Yes, the way others call you on a VoIP phone
is typically identical to a regular phone line.
The exception to this may be "soft phones" when
a phone number is not assigned to your account
and only soft phone to soft phone calls are
achievable. Essentially, if you are assigned a
phone number for your VoIP service, others can
call you the same way they normally would have,
if you had a regular phone.
Q. Can I use my
internet connection while talking on a VoIP
phone, does it affect the call quality?
A. You can definitely use your internet
connection while talking on a VoIP phone.
However, this is dependant on what sorts of
tasks you are performing on the internet. If you
are simply browsing web pages, this will rarely
affect VoIP call quality. If you are downloading
multiple large files, this may affect call
quality. It depends on how much internet
connection bandwidth is available to VoIP after
taking into account the other data you are
sending to and from your computer.
Q. What kind of internet connection do I
need for VoIP?
A. Dial up internet connections are not
recommended for VoIP. The larger the internet
connection, the better the sound quality of VoIP
calls. 1MB of bandwidth would be a good minimum
for effective VoIP communications. Many popular
Cable and DSL providers offer 1MB connections
and above. It is typical for Cable and DSL
providers to offer a range of service tiers
ranging such as 1MB, 3MB and 6MB at various
price points. While a 1MB may be suitable for
some, depending on the quality of their internet
provider's network, some may require more
bandwidth as dictated by their experiences with
VoIP on the internet connection they have. Also
keep in mind internet provider network
congestion may also contribute to lower internet
connectivity speeds and or bandwidth that may
adversely affect your VoIP call quality.
Can I transfer my existing regular phone number
A. While most VoIP services allow for you to
transfer your current regular phone number, some
VoIP services may not allow for this,
particularly "soft phones" which work as an
application on your computer. It is recommended
you check with the VoIP service provider you are
interested in to confirm this.
Q. Can I
dial 911 in emergencies with a VoIP phone?
A. The availability to use the 911 service
greatly depends on the VoIP service provider you
choose. Some do NOT have 911 emergency calling,
others offer limited 911 dialing that does NOT
send phone number of address information to the
dispatch operator, while others offer enhanced
911 that functions very similarly to regular
phones by sending your phone number and address
information to the dispatch operator. It is
important that you check the level of 911
service available from a VoIP provider to
determine whether you are adequately covered in
the event of an emergency. NOTE VOIP PHONES DO
NOT WORK DURING POWER FAILURES.
services like 411 directory work with VoIP?
A. This is something that is dependant on the
VoIP service provider. While many of the more
larger and popular VoIP service providers have
these services, it is not available in all
Q. Do I need to contact my regular phone
company to inform them I will use VoIP?
A. No, you do not need to inform your regular
phone company that you will be using VoIP.
Q. Can I use a VoIP phone during a power
A. No, VoIP phones cannot be used during a power
failure, as most internet connectivity providers
do not provider powered lines to transmit data
during power failure.
Q. How will VoIP
affect my internet bandwidth usage?
A. While it is difficult to estimate the exact
amount of bandwidth you would use with VoIP in a
given time frame, it is recommended that you
monitor your bandwidth usage in the first week
or month of use to gauge your usage. Many
internet service providers place maximum
download and upload limits on their service. So
it is advisable to check your bandwidth usage
regularly during your initial use of VoIP so
that you can better gauge how it impacts your
Q. If I have a VoIP phone number, will it
be listed in the phone book?
A. Typically your phone number will NOT be
listed in the telephone book if you have the
number through a VoIP provider.
DSL goes through phone lines, does that mean its
better for VoIP?
A. No. Whether your internet connection goes
through a standard phone socket or not does not
impact the performance or reliability of your
VoIP calls. VoIP by DSL, Cable, even Wi-Fi
performs the same, given the same about of
bandwidth and network congestion.
Q. Is it
really true that VoIP can be cheaper than using
a regular phone line?
A. Absolutely. Many of the popular VoIP packages
offer an incredible assortment of included
calling features, unlimited North American
calling, and low per minute rates for
international calls. Similar services would be
significantly more from many if not all regular
phone service providers.
Q. Will I need to
upgrade and buy new VoIP phones as the
A. While it is difficult to give a firm answer,
the most likely scenario is that you will be
able to enjoy many years of service from the
VoIP hardware you purchase or are provided from
your VoIP carrier. The likelihood of needing to
upgrade the hardware in the near future is slim
Q. Can I select an area code for
my VoIP phone number, even if I do not live in
A. Yes, some VoIP service providers allow you to
use area codes other than the ones designated
for your area. Check the availability of the
feature with the VoIP provider you are
interested in using.
Q. Do fax machines
work on a VoIP line?
A. Yes, many VoIP service providers offer fax
related features for their service plans. Some
even offer their VoIP plans with an additional
dedicated fax line either included or for a
small additional cost.
Q. When I travel,
can I bring my VoIP hardware with me and use it
on the road?
A. Yes, since VoIP uses the internet to transmit
voice data, you do not need to be bound to a
specific termination in order to use VoIP
service. As long as you have all of your
necessary VoIP hardware / software and are in a
country that supports the power and
compatibility requirements of your hardware, you
can use VoIP just about anywhere.