What are VoIP and Internet Calls?
VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) refers to any technology that uses IP networks to provide individuals telephony services. These services may include phone calls, video calls, and text messages. Voice over Internet Protocol calls are better transmitted via the internet; however, some providers prefer using Local Area Networks (LANs). According to the latest report from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), there are over 1.78 million VoIP subscriptions in Arizona as of June 2021.
VoIP and Internet calls mean the same thing. They both refer to voice and multimedia communication using a broadband internet connection instead of a regular (analog) phone line. VoIP calls transmit data as packets with IP protocols rather than traditional circuit transmissions of public switched telephone networks (PSTN).
Unlike a standard phone, a VoIP network allows the user to make or receive calls over a desktop computer, smartphone, or tablet. Voice over Internet Protocols subscribers can call anyone who has a phone number, including local, mobile, long-distance, and international calls. However, this does not apply to all VoIP subscribers, as some providers restrict calls to individuals registered on any VoIP service.
How Do VoIP and Internet Calls Compare to Landline and Cell Phone Calls?
Landlines work by transforming small sound waves into electric energy using a metal disk inside the phone. Generally, electrical energy over wires, and it is the same for landlines. Electric energy travels over wires to another phone, where they are converted back to sound waves.
Unlike landlines, cell phones do not require wires to send voice signals. They convert voice signals into electrical signals with microphones. Cell phones use microchips in the phone to modulate a radio wave using electrical signals, which travel through the air to the closest cell tower. Cell towers serve as antennas routing the calls through local base stations to their destinations. They make it possible for the caller's voice to reach the call recipient
VoIP converts voice signals from a telephone or computer to digital signals that are transmitted over the internet. VoIP calls use IP network connections to send digital signals to its recipient. It allows users to make calls directly from a computer, a special VoIP phone, or a regular phone connected to a special adapter. IP phones can convert sound waves into digital signals using CODECs, which are computer algorithms for compressing audio sounds.
In the United States, VoIP calls are regulated by the Federal Communication Commission (FCC). The FCC ensures that VoIP providers comply with the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act of 1994 (CALEA). When a provider fails to comply with any of the rules, subscribers can file a complaint online or contact 1-888-CALL-FCC(1-888-225-5322).
Note that both traditional and VoIP callers can be identified using reverse phone lookup services.
VoIP calls have the following benefits:
- Affordable: VoIP calls use internet connections for transmissions, making them practically cheaper than traditional phone services.
- Accessibility: Unlike regular phone calls, VoIP calls do not require physical structures to function. VoIP call services are accessible anywhere there is a stable internet connection.
- Flexibility: VoIP networks are incredibly flexible. Users are only limited by available bandwidth regarding the number of phones and calls that can be handled on a VoIP network.
- VoIP involves a short and straightforward installation process.
- With VoIP, individuals have a better chance of reaching live representatives.
- VoIP features some additional modes of communication like video conferencing, faxing, SMS messages, and others.
- VoIP offers in-depth call analytics with regards to productivity and the number of daily VoIP calls.
- VoIP can deliver HD voice quality when there is a good internet connection and high bandwidth.
- VoIP numbers can be used on multiple devices simultaneously.
- Easy phone number porting: VoIP numbers can be ported easily without help from technicians.
Does Arizona Regulate VoIP Providers?
Telecommunications and broadband services in Arizona are under the regulation of the Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC). The ACC regulates most of your telephone services and their quality of service. The commission established certain rules and regulations which phone companies must abide by.
These rules also govern how these companies compete against one another. However, the ACC does not have any jurisdiction over VoIP providers. This means that VoIP calls are not directly under the purview of the ACC. However, the state's Office of the Attorney General ensures that VoIP service providers are not above the law.
What Do You Need for VoIP and Internet Calls?
Internet calls are different from regular phone calls. As such, they require a few pieces of equipment to be successful. Firstly, a broadband (high-speed internet) connection is required. You can get this through a cable modem or high-speed services such as DSL or a local area network. The best VoIP experiences use FTTP or ethernet connections.
As soon as there is a broadband connection, you need a computer, an adaptor, or a specialized phone. Some VoIP services are only compatible with a computer or a special VoIP phone, while others can work with a regular phone connected to a working VoIP adaptor.
An Analog Telephone Adapter (ATA) and a compatible telephone are needed if your VoIP calling method is with a landline. The ATA plugs into either the wall phone socket or a router. If it plugs into a router, then you need a compatible router.
If your VoIP method is with a computer, you will need a laptop or desktop computer, the right software, and a microphone. Softwares, like Skype, Google Talk, and Apple Facetime, are very effective for internet calls. Calls between similar software programs are free, but calling a regular phone number attracts a fee.
Subscribers can also use a mobile phone for VoIP calls. Smartphones are the preferred choice since users can download and install the appropriate applications on them. VoIP compatible apps include Skype, Facetime, Viber, Line, WhatsApp, and Facebook messenger.
These apps facilitate both short-distance and long-distance calls. However, you can only use them if the person you intend to call has the same app fully installed on their phone. Generally, it is a better idea to use Wi-Fi connections for these calls, since using mobile broadband may be expensive.
Are VoIP Numbers Different from Regular Phone Numbers?
VoIP numbers easily pass for a real telephone, but they differ from a regular phone number in the following ways:
- VoIP numbers can have a Direct Inward Dial (DID) phone number accessible to the public.
- Physical location is not a barrier with a VoIP number.
- VoIP phone numbers are not assigned to specific phone lines but specific individuals.
- A VoIP number utilizes data networks, like the internet and internal enterprise LANs (Local Area Networks) to make calls.
- VoIP numbers can be assigned to multiple user-devices and used simultaneously on all the devices.
Can You Make Free Internet Calls?
Anyone can make free calls via the internet, but these calls do not just happen except the individual has the relevant applications. You can make VoIP calls for free through any of the following media:
- PC to PC: Individuals can make free calls via the computer by connecting to another computer using compatible phone call applications installed on both computers.
- App to app: These services are reserved for smartphone or tablet users. It functions only if the recipients have the same applications installed on their devices. This method can not be used to call landlines or other mobile phones that do not have compatible software.
- PC to Phone Applications: These applications allow individuals to make free calls from their PCs to real telephone numbers.App to Phone Software: This facilitates free internet calls from mobile devices to real phone numbers. Users can make phone calls to any number, even landlines and mobile phones that do not have the app installed.