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What is VoIP? Voice over IP Explained

VoIP is a call established between two devices via an internet connection, and is short for Voice over Internet Protocol. The innovations in communication tech have allowed people to interact with each other with minimal delays, despite both participants living thousands of miles away from each other. Here’s how it works.

Charles Whitmore

Charles Whitmore

What is VoIP? Voice over IP Explained

How does VoIP work?

VoIP works by using a broadband internet connection instead of a landline. The method of connection isn’t important, only the strength. Using ethernet cables is recommended over Wi-Fi due to the guaranteed stability of the cable. If, however, your Wi-Fi is strong and stable, there’s no reason you can’t rely on it for VoIP. Functionally, Voice over IP phones have all the features of a landline.

To kickstart an online call, you’ll need the help of VoIP service providers. Fortunately, some VoIP providers are already household names. Skype, Zoom, Discord and Microsoft Teams are some of the most common providers. Many providers also give the user an option to send instant messages. Alternatively, common messaging apps like WhatsApp provide VoIP capabilities.

Firstly, you need to connect to the internet via LAN (local area network) or Wi-Fi first. Once you have internet access, you can treat the online call like a normal phone call. Type in a number, email address, or username, then your service providers establish a call. Rather than the electrical signals traveling along a grounded copper wire, they’re instead converted to data packets and received and converted via the VoIP provider. You can make and receive phone calls just like grounded phone lines.

VoIP benefits

Compared to landline telephone calls, which are restricted by the nature of their installation, VoIP calls can be made on the fly so long as there’s an internet connection. Most VoIP service providers offer both mobile phone and desktop apps. A landline is unmovable, grounded and requires a “hard phone”. A VoIP phone system needs only a microphone, normally built into most communication devices. This technology does away with any limitations a traditional phone system may have.

VoIP features and advantages

  • Cheaper than a landline. Landlines charge for making and taking incoming calls to remote locations and different countries. Voice over Internet Protocol, however, has no such limits. All it needs is for both participants to have online capabilities.
  • Mobility. So long as the internet connection is strong and stable, calls can be made anywhere. VoIP providers supply users communications services wherever you are, connection depending.
  • Versatile. Most VoIP services come bundled with instant messaging features. A landline is only ever a landline.

The disadvantages of VoIP

  • Requires an internet connection. The reliance on having a stable enough internet connection can also work against Voice over Internet Protocol. If you’re somewhere remote that doesn’t get a strong connection, a VoIP system will be frustrating and nigh impossible.
  • Reliant on a power supply. If your home suffers from a power cut, that means your router goes down, too. Without a working router, online calls are impossible. So long as the landline provider wasn’t affected by a power outage too, your landline should still be operational.
  • Security. Tapping a physical phone line would need a lot of equipment and access to certain phone line facilities. If you conduct online phone calls over an unsecure internet connection, there’s a chance that you could get snoopers listening in on your calls.

Who is the best VoIP provider?

Finding the best VoIP provider for you depends entirely on how you’ll be using the service. Is the VoIP for business or recreational purposes?

If recreational, then the options could be overwhelming. Something like Discord is perfect for online gamers because it allows integration with Valve’s Steam library. It also allows instant messaging and creating specific chat rooms dedicated to niche fandoms. Similarly, Skype is an incredibly easy service to use and perfect for less tech-savvy users.

When it comes to businesses and working environments, you need to find a provider that is simultaneously cheap and secure. If your business is reliant on the technology, then finding a provider that has a 24-hour customer support line must be a priority. Many online phone services even provide video conferencing functionality to help with important business calls. A business VoIP will typically cost a lot more than someone using a service for personal use.

Do you need extra VoIP equipment?

All Voice over Internet Protocol needs to function is a router with a stable connection to the internet, a microphone or headset, and whichever VoIP software you’ve chosen. No extra devices need to be installed for the service to work.

If you’re calling from a cell phone, all you need is the device you’re calling from. Just treat the VoIP call like a normal phone call. VoIP phone systems will handle the rest. A high speed internet connection will certainly help the call stability.

If you want to enhance your VoIP experience, a high speed broadband connection will certainly make things more stable. VoIP “hard phones”, similar to a landline phone, can also be implemented with a device or computer.

VoiP phone system and VoIP services cost

A Voice over Internet Protocol system can help automate certain procedures in a business. A phone system that relies on online cloud technology, like some IP phone services, can automatically induce call routing and transfer calls to the correct departments without need of human direction.

Depending on the service provider, users can expect to pay anywhere between $20-30 per month per user. Please be aware that any prices shown are subject to change, but the prices we’re displaying are a general overview of what to expect. To set up a VoIP system with unlimited domestic calling, international calls, call forwarding and a phone book holding a plethora of business phone numbers, it could cost in the tens of thousands.

The price breakdown is a combination of device costs, initial setup costs, and purchasing the correct software licenses. In general, the more devices needed, the heavier the costs.

Can you use a VPN with VoIP?

It’s always best to be proactive rather than reactive with your cybersecurity. If you want to avoid snoopers potentially listening in on your VoIP calls, then make sure you connect to a VPN before starting the call. NordVPN encrypts your connection traffic by hiding your IP address, which increases your security and privacy on the internet.

Securing your internet connection takes little more than a click of a button. Before you make that VoIP call, merely hop onto the NordVPN app, and tap “Quick Connect.” That’s it. Now your connection is protected with next-level encryption. Hackers will quickly move on to easier targets once they realize the depth of your protection. NordVPN is the best choice when it comes to get a VPN for Skype, Discord or Microsoft Teams.

VoIP FAQs

Does a VoIP call have better quality than a landline call?

The quality of an online call depends on the quality of the internet. You should only be attempting a VoIP call if you know you have a stable connection. There are some ways in which call quality can be improved, such as having a higher quality headset.

Will I still be able to use my computer if I’m on a VoIP call?

One of the main advantages of VoIP calls is that you don’t have to dedicate your full attention to the call. Discord, for example, specifically allows players to game together while maintaining a call. It doesn’t matter if your service provider is on a computer or mobile device, you’ll still be able to use different functions while staying on the phone call.

Can I integrate my current phone number with a VoIP provider?

Depending on the service provider, many will allow you to use your phone number as your main point of contact in the software.


Charles Whitmore
Charles Whitmore Charles Whitmore
Charles is a content writer with a passion for online privacy and freedom of knowledge. A technophile with a weakness for full Smart Home integration – he believes everyone should strive to keep up-to-date with their cybersec.