Our VoIP FAQ contains the most common generic VoIP questions that we have gathered from users of WhichVoIP since 2005. The answers provided are focused on the residential user for their home phone needs. If you are interested in common questions from a business perspective then we recommend you also check out our Business Questions section.
Look through the questions below to find the one that best matches your question and then click on it to view the answer. Alternatively just browse through all the questions one at a time.
VoIP is an acronym for Voice over Internet Protocol or as commonly stated Voice over IP. Internet Protocol (IP) is the method by which data is sent over the Internet (from computer to computer for example). So, basically, VoIP is the transmission of your voice over an internet connection.
As VoIP uses your internet connection to transmit your voice (analog) over the internet (digital), your voice signal must first be converted into a digital signal that the Internet Protocol (your internet connection) understands. This digital signal of your voice then travels over the internet and is directed to the number you are calling. At the other end, the digital signal is converted back to an analog signal (your voice) so the person you are calling can hear you. The conversion at the other end allows you to speak to anyone with a regular phone number, whether they have VoIP service or regular phone service. Refer to our VoIP Explained page for more detailed information on this topic.
A high speed internet connection is required, such as DSL or Cable Broadband service. To use your existing phone you will need a phone adapter to allow connection to your internet connection. This adapter provides the conversion from your analog voice to the digital signal required for internet transmission. Alternatively, you can purchase a special VoIP phone (often called IP Phone), which can be plugged straight into your internet connection with no phone adapter required. You will also have to sign up for a VoIP Service Provider. Typically, Service Providers will provide the required phone adapter free of charge.
The number of VoIP Service Providers is increasing every week. Most offer various VoIP solutions to suit most peopleís needs, with varying prices and features. For a list of VoIP Service Providers that best suit your needs, and also to access our thousands of user submitted reviews, check out our VoIP Providers and user reviews comparison page.
This is an important question to ask. There are a number of VoIP Service Providers out there and they are increasing every week. Most Service Providers have a selection of plans to choose from and provide various different features, at various different costs. User our residential VoIP providers and user reviews page to find a provider that best suit your needs.
Most plans provided by VoIP Service Providers now allow the user to call any number anywhere in the world, including local numbers, long distance numbers, international numbers, and cell numbers. However, this may depend on the Provider and the VoIP Plan you choose. For a list of VoIP Service Providers that best suit your needs, check out our VoIP Provider comparison page.
Probably the biggest advantage of a VoIP phone service is the cost savings over a traditional phone service. These savings can be substantial, depending on the Service Provider and Plan you choose, and your normal phone usage. Other advantages include feature rich Plans (caller ID, call forwarding, voicemail, call waiting etc), portability (you can take your phone adapter with you and in theory use on any high speed internet connection), and if you have a broadband internet connection you donít have to maintain and pay the additional cost of a phone line just to make phone calls.
One of the main disadvantages of a VoIP phone service is that it may not work during power outages or outages in your high speed internet connection though this can typically be overcome with an Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) for around $50. Other disadvantages include, 911 emergency dialing may not be provided by some Service Providers (rare these days, see our article on E911), you need a high speed internet connection (DSL, cable etc.), and you may not get a directory listing. It should be noted however that VoIP technology is progressing rapidly, and pretty much all of the disadvantages of a VoIP phone service compared with a traditional phone service have been addressed or have workarounds.
Typically yes, but some Service Providers may not support this feature. A great alternative to consider is an Internet Fax service (also known as Online Fax). We have a good guide to faxing with VoIP.
No, not if you are using a phone adapter or a special VoIP phone. However, your high speed internet connection must be active for your VoIP service to work.
Nearly all VoIP Service Providers now offer the option to keep your existing phone number if you wish (referred to as number portability). This may vary between VoIP Provider, so check this before signing up for service.
Yes. Some VoIP Service Providers provide a Number for Life feature. This means that as long as you stay with your Service Provider you can keep your number, if required, even when you move house locally or to another city/state.
Some VoIP Service Providers now offer the customer the option to change their phone number themselves via their Provider web site or by phoning customer service.
Set-up is very simple. Your VoIP Service Provider will provide you with a phone adapter (if using your existing phone). You simply plug this adapter into your internet connection and your phone into the adapter.
There are four possibilities for adding multiple phones onto your VoIP phone service. Click here to read about the four options.
This question comes up a lot and the answer is MAYBE. There are a number of items to consider so we decided to write an article that researches VoIP and home security systems which will hopefully help.
We get this question a lot from our readers. The problem with satellite Internet is the latency involved in sending signals to and from the satellite since it is 22,000 miles away. Latency and jitter are not friends of VoIP and often this can result in poor quality calls. WhichVoIP wrote an article on VoIP over Satellite which is worth reading if you have satellite Internet and are looking at VoIP.
Use the Comment form below to contact us with your question and we will try and respond within 24-48 hours. We might even add your question to our main VoIP FAQ list.
If you continue to scroll down this page you will find many questions asked by our visitors, along with our answers.
Author: Andy Forgrieve
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Use the form below to add your comments/thoughts and to interact with us. All comments will be moderated by WhichVoIP.com before going live. We try to answer all questions within 24 hours.
#40 : Posted by Bjorn Solberg on March 5th, 2014:
My ISP is AT&T. If I drop the landline service, what happens to my DSL service?
-> Response: Normally you can run naked DSL (as it is referred to) - this is DSL without the phone service. Check with AT&T to be sure. Assuming you can do this then you can sign up for any VoIP service.
#39 : Posted by Dan W on February 5th, 2014:
I have both copper lines (for my residential number) and Fiber (for my home business phone number and business fax number). Is there a way to put the three numbers under one VOIP service?
-> Response: Dan our VoIP over Frontier Fiber article may help here. There should be no issue doing this as Fiber tends to provide very high quality Internet service and high throughputs which is perfect for VoIP. You can use one provider for residential and business service or split the business out and use a different provider.
#38 : Posted by Roy on January 30th, 2014:
I have a voip service now. If I sign up for another service can't I just unplug the old box and plug in the new one without porting the number?
-> Response: Unfortunately no, you cannot do that. The phone number is tied to the MAC address of the box so that is essentially what happens when you port the number, the new provider now has your number and it corresponds to the MAC address of their box. So when a call is made (or received) the provider knows where to route it to on the Internet.
However, if both the providers have performed compatibility tests on the model for the box that you have you may be able to keep the hardware (referred to as Bring Your Own Device or BYOD). A new configuration script must be used on the box though so it tries to connect to your new provider.
One final note, make sure you keep your current provider active until the port has been completed.