VoIP Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

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.

VoIP FAQ

Generic and Home VoIP Related Questions and Answers

Look through the questions below to find the one that best matches your question. If you still have unanswered questions then use the comment form at end of this article to ask us directly.

1. What is VoIP?

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.

2. How does VoIP work?

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.

3. What do I need to have to be able to get VoIP service?

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.

4. What Providers are out there?

The number of VoIP companies is increasing every week. Most offer various solutions to suit most peopleís needs, with varying prices and features. For a list of Companies that best suit your needs, and also to access our thousands of user submitted reviews, check out our Provider user reviews and comparison page.

5. How do VoIP Providers Compare?

This is an important question to ask. There are a number of 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. Use our residential providers and user reviews page to find a provider that best suit your needs.

6. Who can I call using my VoIP?

Most plans 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 plan you choose. For a list of Providers that best suit your needs, check out our Provider comparison page.

7. What are some of the advantages of using VoIP?

Probably the biggest advantage of a VoIP 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.

8. What are some of the disadvantages of using VoIP?

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.

9. Will I be able to fax with VoIP?

Typically yes, but some Service Providers may not support this feature. A great alternative to consider is an Online Fax service (also known as Internet Fax). We have a good guide to faxing with VoIP.

10. Will I still be able to use my computer during a phone call?

Yes.

11. Does my computer need to be ON for my phone service to work?

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.

12. Will I be able to keep my existing phone number if I switch to VoIP?

Nearly all 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. It is often a good idea to start with a new phone number first so you can test the service. Once happy with the service, get the provider to port your number over. This can save a lot of hassle.

13. What happens if I move house, will I be able to keep my phone number?

Yes. Most 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. This is one of the many advantages of VoIP, your service is very portable because all calls are handled in the cloud using the Internet. One important point though, if you move home, remember to log into your account on the provider's website and update the emergency E-911 information. This is vital so emergency services automatically know where to go if you call 911. After all, you don't want them going to your old home 1500 miles away! If you also need a local number for your new home, for example let's say it is outside of your old area code, you can buy a virtual number for this new area code. Then simply use this virtual number when you give it out to new friends so their calls are all local calls. The incoming calls for both numbers will be routed to your phone by your VoIP provider. Virtual numbers are usually less than $4 per month.

14. What if I decide to change my phone number after I have VoIP?

Some Providers now offer the customer the option to change their phone number themselves via their Provider web site or by phoning customer service.

15. How difficult is it to set-up?

Set-up is very simple. Your 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.

16. How do I add multiple phones to my service?

There are four possibilities for adding multiple phones onto your phone service. Click here to read about the four options.

17. Will VoIP work with a Home Security System?

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.

18. Will VoIP work with Satellite Internet?

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.

19. I travel a lot, can I still use VoIP?

Yes you can. Another big plus with VoIP is the ability to travel and still receive calls to your home or business line. There are a number of ways to do this. For example, the most simple is call forwarding, which means you can forward all incoming calls to a number of your choice (e.g. a cell phone), sometimes several numbers (simultaneous ring). Another option is just to take your VoIP ATA device with you and plug any analog telephone into the ATA (note there may be International considerations here regarding the telephone). Finally, many providers have soft phones for computers or even better, Android and iPhone Apps that you can install onto your smart phone. Now calls to your home number ring at home and also ring on your smart phone. The caller ID is usually passed through too, so it is just like being at home.

Have a More Specific Question Not Covered Above? Just Ask Us!

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.

Published: by WhichVoIP


Related Articles for Further Reading:


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WhichVoIP Visitor Comments

#98 : Posted by Jay Pitzer

We have to have a land line in order to have cost efficient internet service since we don't have cable access or cost efficient satellite available. Will VoIP be possible for us?

-> Response: Presumably your Internet is DSL, hence the reason you need to use your landline (i.e. Internet goes over your landline). Naked DSL is when you use the landline for Internet but not the actual landline phone service and then you can use VoIP instead. It is very common but worth checking with your DSL provider to make sure no surprises (i.e. hidden charges).

 

#97 : Posted by Jeff

Thinking about changing voip home service companies. The quality of the one I have is OK, but I get 8 or more spam calls every single day since joining them. Have emailed them about this but got no response. Which voip providers offer some kind of help with this.

-> Response: Which provider are you using currently? The reason I ask is you should be able to log onto their online portal and enter numbers to block from calling.
Nearly all VoIP providers support Call Blocking.

 

#96 : Posted by Donna Campbell

I have a land line in the 713 (Houston, TX) area code. I have moved to a suburb north of Houston with a 281 area code. I want to keep the phone number I have used for 30 years. Can I transfer my land line to Voip and then set it up at the apartment?

-> Response: Yes there should be no issue doing this and keeping your number. Just make sure you check with your new VoIP provider first but most of the time the number can be ported successfully, there are a few corner cases but they are rare.
You could even get a 281 number too so people can also call you on that number (i.e. both numbers reach your phone).

 

#95 : Posted by Lynnette C Walcheski

I am switching from satellite internet to broadband and I have a landline phone which is currently costing us an average of $50 per month. Can I switch to VOIP phone service?

-> Response: Yes you should be able to save a lot of money each month.
What I would recommend is you run our VoIP test once you have your new broadband connection up and running just to verify that VoIP will work well over your new internet connection. VoIP does not do well over satellite internet by the way.

 

#94 : Posted by Jim

We plan to have internet at our second home. Do we need to have a phone number there? This is a seasonal (winter) home. Are there say 3 best plans for 2 homes to choose from? If you leave one area to go to the other, do you retain the local numbers upon return?

-> Response: Actually you could bring the VoIP adapter (and phone) with you when you go to your second home, that's what I would recommend as it is the most cost effective.
Regarding phone numbers you could actually add a virtual number. For example let's say you were based in Seattle and have a winter home in Palm Springs. You could have a main number that is a Seattle number and also buy a low cost number for Palm Springs for incoming calls. So then people in Seattle and people in Palm Springs can call you using either number and each gets routed to wherever your adapter and phone are.
The adapter (called an ATA - Analog Telephone Adapter) is a small device that converts an analog phone to a digital stream that goes over the Internet. VoIP providers sell them for around $20 typically.

 

#93 : Posted by J. R.

Does this work with fiber optic internet service? I'm moving from West Virginia to Florida in about 9 months. Can VoIP move with me?

-> Response: VoIP does work over Fiber Optic Internet services (FiOS), in fact any high speed Internet service (DSL, Cable, FiOS etc.) will work and yes VoIP can move with you.

 

#92 : Posted by Marianne Hunt

How does this connect to the internet? Is it easy to do or does someone have to come out to install this service and explain to me how to use it?

-> Response: Normally by connecting an Ethernet cable (usually supplied with the VoIP ATA box or IP phone) to your Internet modem. It's very straightforward providing your Internet modem is nearby.

 

#91 : Posted by Ellen Williams

How may extensions can you have in a home and what does it hook up to?

-> Response: Most people use cordless phones as a way to get more handsets scattered around the house. The base connects to a VoIP ATA box that the provider sends you, which also connects to your Internet.

 

#90 : Posted by Harley Bennet

We have Dish satellite service with no router; we have one (1) telephone number that connects to four(4) different telephones two ( 2) of which are wireless. We also have caller ID display on our television, which is a hard wire connection.
Will this system work?

-> Response: VoIP does not work too well over satellite Internet due to the latencies involved.
I would recommend running our VoIP test on our satellite page first as it will give you some indication as to whether this has a chance of working.

 

#89 : Posted by Peter Dominguez

My land line is used for Fax only. Can this device allow to be used for both regular phone and Fax? Will there be privacy in this device transmission? Since our on line service is not that safe for fear of hackers by third parties is their a big problem?

-> Response: Yes most providers support fax detect so you can do audio and fax over the internet and through the adapter. Alternatively try Internet fax and remove the need for a fax machine altogether.
Most providers encrypt the phone service so it is very secure.

 

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