Internet Phone Improving Options
[Originally published in The Coloradoan on 6/7/12]
You may have heard the catchy commercials or seen the late-night infomercials. These days, it’s hard to escape advertisers extolling the virtues of Internet phone service.
You may ask yourself, “How can I make phone calls through an Internet connection?” Using a technology called VoIP, you now have the power to do just that.
VoIP stands for “Voice over Internet Protocol” and allows your home phone to use a network connection and become like your computer, in a similar way that smartphones are computers with phone capabilities.
In 2004, the market for broadband Internet access had grown so rapidly that VoIP connections became in high demand for businesses and homes. Since that time, VoIP use has exploded.
“Because of the bandwidth efficiency and low costs that VoIP technology can provide, businesses are migrating from traditional copper-wire telephone systems to VoIP systems to reduce their monthly phone costs,” Michael Dosch and Steve Church wrote in an Axia Audio magainze article.
VoIP takes an analog signal and converts it to digital, providing better quality phone calls and improved functionality to your phone. At major corporations, VoIP phones provide an easy, digital directory from within the phone itself.
For home users with at least a decent Internet connection, VoIP phone calls provide high quality at typically lower rates than standard phone lines. The cost factor is by far the greatest advantage for anyone looking to move to VoIP, as a phone using such service will almost always be less expensive than its traditional counterpart.
However, one major disadvantage to VoIP home service is that there are not standardized 911 or 411 services available. Some companies have started to introduce these important services, but not all. So, if this is important to you, check with the VoIP provider before you sign up.
Another major disadvantage to VoIP phone service is security. Since the service uses your Internet connection, the IP address you use for phone calls is susceptible to hackers’ attempts to disrupt your service.
Whether VoIP phone service is right for you or your business is hard to say, but the benefits keep mounting as the technology of the equipment and service continues to improve.
Stu Crair is the owner and lead trainer at The Fort Collins Digital Workshop, providing digital arts and computer training instruction in Fort Collins. Call him at (970) 980-8091 or email stu@ fcdigitalworkshop.com.