What are VoIP and Internet Calls?
VoIP stands for Voice over Internet Protocol. It is a technology that supports the delivery of telephone services over IP networks. Broadband connections and local area networks (LANs) are typical examples of IP networks for excellent VoIP experience. According to the latest report from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), there are about 3.1 million VoIP subscriptions in Georgia as of June 2021.
VoIP and Internet calls are the same. They refer to the use of broadband internet connections to deliver telephone services. VoIP facilitates the transmission of voice calls, video calls, and text messages to called parties over the internet. Unlike the circuit-switching technology used in public switched telephone networks (PSTN), VoIP transmits calls as data packets.
How Do VoIP and Internet Calls Compare to Landline and Cell Phone Calls?
Landlines transmit phone calls by converting sound waves from voice calls into electrical signals. These signals are borne through telephone exchanges by copper wires and are then changed back to sound waves when they reach their destinations.
Cell phones change sound waves into electrical signals. These signals, transmitted over radio waves, are converted back into sound waves at the call recipients’ ends. Electric signals from callers are beamed onto the nearest base stations and then routed to call recipients. Base stations are massive towers with fixed antennas that route radio waves that deliver phone calls. These stations typically increase masts’ call volume by reusing the same band of radio frequencies without interference. They achieve these by employing grid patterns where a specific grid covers a certain number of phones. Each mast then routes calls from the phones within its grid.
VoIP calls convert sound waves into digital signals and transfer them as packets over an internet connection. This technology employs specialized equipment like ATAs, softphones, and IP telephones to make internet calls. IP phones can connect to modems and routers directly via Ethernet connections. They use basic computer algorithms called audio CODECS to convert sound waves into digital signals and back to sound. Softphones are software that enables computers and other internet-enabled devices to deliver telephone services over the internet.
The benefits of VoIP calls over landline and cell phone calls include:
- Low costs - VoIP systems are internet-enabled. They do not run on large infrastructures as obtainable in traditional telephone systems, hence offering VoIP users relatively low call costs and free calls. The fact that many states do not regulate VoIP service also contributes to its cheap calling rates.
- Increased accessibility – VoIP users can place calls from anywhere, provided there are reliable internet connections.
- Flexibility: Devices such as smartphones, tablets, computers, and even landlines (with ATAs) can make VoIP calls. Employees of any organization who work remotely can engage with one another from any device of their choice using VoIP calls.
- Scalability: VoIP users have the freedom to expand the number of phone connections or users on their systems by increasing their current bandwidths. They do not need physical phones as would for regular telephone systems.
- Portability - VoIP users can retain their phone numbers regardless of changes in their locations. VoIP numbers are not fixed to specific devices or area codes.
It is also possible to use reverse phone lookup services to retrieve identifying information linked with VoIP numbers.
Does Georgia Regulate VoIP Providers?
Georgia Public Service Commission (PSC) does not regulate VoIP and other IP-enabled service providers as per state laws. The PSC, however, oversees intrastate investor-owned telecommunications services providers. They help review and resolve consumers' complaints while also protecting residents against unfair business practices.
What Do You Need for VoIP and Internet Calls?
A reliable internet connection is required to make VoIP calls. To enjoy excellent internet call quality, you can use Full Fiber to the Premises (FTTP) or Ethernet connections. Other internet call requirements are dependent on your VoIP call preferences.
To set up a VoIP system on a landline, you need an Analog Telephone Adapter (ATA) and any compatible telephone. The ATA plugs into a wall phone socket or directly to a router to establish an internet connection.
To set up a VoIP system on a computer, you need a desktop or laptop with appropriate VoIP software like Skype, Google Talk, or FaceTime installed. You will also need a headset or a set of speakers and a microphone. To enjoy free VoIP calls, the call recipients must also have the same software installed on their devices. However, calls made to regular phone numbers attract some relatively low charges.
For VoIP on mobile devices, you need a smartphone or tablet with your preferred VoIP application. You can install mobile apps like Whatsapp, Skype, and Viber. They facilitate free VoIP calls to users with the same applications as you. Calls made to regular phone numbers using this method may attract some costs.
Are VoIP Numbers Different from Regular Phone Numbers?
VoIP numbers have ten digits, just like regular phone numbers. They, however, differ from standard telephone numbers in the following ways:
- VoIP numbers are assigned to individuals, while regular phone numbers are not. Standard phone numbers are tied to devices such as cell phones and landlines.
- VoIP numbers are not limited by location and can work wherever internet connections are available. Regular phone numbers are restricted to their carriers’ coverage areas and may require roaming services to work outside their assigned coverage locations.
- VoIP numbers can be used simultaneously across multiple devices, offering users the comfort of making phone calls from any of their devices.
Can You Make Free Internet Calls?
You can make free internet phone calls, but some requirements must be in place to do so. A VoIP application installed on an internet-enabled device and a reliable internet connection is essential for free internet calls. Make free phone calls using any of the methods below:
- PC to PC: You can make a free internet call from a computer to another computer user who has the same VoIP software installed.
- PC to Phone: This method enables free internet calls from a PC to regular phone numbers.
- App to Phone: This method lets you make free internet calls using VoIP applications on your mobile devices to standard phone numbers.
- App to App: This allows free VoIP calls between mobile devices that have the same VoIP applications installed.