What is VoIP/Internet Voice?
VoIP allows you to
make telephone calls using a computer
network, over a data network like the
Internet. VoIP converts the voice signal
from your telephone into a digital signal
that travels over the internet then converts
it back at the other end so you can speak to
anyone with a regular phone number. When
placing a VoIP call using a phone with an
adapter, you'll hear a dial tone and dial
just as you always have. VoIP may also allow
you to make a call directly from a computer
using a conventional telephone or a
How Can I Place a
Depending on the
service, one way to place a VoIP call is to
pick up your phone and dial the number,
using an adaptor that connects to your
existing high-speed Internet connection. The
call goes through your local telephone
company to a VoIP provider. The phone call
goes over the Internet to the called party's
local telephone company for the completion
of the call. Another way is to utilize a
microphone headset plugged into your
computer. The number is placed using the
keyboard and is routed through your cable
What Kind of
Equipment Do I Need?
A broadband (high
speed Internet) connection is required.
This can be through a cable modem, or high
speed services such as DSL or a local area
network. You can hook up an inexpensive
microphone to your computer and send your
voice through a cable modem or connect a
phone directly to a telephone adaptor.
Is there a
difference between making a Local Call and a
Long Distance Call?
Some VoIP providers offer their services
for free, normally only for calls to other
subscribers to the service. Your VoIP
provider may permit you to select an area
code different from the area in which you
live. This means you may not incur long
distance charges if you call a number in
your area code regardless of geography. It
also means that people who call you may
incur long distance charges depending on
their area code and service.
Some VoIP providers charge for a long
distance call to a number outside your
calling area, similar to existing,
traditional wireline telephone service.
Other VoIP providers permit you to call
anywhere at a flat rate for a fixed number
If I have VoIP
service, who can I call?
Depending upon your service, you might be
limited only to other subscribers to the
service, or you may
be able to call any phone number, anywhere
in the world. The call can be made to a
local number, a mobile phone, to a long
distance number, or an international number.
You may even utilize the service to speak
with more than one person at a time. The
person you are calling does not need any
special equipment, just a phone.
What Are Some
Advantages of Internet Voice?
is digital, it may offer features and
services that are not available with a
traditional phone. If you have a broadband
internet connection, you need not maintain
and pay the additional cost for a line just
to make telephone calls.
With many VoIP
plans you can talk for as long as you
want with any person in the world (the
requirement is that the other person has an
Internet connection). You can also talk with
many people at the same time without any
What Are Some
disadvantages of Internet Voice?
If you're considering
replacing your traditional telephone service
with VoIP, there are some possible
Can I use my
Computer While I talk on the Phone?
services don't work during power outages
and the service provider may not offer
Not all VoIP
services connect directly to emergency
services through 9-1-1.
may or may not offer directory
assistance/white page listings.
Can I Take My Phone
Adapter with me When I Travel?
You may be able to use your VoIP service
wherever you travel as long as you have a
high speed Internet connection available. In
that case it would work the same as from
your home or business.
Does my Computer
Have to be Turned on?
Not if you are making calls with a phone and
adaptor or special VoIP phone, but your
broadband Internet connection needs to be
active. You can also use your computer while
talking on the phone.
How Do I Know If I
have a VoIP phone Call?
It will ring like any other call.
Does the FCC
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC)
has worked to create an environment
promoting competition and innovation to
benefit consumers. Historically, the FCC has
not regulated the Internet or the services
provided over it. On February 12, 2004, the
FCC found that an entirely Internet-based
VoIP service was an unregulated information
service. On the same day, the FCC began a
broader proceeding to examine what its' role
should be in this new environment of
increased consumer choice and what it can
best do to meet its role of safeguarding the
these considerations may change with new
developments in internet technology. You
should always check with the VoIP service
provider you choose to confirm any
advantages and limitations to their service.
information about Internet Voice/VoIP see
the FCC Consumer
factsheet. (pdf file)