Online Phone Service
What is Online Phone Service?
Every month people are giving up their regular phone service for an internet-based, online phone service. Internet calling has improved over the years to the point where it is routine for thousands of people in the U.S. and across the world. The technology used is called voice-over-internet protocol (VoIP). In most cases, it is still possible to use your regular phone by plugging it in to a small box connected to your high-speed internet service. With this type of online phone service, you pick up your phone, get a dial tone, dial, and talk just as you would with traditional phone service. Other types of online phone services require either a computer connected handset, known as a softphone, or you use a computer-connected headset with microphone.
People who have not tried online phone service often wonder why anyone would switch. Traditional phone service works perfectly well doesn’t it? It does, but online phone service is less expensive and offers more features. Some internet phone services offer unlimited calling nationwide or even worldwide for one low monthly fee. People who make a lot of long-distance calls can save a fortune by switching over. The only problem becomes choosing exactly which service offers the best quality and features to meet your needs.
One feature that some people enjoy is the ability to set up a phone number with any area code in the U.S. Since VoIP doesn’t work through the local exchange network of the telephone system, your phone number is not fixed by your location. This has two benefits. The first is that if you move to a different area code, you can keep the same phone number. This is especially useful for temporary moves when you don’t want to go through the hassle of cancelling one account and setting up another. The second benefit is that many business owners like to keep their business in a prime location, such as New York City, but they can still answer calls from their vacation home across the country from the same New York number.
Other features of online phone service come from how they are able to integrate with your home PC or laptop. Some companies have a feature that automatically transcribes voice mail messages and sends them to you via email. Other services can integrate with MS Outlook or other computer-based address books to dial directly from the computer. Another feature is the ability to network the service through several different lines.
In the past, the quality of online phone service was notoriously bad. This kept many people from switching over. Since its inception, however, vast improvements have been made to the quality of internet-based calls. In many cases, especially for overseas calls, the quality of internet phone service can be far superior to traditional service.
Online phone services exist in three different varieties. Some require computers running software and others require online an internet connection. Here are the three basic types:
• PC-to-PC online phone service – Many of these services do not use anything resembling a phone network. They connect using software installed on a computer and the other party is dialed by using their contact name. The other person must also have the same software installed on their computer. Some services allow the use of USB handsets, while others use speakers, microphones, or headsets.
• Internet phone service – This type of service uses a special adapter box to which a standard phone can be connected. The box is then connected to the internet in order to bypass the regular phone system. Calls are then routed through VoIP to the regular phone system so calls can be made to anyone. This is the type of phone service offered by most cable TV and internet providers.
• Internal VoIP – This type of system is used in an office situation with multiple lines. Internal extensions are run over VoIP networks and then either connect to another outside VoIP network or a regular telephone network to get to the outside world.
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