There are 2 basic VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) provider options: free services or paid providers that charge a monthly fee. Making that choice depends on how you plan to use VOIP.
If you just want to chat with friends and family over the Internet, a free service may be adequate. If you're looking for a true alternative to normal phone service, however, consider a VOIP service with a paid package deal.
There are so many choices. To determine which is the best service for your money, you must decide which services you need, and whether you want to quit your existing telephone service completely.
Most VOIP providers offer package plans with free calls to a designated geographical area. Nearly all providers offer free call waiting, call display, and conference call services.
Even though the basic package for a similar fee is the same with most providers, there is a great rivalry between VOIP service providers, with each striving to offer services that set them apart from their competitors. To make the right choice, you'll have to check several packages to find the best for your needs.
For example, if you make a lot of overseas calls, a package that includes international calls makes sense. Or if you receive most of your calls from a specific city, get a package that offers a specific phone number that allows people to call you at that local rate.
Service and reliability are other critical factors when selecting a VOIP provider. This information is available from reviews on the internet or by asking your friends which providers they use. One suggestion is to find a provider offering a money-back guarantee.
Find out how much bandwidth is required for a particular VOIP service. If the information is not available from the company's web site, send an e-mail to verify that your broadband connection is suitable for their VOIP service. Usually 128 kbps on the upload side is sufficient.
Emergency calls are 1 of the technical drawbacks with VOIP, because it's hard to determine your physical location on VOIP calls. 911 calls may not be routed to the correct call center, and if they are, operators can't establish your location if you are unable to communicate. The Federal Communications Commission, in the United States, is demanding that VOIP service providers find a solution.
Providing phone service during a power outage is another technical problem. Since VOIP requires electrical current to operate modems, in a power outage the VOIP phone line goes dead. One solution is to use a computer with a battery backup. Another is an electrical generator to provides emergency household electricity.
Finally, you may want to retain your existing phone service after signing up for VOIP. Not all providers offer this service, so if it's important, verify that ability in advance.
About the author:
Ron King is a full-time researcher, writer, and web developer. Visit http://www.voip-solutions-now.comto learn more about this subject.
Copyright 2005 Ron King. This article may be reprinted if the resource box is left intact.
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