How to Get Started With VoIP

What you need to begin using VoIP

Here are the different things you need to have and do to get started with VoIP. 

Have A Good Internet Connection

With VoIP, your voice will transmit over IP — the Internet Protocol. The first thing you will need is a good internet connection, with adequate bandwidth. First, determine what kind of connection you need and how to know whether your existing connection is sufficient.

Woman using phone in business setting
 Hero Images / Getty Images

Choose the Type of VoIP Service

Subscription to a VoIP service provider is necessary to be able to place and receive calls. The communication needs of people vary according to their activities, life patterns, habits, and budget. Before choosing and registering for a VoIP service, you need to decide what flavor of VoIP suits you most. Selecting the correct type of VoIP is essential to optimize the technology for more significant benefits and lower costs.

There are several different types of VoIP services on the market, such as software-based VoIP services, mobile VoIP services, device-based VoIP services, and business VoIP services and solutions.

Once you have chosen the type of VoIP service you need, select a service provider.

Get Your VoIP Equipment

The equipment you need for VoIP could be affordable or expensive, depending on your needs. The only hardware required for PC-to-PC communication is a headset, microphone, and speakers.

Some softphone applications allow you to make and receive calls using your mobile phone, thus eliminating the need for headsets and other equipment. You either install their softphone client on your mobile phone or use their web interface for dialing.

For hardware-based VoIP, you will need solid material. And this costs money, but not always, as we will see below. You will need an ATA (phone adapter) and a phone set, which can be any of the traditional phones you use with PSTN. There are also phones for VoIP with unique features, called IP phones. These do not require having an ATA because they have the functionality included. IP phones are pretty expensive and are used mainly by businesses.

Many hardware-based VoIP services provide free hardware (an ATA) for the duration of the service, which helps you save money and avoid compatibility woes.

Get A Phone Number

You must have a phone number if you want to extend your VoIP beyond the PC. This number is given to you once you subscribe to a service, whether software or hardware-based. You will use this number to make or receive calls to and from fixed or mobile phones. A burning issue for most people shifting from PSTN to VoIP is the possibility of keeping their existing numbers.

Set Up Your VoIP

Unless you are deploying VoIP in your business, setting it up is a breeze. With each service comes the instructions for setting up, of which some are good and some less so.

With software-based VoIP, the setup is quite generic: download the application, install it on your machine (be it a PC, tablet, PDA, mobile phone, etc.), register for a new user name or number, add contacts and start communicating. For paid softphone service, buying credit is one step before starting.

With hardware-based VoIP, you have to plug your ATA into your Internet router and plug your phone into the ATA. Then, there are specific configurations to make, which commonly use a PC. It is straightforward for some services, while for others, you will need a tweak or two and maybe a phone call or two to the support service before kicking start.

A Word On Voice Quality

Setting up VoIP is one stage - using it is yet another stage. That stage is usually enjoyable for most but causes some frustration for others. Many users complain of bad voice quality, dropped calls, echo, etc. These are related mainly to the bandwidth and coverage. If you are one of these unlucky users, don't despair. There is always a way out. The best thing to do is call your VoIP service's support team. Also, remember that in most cases, insufficient bandwidth is the cause of low quality.

FAQ
  • Is VoIP secure to use for businesses?

    If you only use your VoIP inside your own internal network you likely won't have to worry about hackers. And your VoIP is essentially as secure as your IT infrastructure. However, VoIP calls made outside your internal network are not as secure.

  • How do I check voicemails on a VoIP?

    Various VoIP services handle voicemails differently, so you'll want to check with your VoIP provider. Some can replay voicemail over a VoIP connected phone, others can be retrieved through your PC, and some can transcribe voicemails and send as an email.

  • Can I send a fax through a VoIP phone?

    It is possible to send a fax through VoIP, and in general it's about as secure as sending over a regular phone line. However, the process of setting up a VoIP for faxing differs depending on the service, and not all fax machines are VoIP compatible.

Was this page helpful?