Email, Messaging, & Video Calls Texting & Messaging Getting Started With VoIP What you need to begin using VoIP by Nadeem Unuth Freelance Contributor Nadeem Unuth is a former freelance contributor to Lifewire who specializes in information and communication technology with a focus on VoIP. our editorial process LinkedIn Nadeem Unuth Updated on September 11, 2020 Texting & Messaging Email Texting & Messaging Video Calls Tweet Share Email Once you are aware of the benefits VoIP can bring to your communication experience, you are very likely to decide to switch to it, or at least give it a try. So what next? 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 an adequate bandwidth. First, determine what kind of connection you need and how to know whether your existing connection is sufficient. 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. Choosing the right type of VoIP is essential to make optimal use of 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. For PC-to-PC communication, the only hardware required is a headset or microphone and speakers. Some softphone applications do allow you to make and receive calls using your mobile phone, thus eliminating the need for headsets and other equipment of the like. You either install their softphone client on your mobile phone or use their web interface for the dialing. For hardware-based VoIP, you will need solid material. And this costs money, but not always, as we will see below. What you will need is an ATA (phone adapter) and a phone set. The phone set can be any of the traditional phones you use with PSTN. Now there are unique phones for VoIP with special features, called IP phones. These do not require having an ATA because they have the functionality included. IP phones are quite expensive and mostly used by businesses. Many hardware-based VoIP services provide free hardware (an ATA) for free for the duration of the service. This helps you not only in saving money but also on compatibility with the service and on allowing you the possibility of trying a service without investing. Get A Phone Number If you want to extend your VoIP to beyond the PC, you will need to have a phone number. This number is given to you once you subscribe to a paid 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 and getting it running 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 set up is quite generic: download the application, install it on your machine (be it a PC, 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 to communicate. With hardware-based VoIP, you have to plug your ATA to your Internet router and plug your phone to the ATA. Then, there are specific configurations to make, which commonly use a PC. For some services, it is quite straight forward, while for some 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 usually is enjoyable for most but causes quite some frustration for some 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 to call the support team of your VoIP service. Also, always bear in mind that in most cases, insufficient bandwidth is the cause of low quality. If you have gone through all these steps and are enjoying your VoIP experience, you are then flirting with the future of voice communication.