3 Ways You Make a VoIP Connection

There are three ways to make a VoIP call, each with a different set of requirements and implications. Learn how these methods differ and what you need to place a VoIP call.

Computer to Computer (or Smartphone to Smartphone) 

The word "computer" includes all devices that use digital data and run an operating system, including desktop and laptop computers, tablets, and smartphones. This mode is the most common, as it is easy and free. You need to have a computer connected to the internet and the necessary hardware to talk and listen—either a headset or speakers and a microphone. You can install voice communication software like Skype and you'll be ready to go.

You can also place calls through a Local Area Network. A LAN needs to be IP-enabled, meaning the Internet Protocol (IP) should be running and controlling packet transfer on your network. With this setup, you can communicate with another person on the same network.

Whether you are communicating over the internet or a LAN, you need adequate bandwidth. If you have around 50 kbps, it will work, but you won’t have the best quality. For good quality voice, get at least 100 kbps for a conversation.

Phone to Phone

"Phone" here means a traditional analog telephone. It also includes simple (not smart) cell phones. This mode is very handy but is not as simple and cheap to set up as the other two. It implies using a phone set on each user end. You can use VoIP and take advantage of its low cost by using a phone set. There are two ways in which you can use phones to make VoIP calls:

IP Phones

An IP Phone looks just like a normal handset. The difference is that, instead of working on the normal PSTN network, it connects to a gateway or router to establish communications. The IP phone, therefore, does not connect to the RJ-11 socket. Instead, it uses the RJ-45 Ethernet plug, which is the one you use for wired LANs. To get an idea of what an RJ-11 plug is, have a look at your normal phone or your dial-up modem. It's the plug that connects the wire to the phone or modem. The RJ-45 plug is similar but bigger.

You can also use wireless tech like Wi-Fi to connect to a network. In this case, you can use either a USB or RJ-45 connection.


ATA is short for Analog Telephone Adapter. It's a device that allows you to connect a standard PSTN phone to your computer or directly to the internet. The ATA converts voice from your normal phone to digital data ready to be sent over a network or the internet.

If you register for VoIP service, it is common to have an ATA bundled along in the service package, which you can return once you terminate the package. For example, you get an ATA in a package with Vonage and AT&T’s CallVantage. You only have to plug the ATA into your computer or phone line, install the necessary software, and you'll be ready to use your phone for VoIP.

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