What Is VoIP Service?

VoIP services and providers of cheap and free calls

Smiling businesswoman looking down at cell phone

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VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) is a great technology that allows you to make free and cheap calls locally and worldwide and gives you a handful of other benefits and improvements over traditional telephony. To be able to use VoIP, you need a VoIP service.

VoIP service is the service that you get from a company (called a VoIP service provider) that allows making and receiving VoIP calls. It is like the Internet service you get from an Internet service provider or the phone service you get from a PSTN line telecom.

You, therefore, need to be registered with a VoIP service provider and use its service to make VoIP calls. For example, you need to register with Skype, which is the most popular VoIP service on the Internet, and use your Skype account to make VoIP calls to people online and on their phones.

Is a VoIP Service Enough?

Once you are registered with a VoIP service, you need some other items for using VoIP fully.

First, you need a phone to make and receive calls. That can be any kind of phone, depending on the type of service (see below) you are using. It can be a traditional phone set, which you can use with residential VoIP services, like Vonage for example. There are special phones for VoIP called IP phones that are designed with advanced features for VoIP calls. For services that are based online, like Skype, you need a VoIP application (or a VoIP client) that primarily simulates the functionality of a physical phone and also offers many other features. This kind of software app is called a softphone.

For any VoIP call, you need to have an Internet connection or a connection to a local network that in turn connects to the Internet. VoIP uses IP networks (the Internet being the widest IP network) to terminate and channel calls, which is what makes it so cheap and so powerful.

Some services require an additional piece of hardware called an ATA (analog telephone adapter) or simply a phone adapter. This is the case only with services that use traditional phones, like residential services.

Types of VoIP Service

Depending on the way you will communicate, you need to choose which type of VoIP service suits you, among the following:

  • Home phone replacement residential services. This kind of service replaces your traditional landline phone and allows you to keep your existing phone together with a phone adapter. It applies to businesses where many choose to use IP phones. The service is paid monthly. Read more on residential VoIP services.
  • No-monthly-bill services. This kind of VoIP service gives you a special hardware which you pay for only once. Then you make unlimited calls without anything more.
  • Software-based services. Like with Skype, you install a VoIP app on your computer or portable device and register with the service. You then use the app to make and receive the calls and you use your prepaid credit to make calls to landline and mobile phones. Calls to people using the same service on their computers are free. The apps are often offered free with the VoIP service.
  • Mobile VoIP services. Software-based services designed to be used on mobile phones, tablets, and other portable devices. Here too, you need to install a VoIP app on your phone or portable device to use the service. Wi-Fi or phone carrier connections are used instead of cellular calling minutes.
  • VoIP Services for businesses. VoIP services for businesses are often based on internal networks and IP PBXes. They also offer many business-related features and outsourcing for the VoIP system’s management and hosting.