What Are VoIP and Internet Calls?
VoIP, which stands for Voice over Internet Protocol, is a technology that allows people to perform phone services like making calls through the use of IP networks instead of traditional telephone lines. VoIP services are typically performed through broadband internet connections and local area networks. According to the latest report from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), there are over 2.1 million VoIP subscriptions in Ohio as of June 2021.
As the name implies, internet calls are phone calls that are made over the internet. The terms VoIP and internet calls are often used interchangeably, and they both involve using the internet to perform telephone services. VoIP services are also used to transmit messages, video calls, and images between two parties.
How Do VoIP and Internet Calls Compare to Landline and Cell Phone Calls?
VoIP and Internet calls differ from traditional phone calls and services in several ways. When a call is made with a landline, the sound waves from the caller’s voice is converted into electrical energy and is transmitted through copper wires and telephone exchanges until it gets to the receiver, where it is then converted back to sound waves. With cell phones, the caller’s sound waves are converted into electrical signals that are transmitted via radio waves. These radio waves are sent to the cell phone mast closest to the caller, which then routes it to a local base station and the receiver. To avoid interference from other calls, grid patterns are created in different areas. The masts located in each grid are responsible for collecting and routing all calls from cell phones in that area, ensuring that calls remain unscrambled. This also allows the same set of radio wave frequencies in each grid to be reused, thereby increasing the number of calls the grid can handle at any given time.
With VoIP and internet calls, the sound waves from the caller’s voice are transformed into digital signals that are then transmitted over the internet in data packets. These data packets are converted back to sound waves when they reach the receiver. VoIP and internet calls can be made and received by specialized IP phones, mobile devices, and computers with the right software, and landline telephones fitted with a special adapter that allows them to receive VoIP calls.
When compared to traditional methods of making phone calls, VoIP offers the following advantages:
- Lower Call Costs: Calls made via VoIP are relatively cheaper than calls made via landlines or cell phones. Most premium services offered on traditional phone services for an extra fee are readily available with VoIP. With the right set up and apps, some of these services are even free;
- Increased Accessibility and Portability: With VoIP, calls can be made anywhere as long as there is a working internet connection;
- Flexibility: With the right software or hardware, VoIP and internet calls can be made from various devices like mobile phones, tablets, computers, and even landlines;
- Extra Features: In addition to regular voices calls, most VoIP services also provide additional features like instant messaging and video calls;
- Clearer Voice Quality: The quality of calls made over VoIP is generally crisper and clearer than those made over landlines and cellphones. However, note that this advantage is dependent on the strength of the internet connection and bandwidth;
Does Ohio Regulate VoIP Providers?
In Ohio, public utilities, including telecommunications and telephone services, are regulated by the Public Utilities Commission. According to Ohio Revised Code Chapter 4927 Section 03, this commission has no authority over VoIP enabled services in the state, except to the extent required under federal law, or if it is determined that regulation in a particular case is necessary for the welfare, protection, and safety of the public.
What Do You Need for VoIP and Internet Calls?
The most vital requirement for making VoIP and internet calls is a broadband internet connection. This can be gotten through a cable modem, a local area network, or other high-speed data services. Once a working broadband internet connection has been established, the next requirement for making VoIP and internet calls is selecting a preferred method.
One of the advantages VoIP and internet calls have over regular calls is its versatility. Users have the option of choosing from a variety of devices to make calls with VoIP network:
- IP Phones: IP phones are specialized phones that are designed specifically for utilizing VoIP services. These phones look like regular landline telephones, but instead of copper wire connections, they are connected directly to a router through an Ethernet cable or a Wi-Fi connection;
- Analog Telephone Adapters (ATA): an analog telephone adapter is a device that allows standard landline telephones to connect to a VoIP network by merely plugging it into the back of the phone instead of a traditional analog telephone cable. When plugged, the ATA receives the analog signal from the telephone and converts it into digital data that is then transmitted over the internet;
- PCs: VoIP and internet calls can be made from a personal computer by connecting a microphone and speakers and downloading VoIP enabling software. A headset can be used in place of a microphone and speakers. VoIP calls made from one PC to another are typically free of charge. Note that this does not include the cost of obtaining an internet connection. Some VoIP software packages also allow users to make calls to a non-VoIP phone number for a fee;
- Softphones: softphones are software applications installed on mobile devices to enable them to make VoIP and internet calls. Softphones are generally easy to use; all that is required is downloading the application on the appropriate device. Note that VoIP and internet calls can only be made via softphones if both the caller and the receiver have compatible software.
Are VoIP Numbers Different from Regular Phone Numbers?
VoIP service providers assign VoIP phone numbers in the state of Ohio. Some of these providers assign numbers for free, while others charge a fee. Some VoIP providers also allow new customers to transfer their existing landline telephone numbers to their VoIP network.
VoIP phone numbers have the same ten digits as regular phone numbers, and they are generally used the same way. However, there are a few key differences between these numbers:
- VoIP phone numbers are assigned to a user, unlike regular phone numbers, which are assigned to specific devices;
- VoIP phone numbers are not assigned to a specific location, while regular phone numbers are;
- A VoIP phone number can be used on multiple devices simultaneously, while a regular phone number can only be used on one device at any given time.
You can identify unknown individuals calling with regular and VoIP numbers with reverse phone lookup searches.
Can You Make Free Internet Calls?
With the right applications, it is possible to make internet calls for free. Four methods can be used to facilitate these free internet calls:
- Installing a software package on your PC that allows you to make free calls from that computer to a regular phone number. An example of a software package that can be used for this is Google Voice;
- Installing a mobile application on your mobile device that allows you to make free internet calls from that device to a regular phone number or to another device that does not have the same app installed. Apps like TextNow can be used for this;
- Installing a software package on separate computers so that free internet calls can be made from one of these computers to another. Software packages like Skype, Zoom, and Google Voice can be used for this;
- Installing mobile applications that allow free internet calls on mobile devices like smartphones and tablets. With this method, these free calls can only be made between mobile devices with the same installed software. Examples of software applications that can be used for this method are WhatsApp and Viber.