VoIP is the acronym for Voice over Internet Protocol, which refers to a group of technologies that function with Internet Protocol networks, including local area networks (LANs) and broadband internet connections to enable voice and other telephone communications.
What Are VoIP and Internet Calls?
VoIP and internet calls refer to the transmission of telephone communications, including phone calls, video calls, and messages with an Internet Protocol network as the delivery channel. VoIP and internet calls transmit data as packets using Internet network protocols, as opposed to traditional circuit transmissions of the public switched telephone networks (PSTN).
How Do VoIP and Internet Calls Compare to Landline and Cell Phone Calls?
VoIP and internet calls differ from traditional telephone calls. Both types of calls use distinct channels of delivery to deliver calls. VoIP and internet calls use packet switching to convey data in packets over digital networks. When the transmitted packets get to the recipient, they are rearranged in a proper sequence to deliver the message. Traditional telephone calls, including landlines and cell phones, use circuit switching, which has two nodes that establish a specialized channel through the network for both nodes to interconnect.
The sound waves of traditional telephone calls are converted into electrical signals, comprising copper wires and radio waves. When the electrical signals reach the recipient, they are converted back into sound waves. The transmission process for landline calls is via copper wires through telephone exchanges. For cell phones, sound wave transmission is radio waves, which connect to mast towers and are routed via base stations until they reach the recipient. The radio waves transmission process forms a grid pattern, enabling each mast to receive and route calls within its grid. This grid pattern also allows the same set of frequencies to be reused; hence, increasing the number of phone calls a mast tower can manage without interruption.
During VoIP and internet calls, sound waves are converted into digital signals transmitted to the recipients using IP network connections. Analog Telephone Adapters (ATAs), IP telephones, and softphones are the specialized tools VoIP and internet calls require to operate. ATAs are devices plugged into traditional analog phones such as landlines to enable VoIP calls. IP telephones connect directly to routers and modems to enable telephony communications. Softphones refer to software program telephones that are used for telephony services on computers and internet-connected communication tools. IP phones transform sound waves into digital signals using codecs, which are computer algorithms. VoIP and internet calls have the following advantages over cell phones and landlines:
- Can be used anywhere: VoIP call services can be used anywhere there is a stable internet connection. They are not limited by location.
- Less expensive operation costs: VoIP services' operation costs are relatively inexpensive compared to traditional telephone services.
- Lower charges: VoIP and internet calls use internet connections as their means of transmission; as such, they do not charge as high as traditional telephone services. VoIP and internet calls also provide free added premium services that would usually attract additional charges on regular telephone services.
- Flexibility: VoIP and internet calls are not restricted to cell phones and can be made from various devices, including tablets, computers, and VoIP phones, as opposed to traditional telephone services. Provided these devices have the required software or application, they can support internet calls. Landlines can also be configured to enable VoIP and internet calls with ATAs. However, VoIP calls are restricted by available bandwidth.
- Easy phone number porting: VoIP numbers can be ported easily and do not require the erection of new devices and connections
- Enhanced voice quality: VoIP calls can produce HD call quality with stable internet connections and high bandwidth.
Reverse phone lookup searches help identify callers linked to VoIP numbers, like regular phone numbers.
Does Oklahoma Regulate VoIP Providers?
The Oklahoma Corporation Commission has limited regulatory control over telecommunications providers in Oklahoma. The Commission oversees the quality of service issues, Oklahoma Universal Service Fund, and applications for new telecommunications carriers that want to offer certain services within the state. However, the Commission does not assert jurisdiction over services provided using the Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP) technology.
What Do You Need for VoIP and Internet Calls?
It is required that you have an active broadband internet connection to make VoIP and internet calls. Fiber-optic options are usually the most preferred options; however, other viable options are available for use. Individuals may use FTTP or ethernet connections and fast (4G/LTE and 5G) mobile networks for a disruption-free VoIP experience. The other required tools are determined by the user's preferred VoIP calling method, which could be any of the following:
- Cell phone
Users making VoIP and internet calls with cell phones will need to have their preferred internet call mobile application installed on their smartphones. The person receiving the call must also have the same app installed on their smartphone. Internet call mobile applications include Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Skype, Zoom, Facetime, Viber, Line, etc. Some mobile applications can be used to make phone calls to regular landlines and mobile phones; however, such calls incur extra charges.
VoIP calling with a computer requires that the user has a laptop or desktop computer, microphone, headset or speaker, and the applicable software installed on their computer. Software programs such as Zoom, Google Talk, Skype, Apple Facetime, etc., enable internet calls. VoIP calls where both the caller and recipient use compatible software programs are free, but calls made with regular phone services will incur additional charges.
VoIP calling with a landline is possible, but the user must have an Analog Telephone Adapter (ATA) and a compatible telephone. The ATA should be connected to either the wall phone socket or a compatible router.
Are VoIP Numbers Different from Regular Phone Numbers?
Despite the similarities between VoIP numbers and regular phone numbers, especially the fact that they both have ten digits, there are some distinctive factors between both numbers, which include;
- A VoIP number can be used on several devices concurrently, while a telephone number cannot be used on more than one device at a time.
- VoIP numbers are allocated to separate users and not separate telephone lines or devices like regular phone numbers.
- VoIP numbers are not limited by geographical locations; so far there is a stable internet connection at the caller and recipient's end. However, individuals can only use regular phone numbers within the number's geographical coverage area unless both users activate data roaming on their phones through the settings app.
Can You Make Free Internet Calls?
Yes, individuals can make free internet calls if certain requirements are fulfilled, one of which includes an active broadband connection. Also, both users must have the same internet calls mobile applications. Individuals can make free internet calls in the following ways:
- App to App – Internet call mobile applications on smartphones and tablet devices allow free internet calls between devices with the same mobile applications installed. App to App internet calls will be unsuccessful if the landlines or other mobile phones do not have the same apps.
- PC to Phone – Make internet calls with mobile apps that allow free internet calls from a PC to a regular cell phone.
- App to Phone – Use applications that allow free calls from a smartphone with the installed app to regular telephone numbers, including landlines with the installed apps.
- PC to PC - Ensure the same internet call software program is installed on both the caller and recipient’s PCs, enabling free phone calls between the two systems.