Five Facts You Should Know About Voice over IP Services

The world of VoIP is packed full of useful information. Some of it is merely fun trivia, but some of it is valuable, need-to-know stuff that can affect which service to use, and how you can best use or best save money. Here are five tips that you should know about VoIP.


1. HD Voice captures more sound information than modern PSTN phones

PSTN calls work in much the same principle of a string and two cans, or a microphone and a PA speaker: The sound vibrations are transmitted along a line, and then reproduced by amplifying the sound electronically. Modern PSTN phones are all digital, and use something called “Time Division Multiplexing,” which means that samples of your voice take turns using the same channel, and the information is sent in a linear fashion, unlike VoIP, in which the can be non-linear because the data is reassembled in the right order at the terminating end.

The average human ear can hear between 20 Hz and 20 kHz, which, not coincidentally, is the range of most stereos and headphones. PSTN phones have a range of about 300 Hz to 3400 Hz, which is well within the range of the human voice, but unfortunately narrow enough to sound muddy and confusing, particularly when you are on a business conference call. HD Voice, which is only available with VoIP, has a range of 300 Hz to 7 kHz. Those higher frequencies make it much easier to differentiate between callers on conference calls, make vocal intonation clearer, and cuts down signification on ear strain.

2. VoIP can be hosted by a provider or done on-premise with an appliance

“Hosted” means that a provider keeps all the equipment on their premises, and your IP phone or gateway connects to the IP address of that equipment, which, in turn, connects to the phone number or SIP address of the person you call. The equipment itself is usually collocated on a facility with other equipment, such as PSTN and SMS gateways, massive hard drives, and other providers’ equipment. “On Premise” means the equipment, also called an appliance, is physically located somewhere in your office building or home office. An On-premise PBX has potentially lower ongoing costs and there is no risk of fee increases. Also, if you need to scale up, you manage the equipment and must purchase new appliances. But if you are tech savvy enough, you have complete control of your PBX. Often companies with a dedicated IT tech or department have appliance-based PBXs.

3. With VoIP, every call is a local call

PSTN calls are what’s called “circuit switched,” meaning that there must be a dedicated, end-to-end connection in order to make a call. For that reason, long distance, and especially international calls, are expensive. VoIP lives on the Internet. Calls either connect directly to an IP or SIP address, or stay on the Internet until the “last mile,” when the call is switched over to a circuit to connect to a PSTN phone. For that reason, even across the ocean, every call connects to the closest gateway to the terminating phone, making it a local call. You can even have your own virtual number, and the whole process works backwards, so the person calling your virtual number connects to a local gateway and the rest of the call travels over the Internet. With VoIP, you don’t even have to dial “1” to make a long distance or toll free calls.

[Read also: How VoIP Technology Can Benefit Your Business?]

4. Many VoIP calls are free

VoIP is a value leader, and many providers offer free calls, depending on the type of call. Any call within the provider’s network is free. Google Talk, among others, allows free iNum calls, which is an international area code specifically for VoIP. OnSIP and many other providers allow for free SIP-to-SIP calls. Ooma residential services have free calls for life once the user buys the appliance. This is in addition to phone plans, which are about $20/mo/user for business customers, that include unlimited calls to the US and Canada.

5. VoIP has lower taxes than cell phone and home lines

The FCC has concluded that VoIP is an information service, rather than a telecommunications service. A recent bill in California was passed that even prohibits regulation, ensuring more innovation without excessive government regulation. Taxes are regulated by the state, and are typically under $5 per month, compared with nearly $20 per month for cell phone bills. That’s more money in your pocket that you can put back in your business.

These have been just five of the many VoIP facts. VoIP is a technological wonder with a rich history of innovation from both the public and private sector. The more you know about VoIP, the more you’ll come to love it.

[Read also: What to do if Skype is not working?]

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