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vonsen
Just Because
Premium
join:2005-01-06

3 edits

20 recommendations

So you wanna try Voip?


A few guidelines & answers for those new to Voip

You might also want to look at the Official Voip FAQ
Or the Voip Wiki

    1. What is this Voip thing?
    2. If it's like a regular telephone, why bother?
    3. Why doesn't everyone get Voip?
    4. What kind of hiccups are we talking about?
    5. Where can I find out more?
    6. Other considerations
    7. In Conclusion


1. What is this Voip thing?
Voip (pronounced 'voyp') is Voice over IP, a way to send voice conversations over the internet. You might have run across this already with voice/chat applications like Skype or MSN Messenger. Much of the current interest though is in using Voip to make telephone calls. When I make a Voip phone call, I use a normal telephone and dial the normal phone number of whoever I am calling. The people on the other end can't tell that whether I'm calling from a traditional telephone or a Voip one. The main difference is that the phone call travels over the internet rather than through the local phone company's wires.


2. If it's like a regular telephone, why bother?
<It costs less>   Well, there are a couple of reasons. A lot of people are attracted to Voip because it typically costs less than phone service from your local Telco (Telephone company). Often you can get a flat rate Voip service that includes unlimited long distance calls in the US/Canada for $20 - $30 per month. Some plans include free long distance calls to other various other countries. If you don't use your phone much, you might be able to get a limited use plan for about $10 per month. Phone service usually costs a lot more than this with a Telco. In many areas it is still not possible to get a flat rate long distance plan from a Telco, so Voip is very attractive to those who make or would like to make a lot of long distance calls.

<Feature rich>   Secondly, most Voip companies offer feature rich plans. A lot of Telco's charge additional fees for services like Caller ID, call forwarding or distinctive ring. Most Voip plans include dozens of custom calling features in their base rate. So you don't pay extra for things like Caller ID or voicemail. Voip providers have also added a lot of features that you may not have seen before. Features like detailed call logs, being able to manage your custom calling features from the web or the option of obtaining a phone number in a different area code than the one you live in.


3. Why doesn't everyone get Voip?
Voip has only become widespread in the last five years, so it is a new technology. And like most new technologies, there have been a few hiccups along the way. If any interruption to your phone service would be a disaster, then Voip may not be for you. But if you like the cost savings, full feature palette and can live with the occasional bug, then you may find Voip to be a very good thing indeed. If you do decide to try Voip, don't give up your regular phone immediately. Try Voip for at least a few weeks to get a feel for it before you cut your landline or cellular ties, just in case you decide that Voip isn't for you.


4. What kind of hiccups are we talking about?
<Your Voip is as good as your ISP>   Since Voip routes phone calls over the internet, you have to have broadband ('always on') internet first. And your dial tone will only be as reliable as your ISP. If your internet has an outage, then so will your Voip. And if your internet is flakey, then your phone will be too.

<Faxing, Tivo & alarm systems>   Voip is digital. It works fine for talking to your neighbour across the street or calling your Grandmother in Italy. But it may not work for 'analog' calls like fax machines, your Tivo or your home alarm system. This varies from provider to provider. In fact, my fax, Tivos, Ultimate TV and alarm system all work fine on Voip. Just be aware that you may run into difficulties and what works with one provider may not for another.

<911>   Don't depend on your Voip line to call 911. Or 112 (EU), 999 (UK), 000 (Australia).. well, you get the idea. It may or may not work. If this makes you nervous then either have an alternate method to reach your country's Emergency number, such as a landline or cell phone. Or simply stay away from Voip. Voip providers have not been around as long as Telco's and are just beginning to build up specialized infrastructure to handle 911 calls. Also Voip is nomadic. That is if you travel, go on vacation or move, your phone number can go with you as long as there is an internet connection at your destination. So the 911 system doesn't have any easy way to know where a Voip customer is physically located. I just keep a cell around in case I ever need to call 911. In most places even an inactive cell that does not have an active account will still be able to place an emergency 911 call.

<They give & they take>   Voip gives you the whole range of custom calling features. But you may loose a few 'landline' features too. Your Voip provider probably won't support collect, person to person or 1-900 payment type services. Depending on your provider, you may or may not have access to 411 (directory assistance), 311 (Current events, weather) or 0 (operator assisted dialing). Lastly, you may not be able to reach regionally restricted toll free numbers. If the 1-800 number is national, it will work fine. But sometimes a company will only pay for the 1-800 number to work in their home state or region. Your Voip company probably connects to the telephone network somewhere else, so you may not be able to reach a restricted 1-800 number in your home state. Having said that I haven't run into a restricted 1-800 number in quite a while, so maybe they aren't that common anymore. None of these 'limitations' concern me, but you should be aware of them in case they are important to you.


5. Where can I find out more?
You can find user reviews for most of the Voip companies here
And this forum is a good place to ask questions too

Keep in mind that sometimes the same questions are asked over and over. So you will get a warmer reception in the forum if you take sixty seconds to try finding your answer with the search button first, before jumping into the fray. Some people in the forum (like me) might give you a hard time if it obvious that you didn't bother searching first. If your search is unsuccessful then some of the forum regulars will try to help you.

This is a list of some of the better known Voip providers. This is not an endorsement of any particular provider(s), it just isn't practical to maintain an all-inclusive list. The companies are listed alphabetically

AT&T               website    reviews
Broadvoice        website    reviews
Broadvox          website    reviews
Lingo                website    reviews
Packet 8           website    reviews
Quantum Voice   website    reviews
Rocketvoip        website    reviews
Sunrocket         website    reviews
Voice Pulse       website    reviews
Vonage            website    reviews


6. Other Considerations
How do I connect my phone to the Internet?
When you sign up with one of the Voip providers, they will send you a small Voip 'adapter'. The adapter connects between your phone and your internet. Many of the adapters can function as a basic router too, if you don't already have one. Some providers will also let you sign up using your own adapter (if you have one). These are called 'BYOD' (Bring Your Own Device) plans and may entitle you to a discounted plan rate. If you are careful to ensure that you are disconnected from the Telco wiring, you could also plug the Voip adapter into a telephone jack in your house. Then all of the jacks would have a Voip dial tone.

Is the call quality clear?
If your ISP is solid your Voip calls should be about the same as a traditional plain old telephone call. Some providers will let you choose the quality level. Lower quality rates use less bandwidth (around 30Kbps) and may sound a bit hollow, muffled or tinny. Higher quality rates use more bandwidth (around 90Kbps) and sound as good as or better than a Telco call. Some people report that their phone call quality suffers if they use the internet while on the phone. If you experience this problem it can be fixed by using a 'QoS' capable router such as the Linksys WRT54G. QoS gives a higher priority to Voip during a call so that the call quality does not suffer.

How dependable is my Internet?
Your Voip will work a lot better if you have a solid path to the internet. This does not mean that you are home free just because you have lots of bandwidth. It doesn't make much difference to Voip if you paid extra to get that 10Mbit line. Yes you do need a certain amount of bandwidth (30 - 90Kbps in each direction). But we are really talking about line quality, not speed. Quality means having very few dropped packets and low jitter and latency. There are some good line quality tests on this site if you aren't sure about your ISP.

I thought that Voip was free?
The type of Voip that we have been talking about costs less than a Telco but is not free. There are some free services available that you may want to look into such as Skype or FWD. Free services excel at making PC to PC calls, but may have limited access to the regular (PSTN) Telephone network.

Number Portability (Porting)
Can I transfer (port) my landline or cell number to a Voip provider? This is a good description of how porting works. Often you can port an existing landline (and maybe a wireless) number to Voip if you want to. Keep in mind that if a Voip provider provides you with a new number and you later decide to change companies that you may not be able to keep the number that was assigned to your account. The porting rules may not apply if the number originated with a Voip provider.


7. In Conclusion
So is Voip for you? Only you can decide that. There are a lot of happy Voip users here, but like anything you have to try it on yourself and see how it fits. Ask around, maybe some of your friends are already using Voip. Read a few reviews, wander around some of the provider websites. Is there a provider offering a trial period or money-back guarantee? And if you do try out Voip, don't give up your existing phone until you have actually used Voip for a few weeks. Just in case your ISP turns out to be flakey or you run into problems. If you find yourself liking Voip, then tell a few friends about it.




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                                                                                                                          five stars shy


PCInTech
keeping art alive since 1953
Premium
join:2004-06-07
Massena, NY
kudos:9
Reviews:
·VOIPO
Vonsen, this is one of the best, all-inclusive explanations of the VoIP technology I have ever seen. I think this should be a first "must read" for all new visitors to this, or any, VoIP related venue. A hearty congratulations are in order for your hard work on this.


voiplover
Premium
join:2004-05-28
Portsmouth, NH
reply to vonsen
Good info. Thanks.

tj008

join:2004-06-24
Cincinnati, OH
reply to vonsen
Bravo! This must be added up top with the codecs post. Mods, please make it so.

Vonsen, you might want to add Nuvio to the list. Good reviews and ive been using them of late. rock solid and Caller ID with Name!


Lets Go

join:2005-03-05
Homer, NY
reply to vonsen
Great Post. Wish a post like this was available when I started my Voip journey. A must read!!!!
--
www.Leatherjockey.com

lmjh7065
Premium
join:2001-04-04
Cincinnati, OH
Reviews:
·Time Warner Cable
reply to vonsen
Thanks for this great post. It's an easy read and I hope everyone appreciates your hard work on this - I do, thanks again!

It is truly an unbiased review and I believe points out very clearly that we still need POTS to use VoIP a lot of the time, UNTIL everyone has VoIP which is probably a long way off.

I also agree it needs to go to the top of the forum here.


WhyADuck
Premium
join:2003-03-05
kudos:1
reply to vonsen
I agree with the other comments, this is a great post (especially for newbies) and ought to be made a "sticky."

ieee1394
Premium
join:2001-08-25
Washington
reply to vonsen

Another reason for getting VOIP

One benefit you forgot to mention is that with VOIP you can get a local number in another part of the country you live in or an entirely other country all together. That makes VOIP really attractive to people that would like to make things easier for people that call them long distance on a regular basis. In one fell swoop you can cancel all long distance charges on inbound calls.


nickz
In A Past Life I Was Astroguy
Premium
join:2001-12-04
Hammond, IN
reply to vonsen

Re: So you wanna try Voip?

Great write up!

MotoVT
Vonage User Since Jan 2004

join:2002-12-03
Butler, PA
reply to vonsen
Outstanding!


vonsen
Just Because
Premium
join:2005-01-06
reply to vonsen
Thanks for all of the positive feedback. Obviously one post can't cover everything, but I did try to address the basics.

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                                                                                                                           five stars shy


DrTCP
Yours truly
Premium,ExMod 1999-04
join:1999-11-09
Round Rock, TX
reply to vonsen
Very good write-up. It is really worth to be in the FAQ.

mcouchey

join:2005-04-07
Murrieta, CA
reply to vonsen
I'll chime in on the kuddos. Nice work. I had found some of your info, but scattered around and not conclusive. In fact I cancelled my VoIP account after one day because the info was not that great. Missed yours until now. Help me with this one question. Can you use TIVO over a VoIP? What problems can I expect?


Simmer911
Premium
join:2005-01-12
Chelsea, AL
reply to vonsen
Great info...I have to say as well. It should be a sticky in this forum really for anyone who is thinking about using VOIP services. I add that anyone looking for more information check out all the websites listed in the provided VOIP Wiki. There is a lot of good information there. Also check out »www.talkaboutvoip.com where I moderate for information in addition to the other great sites.
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TALKABOUTVOIP.COM VOIP FAQ's Questions Answers Professional Help

Fisamo
Premium
join:2004-02-20
Apex, NC
Reviews:
·Earthlink Cable ..
·VOIPO
reply to mcouchey
From what I've read, TIVO is hit-or-miss with VoIP service. As vonsen See Profile said, the TIVO is converting digital signals to analog (modem); VoIP is converting back to digital, compressing an audio signal into packets, then converting it back to analog at the VoIP to PSTN gateway to call the TIVO server. If enough of that signal is lost during the 'packetization' or internet transmission, the call won't authenticate or complete.

In general, to get TIVO to work, you need a VoIP provider who uses the G.711 CODEC to digitize/'packetize' the audio. I know that Vonage and ATT offer this option, and I'm unsure about other providers. (With ATT you have to enable their FAX and Modem support option.) In addition, TIVO users often need to slow down their connection. Here's a link to a successful CallVantage TIVO connection: »[ATT CV] True Success With Directivo Series 2 & No Addition

If you're not interested in subscribing to ATT's CallVantage service, run a search for TiVo and your desired provider. The bottom line for any VoIP provider currently is that YMMV. Try before you port your number or take any action that's difficult to undo.
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{Earthlink 5M/384 cable (TWC) - Moto Surfboard 4220} - {Home network - WRT54G (HyperWRT 2.0b3 f/w)} - {ATTCV VoIP - Centillium MTA-1 (f/w 6.23L)}


vonsen
Just Because
Premium
join:2005-01-06
reply to mcouchey
There have been a lot of Tivo posts, as a search would have shown. You can get your Tivo to work with many Voip providers, although it may take some tweaking. You will also might try checking some forums that cater to Tivos such as TivoCommunity or AVSForum.

To make your Tivo happy, it is essential that you choose a Voip provider that offers an uncompressed Voip connection. This is typically labelled as a 'g711 codec'. Providers that support faxing will generally work better with Tivos. Use a short phone cord and possibly try a 'dsl line filter' inserted backwards between your tivo and the phone line. If your Tivo model allows you to specify the modem speed, it is key that you choose the slowest possible speed. On some Tivos it may be necessary to use an external modem to force the slower speed transmission. Lastly, you may be able to have your Tivo make it's 'Nielsen' call over the internet by purchasing a Tivo serial cable.

If all else fails, you can try different dial in numbers. Some work better than others. If you can convince your Voip provider to reduce your 'packetization rate' to 10ms that will really help, as will disabling 'silence suppression' aka 'voice activity detection'. If you find all of this terminology confusing, then you should take twenty minutes to read though some old posts and it will make more sense to you.

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roger2335

join:2003-03-19
india
reply to vonsen

Re: So you wanna try Voip?

Great Info !!

Really worth reading for everyone new or old to the VOIP.

Thanks !

jeffw_00

join:2004-05-01
Framingham, MA
who do you use (provider, adapter) that works for fax and tivo? Do you do a LOT of faxing?

jeffw_00

join:2004-05-01
Framingham, MA
reply to vonsen

x

x
Expand your moderator at work


vonsen
Just Because
Premium
join:2005-01-06
reply to jeffw_00

Re: So you wanna try Voip?

said by jeffw_00:

who do you use (provider, adapter) that works for fax and tivo? Do you do a LOT of faxing?
I have broadvox and lingo. Broadvox /mediatrix works for both. I am not a heavy fax user at home, but am faxing something at least several times a week. Lingo also works for faxing, but not tivo. The latter is probably because lingo is not offering a g711 codec at this time. These are just two examples - there are other providers that will work with fax/tivo too. If you have more tivo questions, start a new thread and we'll see if we can answer them.

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sean_welling

join:2005-02-25
New York, NY
reply to vonsen
i'm not very voip conscious but would like to know if there is another company beyond the big ones that are good. my wife & i have tried vonage but it doesn't seem to agree with us and we're looking for something else...namely a service that has good international rates & service...any suggestions?


vonsen
Just Because
Premium
join:2005-01-06
Start a new thread in the main forum below + we'll help you out.

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Expand your moderator at work

Drex_CS

join:2005-05-11
canada

1 edit
reply to vonsen

Re: So you wanna try Voip?

I didn't read all the replies so i'm not sure if all this was covered. but there are some differences since that was posted.

1) VoIP's will now have to carry 911
2) Not all IP's use the same cable for thier VoIP and thier internet. Shaw cable for instance (Canada offer only) uses another set up for thier phone service. This means that your internet may be down (heck your Electricity could be down) and your phone will still work. The reason for this is because the "modem" will run on it's 10 hour lifespan batteries without electricity, and you'll still be able to access your phone.
3) You can use a local number from anywhere in the world, and have it run to your house (eg. get a Hong Kong based VoIP and you have a Hong kong number, but still have no long distance to call your neighbour)
4) Also the biggest thing i hear is that you cant get a "smart ring" with your phone if your on VoIP. This mainly applies to those who use Fax machines. there is actually a piece of hardware that is sold at Radio Shak that offers to differentiate between fax and tele communications and will ring differently for you. these will run you around $70-100 canadian or $50-60 american.

hope this adds to the help this thread will offer to the unknowledgeable!


rdv714

@comcast.net
reply to vonsen
Three points. First Speakeasy has now a VOIP service, but they have some serious shortcomings. First, regional 800 numbers are a real problem with them. Numbers for people that route there 800 numbers based upon location such as the FAA, IRS and many retailers get always routed to New York. Second, Speakeasy forces you to always dial 10 digits even if it is a local call. Vonage supports 7, 10 or 11 digit dialing. Third, Speakeasy is NOT nomatic. They force you to put their adapters outside of your firewall and only allow their use on Speakeasy public addresses.


ronard

@mo24.xx.18.xx.charte
reply to sean_welling

Re: So you wanna try Voip?- Nikkom.com

great job- I have Voip for about 4 month and I'm very pleased- WWW.NIKKOM.COM they have a great deal and goog service- I really recommend.:)

Insight Tech7

join:2005-05-29
Kokomo, IN

1 edit
reply to vonsen

Re: So you wanna try Voip?

I can only say a couple things about "Voice over IP" and only about one of the largest providers out there. Here is how it really works without a nice diagram.
1-You pick up the phone it transmits a signal to the server stating it needs X amount of bandwidth to make the voice transmission.
2- The server replies with at the time whatever bandwidth it can squeeze out for that call.
3-Downfall of Vonage and most VOIP carriers is BANDWIDTH dedication or lack of. It may bounce the bandwidth one minute and decide not to the next because of traffic. They do not dedicate bandwidth for a fact they can not on there current set up.
3- We go back to the actual pick up of the phone the transmission signal travels back through multiple servers and networks to make a connection with hopefully an actual phone switching system if your lucky. Vonage noway it just grasp at any open net server to complete the loop. So you are in Texas the bounce of the transmission is most likely going to Chicago then to through 3-10 networks then where ever the end connection is destine say your brother just 5 blocks down the road from you. Two things you can count on with this type of service and it does not matter how good your actual ISP is either. Dropped calls and echoes over the line.
4-No 911 service available- True story family in Arizona a year or 2 ago finds their house is on fire. Not realizing that Vonage is non-911 compatable because of their open net service tries calling the fire dept dialing 911. She gets a message back stating this service is not available. Lucky for her a neighbor sees the fire and calls 911 on a regular phone service.
Telephonie service or cable phone. Born off the idea of VOIP but 100 times better telephonie service is available now through "Insight/Comcast" and a couple others. Advantage being they have their own backbone ISP servers. Meaning the call goes from your home to a local server via fiber lines within miles and then hits a regular phone switching box. Has all the nice freals of say SBC or Sprint but for less money and most times in a package deal. E-911 service ready and no dropped calls not to mention a perfectly clear phone line no echoes.
My advise to anyone that may think they could ever need 911 service and has Vonage re-think your service carrier.
Difference between standard 911 service and E911 service. Only one huge thing- E911 electronically sends your personal information to the 911 operator meaning if you are being robbed in the middle of the night and can not speak for fear of being heard you do not have to that operator will have your information within a tenth of a second from connection. Standard 911 service does not have this feature and Vonage has neither.