What are VoIP and Internet Calls?
Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP) is a type of communication technology that uses a high-speed internet network to facilitate telephone services instead of the conventional or analog phone line. VoIP works by transmitting communication services majorly through the internet and over Local Area Networks (LANs). According to the latest report from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), there are over 493,000 VoIP subscriptions in New Mexico as of June 2021.
The two terms, VoIP and Internet calls, have similar meanings. Both use IP-network to facilitate voice and video calls alongside other multimedia services. The distinguishing factor in VoIP is that the internet serves as the medium for transferring telephone services to the recipient. In VoIP, information is transmitted using data packets over the internet. This is different from the conventional wireless telephone, which makes use of circuit switching transmissions.
How do VoIP and Internet Calls Compare with Landlines and Cell Phones?
There is a vast difference between VoIP and other telephone services like landlines and cellphones. Landlines, also known as Plain Old Telephone Services (POTS), use circuit switching transmission, where a pair of nodes come in contact with each other to form a dedicated route through the network, making communication possible.
On the other hand, VoIP transfers data in packets through packet switching, which happens over the internet. Unlike landlines, the data in VoIP arrives at its destination in distinct and separate small packets. On getting to the destination, the packets are rearranged in the order of sequence to make up the messages.
There is also a difference in the way voice sound waves transmit in landlines and cell phones. Landlines change voice sound waves into electrical signals that transmit these signals into copper wire before getting to the recipient. On the other hand, cell phones convert voice sounds into electrical signals and transmit them to the recipient via radio waves. VoIP, on its own, changes sound waves into digital signals before transmitting them to packets over the internet.
Internet or VoIP calls function with specialized equipment such as softphones, Analog Telephone Adapters (ATAs), and Internet Protocol (IP) telephones. Softphones are software-created telephones that provide for telephone activities on laptops and web-related communication devices. ATAs are adapters fixed to regular phones such as landlines and cellphones to facilitate VoIP calls.
The following are the advantages VoIP has over landlines and cellphones:
- Reduced Cost: Unlike traditional phones where charges occur per minute for any call you make, VoIP charges monthly from your internet service provider (ISP).
- World Wide Access: Another benefit of VoIP is that organizations can work at their convenience. With VoIP, they can remotely access and utilize fax, voice, and data services of their offices through the intranet.
- Network Flexibility: VoIP also eliminates the challenges of traditional phone networks. You can use your ATM, SONET, or WiFi as the base of your network.
- Quality features: VoIP offers a wide range of quality features, including call blocking, forwarding, automatic call distribution, and remote management.
- Collaboration: VoIP allows integration with other systems and enables staff to collaborate video, voice, and other telephone services from a single user interface.
Does New Mexico Regulate VoIP Providers?
VoIP Providers in New Mexico are generally regulated by the FCC 911 obligations imposed in 2005. The regulations apply to VoIP providers who offer interconnected VoIP services and allow users to make and receive calls from the regular telephone networks. Note that 911 calls via VoIP and 911 calls via normal telephone networks are handled in different ways.
According to the FCC, providers of interconnected VoIP services are mandated to comply with the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (CALEA) instituted in 1994. The CALEA seeks to ensure that telecommunications service providers provide facilities for responding to legal information requests by law enforcement agencies. The legal requests for information should be monitored so that the privacy of the information is not compromised. The service providers’ responsibility under the CALEA is to conform their specific operations to this act’s regulations.
Moreso, VoIP providers are required by the FCC to make contributions to the Universal Service Fund. The Universal Service Fund supports areas of high cost and subscribers who are income-eligible users in services that pertain to communications. It is noteworthy that some areas of these requirements may vary due to internet technology changes over time.
What Do You Need for VoIP Internet Calls?
The most important equipment required for a VoIP call is a high-speed internet connection. Other equipment includes Local Area Network (LAN) or other equipment based on your choice of VoIP method. The types of VoIP methods include:
VoIP method with a landline: Making calls with a landline requires an ATA and a portable telephone box. The ATA connects to a portable router or a phone wall socket.
VoIP method with a computer: To make VoIP calls with a computer, obtain a microphone, headset, or speakers. Additionally, install VoIP software like Skype, zoom, or Google Talk into the system. It is also possible to make calls with VoIP software to regular phone numbers, although it may incur more charges. However, making calls with a person who uses the same software has no charge.
VoIP method with a mobile phone: To make VoIP calls with a mobile phone, you need a smartphone with a VoIP application installed in it. Some of the different apps that enable internet calls on smartphones are WhatsApp, Line, Viber, FaceTime, Facebook Messenger, etc. No charge applies when both users use the same applications to make calls.
Are VoIP Numbers different from Regular Phone Numbers?
A VoIP phone number is similar to a regular and standard phone number having ten digits. However, there are some differences between a VoIP number and a regular phone number. They include:
- VoIP numbers are usually given to a specific individual per line, unlike regular phone lines that are assigned to fixed devices such as sim cards, phone lines, and handsets.
- VoIP numbers may be used outside the network jurisdiction it covers and can only be limited by internet connections. This is different from regular phone numbers that are limited to their jurisdiction.
- More than one person can use VoIP on several devices at a time. Since regular phone numbers are fixed, they can only be used by one device and one user at a time.
Unknown callers using regular and VoIP phone numbers can be identified with reverse phone lookup searches.
Can you Make Free Internet Calls?
Making free internet calls is possible provided that some requirements are met. The first requirement is high-speed internet and telephone service that makes free calls.
- PC to PC: Installing the telephone software to two computer systems allows users to make free calls anytime.
- App to App: The service in this category only works when the receivers on both sides have the same type of application installed on their devices.
- App to phone software: Here, you make free calls from mobile phones to a regular phone number.
- PC to Phone Application: This type of application allows free calls from your laptop or computer to a real phone number.