What is VoIP & How Does it Work?

If you want to make cheap or even free calls to anywhere in the world, you need to know about VoIP. Billions of people across the globe are already enjoying the benefits of VoIP broadband systems. 
 
Find out how you can save money by calling from the internet, with our guide to VoIP.

If you want to make cheap or even free calls to anywhere in the world, you need to know about VoIP. Billions of people across the globe are already enjoying the benefits of VoIP broadband systems. 
 
Find out how you can save money by calling from the internet, with our guide to VoIP.

Holly Niblett
From the Digital team
4
minute read
Do you know someone who could benefit from this article?
Posted 27 APRIL 2021

What is VoIP?

VoIP stands for Voice over Internet Protocol. Also known as IP telephony, it lets you make calls over the internet with a digital signal rather than using the traditional, analogue phone signal. 
 
By using an internet connection, users can make phone calls across the globe at a much lower cost - or if it’s a VoIP to VoIP call, for free.  
 
Thanks to faster broadband and advancing technology, VoIP is surging in popularity, especially among business users
 
It’s thought that VoIP will eventually replace traditional, copper-wired landlines for good. Broadband and phone providers like BT’s Openreach and Orange Business Services are already planning to move from existing telephone networks, to IP telephone services, in the next few years.  

How does VoIP work?

When you make a call using VoIP technology, your voice is transformed into digital data which is carried across the internet. This allows you to make calls from your computer, smartphone or tablet.  
 
There are several ways VoIP can be used: 

  • Device to Device – using apps like Skype, Google Hangouts and Facetime, you can call other VoIP users around the world for free.  
     
  • Device to landline – internet calls to a traditional telephone are still typically cheaper than through a traditional phone line.  
  • VoIP adaptors – for example, BT Digital Voice, plugged into your phone socket or router, enable you to make VoIP calls with a traditional landline telephone.  
  • IP enabled phones – for example, a BT Cloud Voice handset, enable you to make VoIP calls without the need for a special adaptor.  

What are the advantages of VoIP?

The main advantage of a VoIP system is you get much more, for less money. VoIP-to-VoIP calling from and to anywhere in the world is nearly always free. All you have to pay for is your internet access.

If you use VoIP to call an international landline number, the cost is usually significantly cheaper than a landline to landline call.

Other advantages include:

  • Good call quality, especially if you have super-fast fibre optic broadband
  • Everyone in the household can make separate calls from their devices
  • You can make and receive calls wherever you are as long as there’s a reliable and strong internet connection

VoIP offers even more advantages for businesses:

  • Reduced monthly telephone bills
  • Lower maintenance costs
  • Access to advanced features - call forwarding, voicemail, call blocking, caller ID and conference calling, for example
  • Flexibility and mobility, for example, video calls instead of face-to-face meetings; ideal for remote workers
  • Unlimited number of lines
  • Streamlined efficiency – just one supplier for both data and voice

What are the disadvantages of VoIP?

There are a few disadvantages of VoIP. These include the fact that VoIP requires a strong internet connection. Other disadvantages could include:

  • Possible lower speed connections for customers in rural areas
  • Could be a higher security risk depending on the level of internet security you have
  • You might not be able to call some numbers, for example, directory enquiries

What equipment do I need for VoIP?

For the most basic form of VoIP, all you need is a strong internet connection, an internet-enabled device like a computer, tablet or smartphone, and VoIP-compatible software, like Facetime or an app like Skype.

You can check your internet speed using our broadband speed test tool

For an enhanced VoIP experience, you may want headphones and speakers.

VoIP business broadband packages might also include IP handsets or adaptors as part of their call plans.

Costs can vary between providers, so it’s a good idea to compare a range of broadband packages to see which one suits you best.

Where can I compare broadband packages?

It only takes a minute to find a range of broadband deals through Compare the Market’s quick and easy comparison service.  
 
Compare broadband providers with us today and see if you could save by switching. 

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