What are VoIP and Internet Calls?
VoIP is the shortened form of Voice over Internet Protocol. It is a form of telephony service that allows communication over IP networks such as internet connections. VoIP is a technology that is now constantly reshaping the world's phone structures. Besides phone calls, VoIP extends to telephone services such as text messages, chats, and video calls. There are various VoIP service providers in Louisiana for residents who wish to replace their current telephone systems with VoIP. According to the latest report from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), there are about 1.2 million VoIP subscriptions in Louisiana as of June 2021.
VoIP calls are commonly referred to as internet calls. They are the type of calls that send communication from a caller to the call recipient using broadband internet connections as a medium of transmission. Internet calls could be PC to phone calls or PC to PC.
How Do VoIP and Internet Calls Compare to Landline and Cell Phone Calls?
VoIP calls work differently from cell phone and landline calls because it utilizes broadband internet connections for all communications. Calls on VoIP sends data (voice) from calling devices as data packets across the internet to connect to the VoIP provider. The VoIP service provider then uses the cloud-based Private Branch Exchange (PBX) to route the call to its destination. The data packets are converted back into voice signals at the receiving end of the communication. A cloud-based PBX works is a type of telephone switching system that is only accessible over the internet.
Landline calls use a Public switched Telephone Network (PSTN) to connect callers and call recipients. These calls pass several switches depending on whether their destination is local, regional, national, or international. Landline phones convert voices to electric signals and transmit them via copper wires to the central office where the signals are decoded. From there, the call is routed to the appropriate telephone exchanges where they are transmitted to the called parties. At this point, the electric signals are transformed back to sound waves.
Phone calls and audio data from cell phones are transferred wirelessly from cell to cell to reach their destination. These cells impose a grid pattern to ensure that multiple calls do not interfere with each other. The sound waves from a caller are transformed into an electrical signal and then converted back into sound waves on reaching the call recipient.
As obtainable in regular phone calls, reverse phone lookup services can fish out information on VoIP numbers. Using VoIP service for communications have the following advantages over landline and cell phone calls:
- Cost - VoIP calls offer a lower charge compared to regular phone calls. Communication on VoIP happens over the internet, unlike cell phone and landline calls that use expensive physical infrastructures to connect phone users. With VoIP, users can get free calls. Regular phone calls do not offer free calls.
- Scalability - VoIP is easy and cheap to scale as the users' need widens, provided they have large bandwidths. However, landline and cell phones require added phones to scale, which are additional expenses for users.
- Multimedia Transmission - VoIP can multitask. It transmits all types of multimedia between VoIP users, while regular phone calls only support voice calls.
- Extra Features - Add-on features on VoIP like call forwarding and waiting comes at no additional cost to users. Cell phones and traditional calls have limited add-ons that cost extra to their users.
- Portability - VoIP numbers are virtual and are easy to carry around. Unlike regular phone numbers assigned to specific area codes, VoIP users can use their numbers wherever they go, provided there are stable internet connections.
- Flexibility - VoIP users can place calls using softphones. Softphones are programs installed on computers and smart devices to facilitate VoIP calls. It implies that without physical IP phones, users can still make phone calls.
Does Louisiana Regulate VoIP Providers?
The State of Louisiana does not regulate Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) providers. The Louisiana Public Service Commission (LPSC) regulates other forms of communication in the state. It does not have any control over telephone service that runs on IP networks.
What Do You Need for VoIP and Internet Calls?
The principal thing you need for a VoIP or internet call is a stable internet connection. To get the best of VoIP calls, use Ethernet or the Fiber to the Premises (FTTP) connections. Other types of equipment to be used for internet calls depend wholly on the system of calling.
If you want to use VoIP with mobile devices, such as smartphones or tablets, install the appropriate VoIP applications on your devices. Users can make free calls to other people who have the same applications installed on their devices. VoIP applications that are compatible with most mobile devices include Facebook Messenger, Whatsapp, Skype, Microsoft Teams, and Facetime. And of course, this set-up requires a stable internet connection.
To use VoIP with a computer, you need a strong broadband connection, a microphone, and a speaker or headset. An internet call software like Skype, Google Talk, or Microsoft Teams must also be installed on your laptop or desktop computer. This connection allows you to make calls to other people with the same software for free, irrespective of distance.
Using VoIP with a landline phone requires a device known as Analog Telephone Adapter (ATA). These devices usually fit into routers or wall sockets, connect landlines to the internet and prepare them for VoIP calls.
Are VoIP Numbers Different from Regular Phone Numbers?
VoIP numbers are strings of digits assigned to users once they sign up for VoIP service. They are more like regular phone numbers in appearance but with the following differences:
- VoIP numbers can be used to make calls from any internet-enabled device such as mobile devices, computers, and IP phones.
- VoIP numbers offer the flexibility of being shared across multiple devices at the same time.
- VoIP numbers are independent of locations. They are not like regular phone numbers that get assigned area codes based on areas. VoIP users can be in a telephone service area and pick an entirely different area code different from their actual locations.
Can You Make Free Internet Calls?
You can make internet calls at no charge, provided you have all that is required to do so. Essentially, you and the called party should have the same software and applications installed on your devices to enjoy free internet calls. The following are methods that facilitate free internet calls:
- PC to PC - Same software installed on both caller and recipient's computers allows free internet calls.
- PC to Phone - This enables PC users to place free internet calls to regular telephone numbers.
- App to App - Free internet call is possible between smart devices with the same VoIP application.
- App to Phone - From mobile devices, this method makes it possible to place a free internet call to a regular phone number. The receiving device (landline or cell phone) must not necessarily have a VoIP application installed.