A VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) phone does exactly what it says on the tin: makes and receives calls via your internet connection. This is a replacement for a standard landline, designed to bring benefits such as free international calling and low cost calls around your home country or region.
VoIP phones vary in their features and levels of sophistication – from a simple plug-and-play device to a cutting edge, customizable gadget. What level of technical knowhow do you need for a VoIP phone? Which type is best suited to your needs and budget?
In this article we’ll explore the different types of VoIP phones on the market today. We look at the features they offer, the benefits of each and any downsides you might not have considered.
What is a VoIP phone?
A VoIP phone is an IP-based telephone which plugs into your broadband router, rather than your standard analog or digital landline. You can use it to make free calls over your internet connection, reducing your telecommunications costs, or purchase a VoIP phone line and port your existing number to your provider for that purpose.
All VoIP telephony works on the same principle: voice data is digitized and transmitted via IP packets across an internet connection, rather than over traditional telephone lines. The carrier has their own gateway which routes the calls from the IP packets to and from your home IP address.
The benefits of VoIP:
Cheaper calls: Many VoIP providers offer free wireless phones with their service – this is because there’s no cost for the call once it’s routed over the internet. You won’t have any phone bills as such, as VoIP calls are free to make.
International calls: Some service providers allow free calling between VoIP users around the world. If you plan to make a lot of international calls, this could save you a great deal of money. It’s also possible to purchase a VoIP phone line from your current ISP and port your existing number from your old provider over for that purpose.
No need for a broadband router: With a VoIP phone, you don’t require a separate broadband router – the phone plugs into your existing home network and is powered by its own electricity supply. It makes low-cost internet calls using your existing connection.
Easy to set up: All VoIP phones are easy to set up – simply plug them in and respond to a series of prompts. No technical knowhow is required – you’ll be taking calls within minutes of setting the phone up correctly.
Software: You can use a VoIP phone with standard analog phones, or with your PC or laptop via Skype or similar services. They’re also available with advanced features such as HD voice.
A VoIP phone is designed to offer the same functionality of an ordinary telephone, but without the need for physical line connections or traditional telephone lines. This allows you to make and receive calls across your local network (LAN) or over the internet on a standard home PC or laptop (softphone).
What are the different types of VoIP phones available?
There are four standard VoIP phone types. You can also purchase a range of more advanced models on the market today, each with its own specifications and features:
A landline replacement: This is a regular telephone handset which plugs directly into your home’s internet system. It has a fixed line, corded handset which functions in the same way as an ordinary phone.
A VoIP phone can make and receive calls over your internet connection independently of your PC or laptop. Activate this functionality by sourcing outbound voice services from a provider, who installs their own gateway into your home network. You’ll have to pay for your calls, just as you would with a broadband router.
A VoIP alarm system: This is a phone which integrates with internet-connected security systems. Not only can it make and receive home telephone calls, but the handset also acts as an interface with your security system in order to trigger alarms or summon emergency services when necessary.
Some models come with a built-in camera and microphone so that you can monitor your home when you're not there, or even speak to visitors at the door via your computer screen. This phone is designed specifically for security purposes.
A VoIP cordless system: Some VoIP phones are designed to function as part of a home communication system. Some models can be used like cordless phones, allowing you to make and receive telephone calls using one handset while following your conversations on an in-built LCD screen which handsets display video feeds from each other.
For example, if you’re watching TV or cooking dinner, you can take a call on another handset in another room. This saves you the inconvenience of having to carry your phone around the house with you, or miss calls while you’re busy elsewhere.
A VoIP conference phone: If it’s a group call that you need, this is the type of VoIP phone for you. The handset has a loudspeaker built in, allowing up to three people to take part in a single call.
This is most commonly used for team meetings or speaking with multiple parties at once. Be aware that this phone type is not intended for use by individual end users – it’s primarily designed for business applications.
Get in touch with the leading business VoIP providers UK – menetalk.