What are VoIP and Internet Calls?
VoIP is a short form of Voice over Internet Protocol, a technology that facilitates access to telephony services over broadband internet connections. Michiganders can access VoIP services by using private Local Area Networks (LAN). Routers are usually used to connect different LANs to the internet. Michigan residents and businesses can use VoIP for communications as an alternative to traditional telephony systems. According to the latest report from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), there are over 2.7 million VoIP subscriptions in Michigan as of June 2021.
VoIP and internet calls are the same and frequently used interchangeably. Some people view VoIP as a type of internet call. In their opinion, VoIP calls are voice calls over broadband connections, while internet calls encompass voice, video, and fax calls. VoIP services are usually offered to subscribers as bundles with video and other value-added features that rely on broadband internet.
How Do VoIP and Internet Calls Compare to Landline and Cell Phone Calls?
Landlines run on Plain Old Telephone Service (POTS), a telephone service that connects phone calls through copper wires. POTS is also known as Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN). Landlines offer reliable call services, especially when there is a power failure and during natural disasters.
Cell phone calls are converted to electronic signals and sent over radio waves via the nearest cell tower. These radio waves get transformed to sound waves once they reach the call recipients’ end. The availability of cell towers in most areas helps cell phones deliver excellent voice calls. Cell phones are portable and enable Michigan residents to make phone calls on the go. However, places with poor network coverage may not enjoy good call quality at all.
VoIP uses technology that routes phone calls over broadband internet connections. It converts audio signals to data packets and routes them over the internet to call recipients. These packets are converted back to their original forms at the recipients’ end. Data packets do not reach called parties in the same order they were sent. A data packet could outrun another while traveling over the internet but get converted back into clear audio signals at arrival at call recipients’ phones. VoIP calls require internet-enabled devices such as smartphones, computers, specialized IP phones, and traditional landline phones (used with ATA) to facilitate communication. Reverse phone lookup applications can retrieve identifying information on a VoIP number.
The following are the advantages VoIP have over landline and cell phone calls:
- Flexibility and Portability: This feature of VoIP is great for businesses. Business owners can use a single VoIP number across multiple devices simultaneously, offering them the luxury of receiving calls anywhere provided there are internet connections.
- Cost: VoIP calls are more affordable because, unlike regular phone calls, they do not require expensive physical infrastructures to run.
- Add-On Features: VoIP offers extra features such as call detail records, remote voicemail, conferencing, and advanced call routing.
- Scalability: Adding more phone lines to an existing VoIP system does not attract additional costs like landlines and cell phones.
- Integration with other business tools: It is easier to integrate VoIP with CRM tools, sales tools, and email marketing tools compared to other telephony systems.
Does Michigan Regulate VoIP Providers?
The Michigan Telecommunications Act prohibits the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) from regulating VoIP providers. However, the MPSC can interfere in residents’ slamming and cramming complaints. As with many other states of the nation, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regulates VoIP service providers in Michigan.
What Do You Need for VoIP and Internet Calls?
A reliable internet connection is vital for VoIP calls. For the best VoIP experience, use Fibre To The Premises (FTTP) or Ethernet connections. Other requirements depend on the medium by which you intend to make the calls.
Landlines – To use landlines for VoIP calls, connect a compatible telephone to the internet using special adapters (ATA). An Analog Telephone Adapter (ATA) can plug into a wall socket or a router.
Computers – Web-based software on a computer can allow you to place VoIP calls. Skype, FaceTime, and Google Talk are examples of software you can install to make this happen. You will also need a microphone and a speaker or headset to facilitate the exchange of communication. VoIP calls between two subscribers using the same software on their computers are free. It is possible to call regular phone numbers using this method at minimal charges.
Smartphones – Installing the appropriate applications on your smartphone allows you to make internet calls. Applications such as Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, FaceTime, and Skype lets you make VoIP calls. The call recipient must also have the same application as you for such communication to happen. Phone calls between users on the same app are free, while calls to regular phone numbers using this method comes at a fee.
Are VoIP Numbers Different from Regular Phone Numbers?
VoIP numbers are more like regular phone numbers. However, there are slight differences between both. These include:
- VoIP numbers are assigned to individuals, while regular phones are usually fixed with specific devices.
- VoIP numbers are not limited to specific area codes. VoIP users can use their numbers anywhere at any time, provided there are reliable internet connections.
- A VoIP number can function across multiple devices simultaneously. With synced devices, users can receive and make calls as long as there are internet connections.
Can You Make Free Internet Calls?
Yes, VoIP users can make free internet calls. With a reliable internet connection and the right software or applications installed, you can make free VoIP calls using the following methods:
App to Phone – You can make free internet calls to regular phone numbers using some VoIP applications on mobile devices. Skype is one such application.
PC to Phone – This method lets you make free calls from your computer to standard phone numbers. You must, however, have VoIP software installed to facilitate such communication.
PC to PC – You can place free internet calls from a computer to other persons who have the same VoIP software as you on their computers.
App to App – Two persons with the same VoIP applications on their mobile devices such as smartphones or tablets can make free internet calls.