VoIP or Voice over Internet Protocol refers to phone calls made through the internet instead of a regular landline or mobile network. The technology converts analog sounds into digital data and transmits it over the internet or Land Area Network (LANs). Irrespective of the transmission medium, the two devices that support VoIP calls typically support a two-way communication channel. That means each of the two devices functions as a transmitter and receiver; thus, it is possible to speak and listen to someone at the end of the communication channel using the same device. The most common devices for VoIP calls are mobile phones and computers.
What Are VoIP and Internet Calls?
Voice over Internet Protocol is not different from internet calls. VoIP is also known as IP telephony, internet calling, internet telephony, and voice over a network. All of these designate the use of the internet to make calls. VoIP calls are calls made on the internet by transmitting voice signals as data to another user’s IP address. VoIP services are not limited to only phone calls. Other VoIP services include live chats, video calls, text messages, etc.
How Do VoIP and Internet Calls Compare to Landline and Cell Phone Calls?
Landlines make calls by converting voice into electrical signals transmitted over copper wires and telephone exchange. For a landline to work, the telephone must be connected to wires linking to the rest of the phone network. The network is made up of copper wires connected straight to the phone jack, a thick cable that runs along the road to the phone company's switch, or another box acting as a digital concentrator. The concentrator helps send the caller's voice to the phone company. If it is a local call, the switch simply creates a loop between the caller's and the recipient’s telephone.
On the other hand, if it is a long-distance call, the digitized voice is passed on to the long-distance network, where it must travel further until it reaches the recipient’s office. Cell phones do not require copper wires to make calls. A cell phone transmits electrical signals as radio waves. A microchip in the device then converts the signals back to sound waves as soon as it gets to the recipient. Cell phones are linked to mast towers. The towers serve as antennas directing phone calls to the recipients. Phone calls made from a mobile phone must pass through a local base station before reaching the recipient.
Scammers may spoof their phone number to relay an area code different from the caller's location. Residents can verify such calls with a reverse phone lookup application or a reverse phone number service provider. A reverse phone number search is one of the ways residents can protect themselves from phone scams. Unlike the traditional phone service where calls are routed through the local telephone company, VoIP calls make use of any broadband connection. A VoIP system accepts analog voice signals before converting them into digital signals. The system sends the digital signals to the recipient's IP address as data over a broadband line. Here are some of the advantages of using a VoIP service:
- Lower cost: The cost of running a VoIP service is less compared to traditional phone lines. VoIP also provides the individual with tons of premium features for no extra cost.
- Flexibility: VoIP is user friendly. It requires little or no technical assistance and can be used on the go. VoIP phones can operate with any device. Most VoIP phones also offer accessories to compliment your workflow, such as corded or wireless headsets.
- Better voice quality: Users can enjoy a seamless call experience using the VoIP HD feature. With a strong internet connection, users can enjoy better call quality.
- Multiple devices: VoIP can be used on multiple devices at the same time.
- Additional feature: VoIP users can enjoy extra features like auto-attendant, call forwarding, one-click conference call, and call queues.
Does Montana Regulate VoIP Providers?
Montana is one of the five states that are yet to pass a law regulating the use of VoIP technology, and the state commissions have also not asserted jurisdiction over service provided using this technology. Montana laws are technology-neutral. As a result, VoIP services are subject to the Montana Public Service Commission (PSC) under Montana’s current law. However, there are efforts at the federal level to preempt state control of VoIP services. Due to the continued deregulatory pressure from the federal level, the PSC may not regulate VoIP actively.
A telecommunication service provider or a VoIP service provider in Montana may request an alternative form of regulation from the PSC. The provider must submit a petition and a plan for the alternative form of regulation they want. The PSC may grant the request if the provider satisfies the following:
- The provider will not degrade the quality and availability of efficient telecommunication services.
- The alternative plan must be in the public’s best interest.
- The plan will improve telephone infrastructure and economic development in the state.
- The plan reflects a just, fair, and reasonable rate for telecommunication services.
Based on the above listing, the PSC may reject the proposal or issue a proposed order for modifying the plan submitted by the provider. However, the conclusion over an alternative regulation petition does not limit the PSC’s authority to conduct investigations or hear complaints, as provided in the state constitution. The request for an alternative form of regulation is constitutional, according to the Montana Telecommunication Act. VoIP enables scammers to spoof their phone number conveniently. Residents who have been targeted by scammers may use a reverse phone lookup application. Alternatively, individuals can contact a reverse phone lookup service provider for help.
What Do You Need for VoIP and Internet Calls?
VoIP requires a strong internet connection, preferably a fiber-optic network. These calls are better when the individual is using a full FTTP of ethernet connections. However, to enjoy any VoIP service, individuals require some special equipment. The exact equipment an individual needs for this service depends on the VoIP method they are using. There are three major VoIP methods: VoIP with an adapter, VoIP with a smartphone, and VoIP with a computer.
For VoIP with an adapter, the user needs an Analog Telephone Adapter (ATA) and a complete phone. Plug the ATA into a router or a working wall socket. If you are using a router, make sure it is compatible with the device. This method enables users to make VoIP calls with their landlines. For VoIP with a smartphone, the user needs a smartphone connected to the internet and a chosen phone application.
Applications like Google Talk, Skype, and Apple Facetime allow individuals to call anyone using the same software. This VoIP method supports both short and long-distance calls. To make a VoIP call with a computer, individuals need the right software, a microphone, and a headset. However, using a PC to call actual phone numbers usually attracts phone charges.
Are VoIP Numbers Different from Regular Phone Numbers?
A VoIP number is a telephone number without the common barriers of traditional phone numbers. A VoIP number is different from the regular phone number in the following ways:
- A VoIP number utilizes data networks such as the internet and internal enterprise Local Area Network (LANs).
- A VoIP number is not assigned to a location, but a regular number is.
- VoIP numbers are not assigned to specific phone lines or devices. They are assigned to the individual, and they can use it on more than one device.
- The same VoIP number may be used on multiple devices at the same time.
Can You Make Free Internet Calls?
Residents of Montana can place or receive calls on the internet for free. This is possible when they have the necessary device, software, and a working internet connection. The Internet support free phone calls in the following ways:
- App to App: Smartphones and tablets support various applications that enable internet calls, but phone calls can only work when the recipient has the same application installed. This method can not be used to call landlines. Most of these apps require downloading and installation, and users must also find an app that is compatible with their phone's operating system.
- PC to Phone Applications: Some PC programs allow users to place a phone call to a regular telephone number without using a mobile phone. Users can call anyone with their computer as long as the recipient has compatible software on their device.
- App to Phone Software: Some software support free internet calls from a mobile device to a real number. This allows you to call any number, even landlines and phones that do not have the app installed on their device.
- PC to PC: Residents may use a computer to place a free call to another computer. However, it is pertinent that both PC's have the appropriate applications installed in them.