What are VoIP and Internet Calls?
VoIP is an acronym for Voice over Internet Protocol, a technology that allows communication over IP networks. VoIP routes information over broadband internet connections and supports all forms of telephone services in New Jersey. It converts voice into digital signals, enabling New Jerseyans to make calls from internet-enabled devices. According to the latest report from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), there are about 4 million VoIP subscriptions in New Jersey as of June 2021.
VoIP calls are also known as internet calls. These refer to the transmission of mobile and fast communications over IP networks. Unlike traditional telephony, where phone users make calls by connecting to a Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN), VoIP calls transmit communication over internet connections. This implies that voice calls, video conferencing, and text messages between phone users are conveyed over broadband connections when using VoIP.
How Do VoIP and Internet Calls Compare to Landline and Cell Phone Calls?
Landline phones in the United States, including New Jersey homes have pairs of copper wires running in from boxes called entrance bridges, usually at the roadsides. Entrance bridges are connected to telephone users' phone companies’ switches by some thick cables. Voice travels in small sound waves when spoken into landline phones. Phones then convert these sound waves into electrical energy that travels over wires to another telephone. On arrival to a call recipient, they are converted from electrical energy to sound waves and can be heard by the called party.
Cell phones call work a bit differently, and unlike landline phones, there are no visible connections or wires. A call made from a cell phone will search for the closest network base station and then routes the call to its recipient. Cell phones microphones turn voices into electrical signals, and their microchips rework radio waves using the electrical signals. These radio waves then scan the environment for neighboring towers where the callers' voices are transmitted to the recipients. This same process is turned over to allow real-time two-way communication.
VoIP converts a caller's voice into data packets using CODECs, routes it over an internet connection, and delivers it to its destination. A codec compresses an audio signal and transforms it into a digital format for transmission. It is then converted back into a decompressed audio signal for the recipient's hearing. Unlike having an open circuit as with regular phones, VoIP adopts packet switching technology where each packet travels on different routes but arrives at the same destination. Placing VoIP calls requires internet-enabled devices such as computers, mobile devices, and some specialized phones known as IP phones. IP phone users can do reverse phone lookup searches on incoming calls from VoIP numbers.
The benefits of telecommuting using VoIP are huge, compared to cell and landline phones. These include:
- VoIP offers service mobility for New Jerseyans. There are no physical restrictions as to usage. Users can make calls with VoIP irrespective of their locations per time. In the traditional telephone system, phone owners will have to engage their phone companies to transfer services and phone numbers when changing locations.
- Using VoIP service, New Jersey residents enjoy affordable calling rates. Instead of using telephone lines (wires) as in the traditional telephone system, VoIP utilizes internet protocol to make calls. Internet protocol used could be either an internet connection or a direct IP connection to a telephone service provider, or sometimes both. This makes calling using VoIP less expensive. Traditional telephone systems use expensive equipment to connect phone calls. Some VoIP services even offer free calls for both domestic and long-distance calls.
- VoIP makes participating in conference calls a lot easier for New Jerseyans. Instead of using dedicated phone lines, VoIP calls use a converged data network, making creating conference calls a simple task without paying extra costs. Using a traditional phone system to host a conference call typically attracts additional charges for each participant.
- As long as there are robust internet connections, VoIP users in New Jersey can be positive to enjoy clear voice quality when making calls. Also, the noise-repealing microphones in VoIP phones remarkably contribute to the superior voice quality during VoIP calls.
- VoIP offers increased security, especially for businesses in New Jersey. Fraudulent phone calls to employees of companies can sink them. VoIP can mitigate such threats using the improvements made in IP technology.
Does New Jersey Regulate VoIP Providers?
The Division of Telecommunications of the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (BPU) oversees the performance of telephone companies but does not regulate VoIP providers. The New Jersey Voice over Internet Freedom Act, introduced on June 7, 2007, prohibits regulation of certain aspects of VoIP by the BPU. This Act noted that imposing traditional state rate regulation on VoIP will undermine economic gains such as new jobs, customer choice, and massive capital investment.
What Do You Need for VoIP and Internet Calls?
The method of VoIP to adopt determines what you need for VoIP or internet calls. However, the one standard and necessary thing for VoIP calls is a broadband internet connection. Ethernet connections or full Fiber to the Premises (FTTP) gives New Jerseyans an excellent VoIP experience.
To use VoIP with a computer, you need a functional desktop or laptop computer, and of course, a stable internet connection. Computers require compatible software such as TeamSpeak, Skype, Viber, and Ekiga to make VoIP calls. Also, you will need a microphone and either a headset or a set of speakers.
If you intend to use VoIP with a landline, get a suitable telephone and an Analog Telephone Adapter (ATA). An ATA is a device that allows an analog phone to communicate over an IP network like the internet. It can connect to a modem, router, or directly to the cable coming into the user's premises.
For VoIP with a mobile phone, you need a smartphone, a strong internet connection, and an appropriate VoIP application. Applications such as WhatsApp, Skype, FaceTime, and Zoom are compatible with smartphones. You can use these applications to call others who use the same apps for free. It is even possible to make a call to a regular phone line using some of these apps, but at extra cost. Skype is one such application.
Are VoIP Numbers Different from Regular Phone Numbers?
VoIP phone numbers are different from conventional phone numbers in the following ways:
- VoIP numbers use IP networks, such as the internet or Local Area Networks (LAN), while regular phone numbers convey communication via copper wires.
- A regular phone number is fixed to a location. A VoIP phone number does not rely on a physical place to work. It functions in any neighborhood as long as there is an internet connection.
- A VoIP number is flexible. It can be used across multiple devices at the same time because it is assigned to an individual. Regular phone number owners cannot enjoy such flexibility.
Can You Make Free Internet Calls?
Yes. Making free internet calls, however, requires that you have applications that will allow you to do so. Applications such as WhatsApp, Google Voice, Google Duo, and Facebook Messenger will let you make free internet calls in the ways listed here:
- App to App - If the call recipient has the same application as the caller installed on either a tablet or smartphone, a free internet call is possible. Note that this option does not work with landline phones.
- PC to Phone - This option allows a free internet call from a computer to a regular phone number.
- PC to PC - You can make a free internet call between computers. It means that both the caller and the recipient will use their computers as long as they both have the same applications installed.
App to Phone - Free internet call is possible from an App to a phone. The caller must have installed a compatible app on any mobile device to be able to call a regular phone number.