What Is VoIP?

What is VoIP? Voice over Internet Protocol is a phone service that can save you money on your phone bill and give you extra calling features.

VoIP is an alternative to traditional circuit-switched phone service (also known as POTS - Plain Old Telephone Service).

VoIP is a system that uses your Internet connection to take and place phone calls.

Have you heard of Skype? That is what VoIP is, basically. PCs can use virtual phones (programs like Skype) to make calls because everything is digital with VoIP.

With VoIP, voice is converted into data packets, compressed for transportation, and sent over broadband Internet. Once it your call reaches the final destination, data is then uncompressed and converted from digital to analog at the call destination.

What is it that makes VoIP better than landline phone service?

VoIP is cheaper, convenient, and full of features that are more expensive with PSTN (public switch telephone network) service - that is what makes VoIP better than landline service.

VoIP takes advantage of newer technology and it's more efficient for consumers to use one type of physical cable for communication than several. In other words, you use only broadband cables instead of broadband cables and narrowband wires for two different services.

VoIP is also versatile. Phone service can be conventional or unconventional. It can run off of your computer with a softphone program or with a USB phone. You can use IP phones or plain old telephones with adapters for VoIP.

For a business, you can keep your conventional PBX with a SIP trunk, or you can use a hosted PBX from a VoIP provider.

A home landline with AT&T will cost you around $20 a month for local calling, and $20 more for long distance. That's at least $40 a month, unless you want added features like caller ID (which can cost $5 a month) or voicemail (again $5 a month).

Residential VoIP phone service will cost you around $10 to $20 a month, which includes local and long distance as well as some standard calling features. These features, common to all VoIP providers and included for free with subscription:

  • caller ID
  • call waiting
  • voicemail
  • 3-way calling

International calling also has very low rates because VoIP uses the Internet. If you make a lot of long distance or international calls, VoIP will definitely lower your phone bill for this purpose.

That's why we think VoIP is worth looking at for phone service: efficiency, versatility, and the service is cheaper than basic landline. If you have a fast broadband Internet connection, VoIP phone service is very possible for you.

Read our FAQ on VoIP or check out some VoIP service providers below.

Compare Residential VoIP providers
Provider Plan Details Long Dist. Monthly Fees Set Up/ One Time Fees User Rating

VoIP Phone Service

  • 2 months free, any plan
  • Phone adapter provided
  • No contracts, no cancellation fee
0¢/min $8.32 $0.00
4.2551

Freedom Unlimited

  • Free 2nd line
  • Free equipment
  • 60 free international minutes
0¢/min $5.99 $0.00
4.297985

VoIP Service

  • Unlimited Calls to US/Can
  • Over 45 Features + Free 2nd Line
  • Free international call allowance
0¢/min $6.21 $0.00
4.025

Home Phone Service

  • Unlimited USA and Canada calling
  • Free hardware and activation
  • Money back guarantee, 30+ features
0¢/min $6.25 $0.00
3.79091

magicJack Plus 2014

  • 2013 Frost & Sullivan Consumer Choice Award
  • 24/7 customer service – Keep your Phone Number
  • 6 Months Free, then $29.95/yr. or $99.75 for 5 yrs.
0¢/min $0.00 $49.95
2.61017

  • No long-term contract
  • Voicemail transcription
  • Works with your mobile phone
0¢/min $6.99 $0.00
4.473915