Should You ,VoIP?

My friend in Florida, Samuel, called me last week and immediately I noticed a difference in the sound quality compared to our usual conversations. At first, I dismissed it, thinking he was calling me from his cell phone. Five minutes into the conversation when the call suddenly dropped off I "knew" for sure he was calling on his cell. Until he called me back from his cell that is. It turned out that Samuel was using his regular home phone, but when he told me that he had a VoIP account that was all I needed to know.

What is VoIP? VoIP stands for Voice Over Internet Protocol which is a method for you to talk with someone via your broadband internet connection, cable or DSL. Your voice is translated into data and sent over the same connection used for your computer. VoIP has become popular because you can talk to people for just a few cents per minute...worldwide! In fact, in a recent ad I saw that one of the leading providers of this service is offering free calls to Canada and charging just 3 cents per minute for calls to Hong Kong and 6 cents per minute for calls to Copenhagen. People who frequently call international destinations love VoIP. Heck, at prices one-tenth the amount or less of conventional long distance rates VoIP does have a strong appeal for consumers.

Overall, plans seem to start at around ten dollars per month and increase to around forty dollars monthly depending on offerings selected. Many VoIP plans give plenty of "extras" as part of the package including:

Call Forwarding

Call Waiting

Caller ID with the name

Repeat Dialing

3-Way Calling

Voicemail

Call Blocking

911 Accessibility

I have seen plans that also offer widespread 411 accessibility, fax service, and virtual phone numbers which allow users to select phone numbers outside of their area code.

There are big drawbacks to VoIP and I learned what one of them was when I was talking with my friend in Florida: a power failure will mean that your phone will not work. My friend lives in an area of frequent lighting strikes and occasional power failures so each time there is an interruption he has to wait for power to be restored before he can call out from his home phone. Fortunately, he keeps his cell phone charged, but he does have to pay for most calls made on his cell. In some areas the savings from a VoIP account will be offset by cell phone usage.

911 calls also can be difficult to place; you may need to dial a lengthy ten digit number to the police, fire, or ambulance station instead costing you valuable time in an emergency. Some providers are working hard to overcome the problem, but it hasn't quite been done away completely.

In all, VoIP usage continues to grow and it will probably become an important way for many to place calls, particularly internationally. You can't stop power outages and 911 issues remain, so weigh your options carefully before making the move over to Voice Over Internet Protocol.

Matthew Keegan is The Article Writer who writes on just about any and every issue imaginable. You can preview samples from his high performing site at http://www.thearticlewriter.com

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