What Is Internet Phone Service?
What is Internet phone service? The best way to call people – worldwide!
Internet phone service bypasses the old telephone monopolies to offer subscribers a broad range of useful tools like; call forwarding, call hunting, cloud-based voicemail, and multiple lines – using the internet.
But, what is internet phone service?
It goes by various names; including Voice Over Broadband (VoBB), Internet Telephony, IP Telephony, VoIP, and broadband phone, but it all means the same thing: Using the internet to make phone calls.
Let’s take a look at:
- The history of the internet phone
- How it works
- The advantages of using an internet phone
- Cons of using internet phone services
- What is Internet phone service for business?
A History of VoIP
VoIP stands for Voice over Internet Protocol. Instead of using traditional copper wire to send calls; VoIP telephones utilize an Internet connection. Although VoIP has been attracting quite a bit of attention in recent years; it’s not a new technology at all.
It Began with an Experiment
What is internet phone service, if not the result of years of research?
VoIP grew out of an experiment by the U.S. Department of Defense in 1973 and has been around in various forms since then.
VoIP is just the transmission of voice traffic across IP-based networks. Although Internet Protocol (IP) was originally conceived as a networking solution; its success in becoming the world standard for data networking ultimately led to its adaptation for voice communication as well.
Early Innovations Paved the Way
What is internet phone service without these three innovations that preceded it?
- The telephone
- The Internet
- Internet Protocol
It Started With Alexander Graham Bell
The phone was invented in 1870 by Alexander Graham Bell, and the first commonly used phones needed an operator at the switchboard to successfully relay calls between people.
By the 1960s AT&T had introduced the touch-tone technology that home phones still use today. This allows for the digital switching of calls, and it virtually eliminated the need for a human operator.
The Internet first appeared in the 1960s as the brainchild of the Advanced Research Projects Agency Network (ARPANET). It was a rudimentary, private network used to provide communications between the Department of Defense and the U.S. Military.
The late 80’s and 90’s brought this technology into everyday use.
This is when the Personal Computer (PC) began gaining ground as an essential tool for home and business. With a PC you could subscribe to an Internet Service Provider (ISP), such as AOL, and dial into the network via your phone line to access the public internet.
The most popular network protocol in the world; the TCP/IP protocol suite – was designed in the 70s by 2 DARPA scientists: Vint Cerf and Bob Kahn, now known as the fathers of the Internet.
TCP/IP is the communications protocol used for the Internet and other networks. It was named from the two most critical components in it:
- Transmission Control Protocol (TCP)
- Internet Protocol (IP)
The Original iPhone
VoIP began to take off in 1993 with an Israel-based company called VocalTec.
VocalTec pioneered the first rudimentary Internet phone for consumers. Called VocalChat; it was software that enabled voice communication between one PC and another on a local or wide area network.
This company also pioneered VocalChat LAN/WAN; a hardware and software product that enabled real-time conversations over local and wide area computer networks.
What is Internet Phone service by the mid-90s?
They next released the first VoIP application in February of 1995. It was named Internet Phone, but many people simply called it the iPhone: A VoIP based PC to telephone software solution which required that both users run the same software.
Using VoIP; standard (analog) voice calls are converted into data packets. These packets travel like any other kind of data, such as instant messaging or e-mail, across any public or private IP network.
What is Internet Phone Service Pricing?
Because data transmission is already a feature of internet service; VoIP allows for virtually free voice communication between computers on the network.
Of course, if you want the convenience of an assigned phone number and the popular amenities like voicemail, caller ID, call forwarding, and call blocking – you’ll need to subscribe to a VoIP provider at added cost. But for basic communication using a PC, speakers, and a microphone; VoIP is as free as email service.
VoIP, unlike plain old telephone service (POTS), isn’t dependent on location or distance.
Since VoIP is Internet-based; you could be calling someone on another continent or calling your mother on the other side of town, and it won’t make any difference regarding call quality or cost.
You can also make or receive phone calls anywhere you have a broadband connection just by logging in to your VoIP account. VoIP is as easy as e-mail when you’re traveling. Just take a headset or Internet phone and talk to family or friends wherever you can access the internet.
A VoIP phone number, unlike a standard number, is portable. Commonly called a virtual number; you can take it with you anywhere you travel. Moving? Even if you change your address to a different state, your phone number will go with you.
Unlike standard telephone service providers (who typically charge for extra features) VoIP includes many extras, like:
- Call forwarding,
- Call waiting,
- Caller ID
- Three-way calling
All at no extra charge – you can even send pictures and documents while you’re talking on the phone.
VoIP phones will work with other Internet-based services, including:
- Video calling
- Instant messaging
- Data file sharing during the conversation
- Audio conferencing
Additionally, most Internet phone services will allow you to create/manage contact lists and also display information regarding the online status of friends or colleagues.
Advantages of VOIP for Business
It’s difficult to predict how many lines you’ll require as your business grows. With a traditional phone system, you must carefully consider your needs to avoid spending money on lines you won’t use.
Using VoIP for your business; you can add a line as quickly as you add new employees, and when someone leaves, it’s easy to reassign or eliminate that line. You’ll always have the right number of phone lines.
The Disadvantage of Using VOIP
The main drawback to relying on VoIP service can be summed up in one word: electricity.
Regardless if an entire city suffered a blackout; your POTS phone line would continue to work perfectly well. Being reliant on a network that’s powered by the same electricity that your home and business rely on – means that when it goes out, so does your ISP, your devices, and your VoIP service.
What is Internet Phone Service Going Forward?
The trend is clear; VoIP is growing more popular by the year as people become accustomed to the convenience, low cost, and features exclusive to Internet phone service, like:
- Video calling
- Sharing files
Traditional phone service will eventually become like the rabbit ear antennas that people had on their television sets before cable– just an anachronism we’ll only see on reruns of old TV shows.