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As many people and businesses begin to move away from traditional landlines for phone service, it might be a great time to look into getting Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) for your home or office. Switching to VoIP is a simple process, which you can accomplish in four easy steps.
Step 1: Check with your Internet service provider.
Many Internet service providers include VoIP calling as an option with their regular packages. If yours does, this will make the process of switching extremely easy, as your service provider will likely send someone out to do it for you.
Regardless, you’ll still likely have extra fees for the add-on phone service, which cost around the same as a traditional landline. Your ISP will provide equipment that hooks right into your existing broadband network, so that will save you additional effort if you choose to go that route. Otherwise, you may need to find your own VoIP provider.
Step 2: Determine your quality of service.
If you don’t have broadband Internet, or your current service doesn’t have a large enough bandwidth, you may need to find a VoIP provider. VoIP requires a larger bandwidth than basic Internet connections provide so, in order to avoid dropped and garbled calls, it is important to discuss your usage and needs with your provider.
Some popular VoIP providers include Vonage, Anveo and magicJack, and most of them will install the service for you.
Step 3: Choose your router.
Next, if your VoIP provider doesn’t supply a router, which is rare, you’ll need to choose one. In determining which router is best for you, it’s important to be aware of how many people will be using it. Routers typically start around $40, but these work best with only one or two phone connections.
You’ll have to decide whether or not your VoIP phones will have their own dedicated Internet connection or if they’ll be tied to your existing Internet service. If separate, you’ll need a router that has a Quality of Service setting that will prioritize voice traffic in order to avoid dropped or missed calls.
Step 4: Choose your other equipment.
The type of equipment you’ll need depends on what you intend to use VoIP for and whether it is for your home or business.
For home use, Analog Telephone Adapters (ATAs) are most useful. ATAs are boxes that connect your telephone to a router so that it can run a VoIP service. There are many of these on the market, including magicJack and OBi VoIP Adapters. They simply need to be connected to your existing telephone line through an Ethernet cord to the router. You may also be able to use a Wi-Fi phone that, as the name implies, simply connects your VoIP service to a wireless router in your home or office.
For businesses, you’ll most likely need to choose an IP phone. They perform much like a multi-line business phone that uses a network cable to link to your current Internet connection.
Once you’ve decided on the best service and equipment, it’s a simple manner of having it installed. VoIP service is often more affordable than traditional phone lines. It provides you with opportunities to connect to family and friends without paying separate bills for phone and Internet. By following the steps above, you’ll be well on your way to connecting in the digital age.
Image by Alan Clark via Flickr