What Are VoIP and Internet Calls?
Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) is the use of any device to make voice calls over the internet as opposed to the traditional mobile network. It involves two devices, such as adapters, phones, or computers, connected in a two-way communication channel. When the call is initiated, the VoIP system converts the callers’ analog voices into digital data and sends it from one end to another.
Apart from using a broadband connection, VoIP calls can be transmitted over Local Area Networks (LANs). Most corporate organizations in Rhode Island make VoIP calls using a Private Branch Exchange (PBX) phone system. It is a system that connects two different VoIP callers. According to the latest report from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), there are over 314,000 VoIP subscriptions in Rhode Island as of June 2021.
VoIP calls, sometimes called internet calls or internet telephony, refer to calls placed over the internet by transmitting voice signals as digital data to a recipient. The type of VoIP call users make depends on the subscription plan they have with their service providers. Some service providers allow users to call only individuals subscribed to a VoIP service, while others allow subscribers to call anyone they want. Users can call landlines and regular telephone numbers, whether local or international.
How Do VoIP and Internet Calls Compare to Landline and Cell Phone Calls?
Calls made via a regular analog phone line are different from landline and VoIP calls. Cell phones facilitate calls by transmitting electrical signals as radio waves. Before the signals get to the recipient, a microchip in the device converts the electrical signals back to sound waves. Calls made via a cell phone need to be routed to their destination. This is possible since cell phones are linked to nearby mast towers and a local base station. However, while both systems may enable individuals to make calls, they can not protect them from scammers.
In Rhode Island, scammers may spoof their phone number to display an area code that the target is familiar with. Residents can verify caller ID calls with the help of a reverse phone lookup application. Alternatively, individuals can contact reverse phone number service providers.
Landlines support phone calls by converting voice sounds waves into electrical signals transmitted over traditional copper wires and telephone exchange. A landline system includes copper wires, cables, and a phone company switch. All calls made via landlines are routed until they reach the recipient's phone company. The phone company's switch creates a loop between the caller and the recipient’s telephone.
VoIP transforms voice signals from a phone or PC to digital signals sent over the internet. Users can make calls directly from a computer, a special VoIP phone, or a regular phone connected to a special adapter with VoIP. Here are some of the advantages of using a VoIP service:
- Mobility: VoIP can bring tremendous benefits if your business requires mobility. Unlike a traditional phone line assigned to a home or workplace, VoIP does not impose any physical limitation. Individuals can do their business on the move without any stress.
- Multi-tasking: VoIP allows users to perform more than one operation simultaneously. Users may forward messages to their voicemail and analyze call data while having a conference call.
- Reliable: VoIP allows users to decide where to forward calls and how they are forwarded. This means that power outages may not affect the individual's productivity and accessibility.
- Better voice quality: Individuals can make and receive calls with HD voice quality. All that is required is a strong internet connection and a working device.
- Lower cost: The cost of running a VoIP service is less than that of traditional phone lines.
Does Rhode Island Regulate VoIP Providers?
Telecommunication and broadband services in Rhode Island are regulated by the Rhode Island Public Service Commission (RIPUC). The RIPUC maintains limited jurisdiction over phone services within the state. However, the RIPUC does not regulate the activities of VoIP services in the state. VoIP providers are exempt from the RIPUC, as stated in the RI. Gen. Law. 39-28-3. Nevertheless, all VoIP service providers must register with the RIPUC. The commission may also assess the fees of VoIP service providers in the state.
What Do You Need for VoIP and Internet Calls?
Like the name implies, internet calls require strong internet connection. Internet users may get a fiber-optic network, and full FTTP or ethernet connections for a seamless call experience. Since VoIP services can be enjoyed on different devices, there are no strict requirements for making a VoIP call. What is important is that the individual identifies the accessories required to make VoIP calls on a particular device.
The three major VoIP call methods are VoIP with a smartphone, PC, and landline. For VoIP with a smartphone, the individual requires an internet connection and complete software. Users can make both long and short distance calls with smartphone software. Phone applications like Skype and Apple Facetime enable internet calls. It is pertinent to highlight that this type of call can only be made when the caller and recipient have the application installed on their phone.
Users require an adapter for landline calls or any other compatible phone, preferably an Analog Telephone Adapter (ATA). Users can plug the ATA into a router or a functional wall socket. The individual must ensure that the router is compatible with their device. Individuals can also make a VoIP call with their PC. To do so, the user requires a microphone, a headset, and the right software. The individual can also use an adapter, but this is optional. Users may place VoIP calls to another PC or a regular phone number. However, calls from a PC to a regular phone number may attract phone charges.
Are VoIP Numbers Different from Regular Phone Numbers?
A VoIP number is a telephone number that is not restricted by the common barriers associated with traditional phone numbers. A VoIP number is different from the regular telephone number in the following ways:
- VoIP numbers use a broadband internet connection to make calls.
- VoIP is not assigned to specific phone lines or devices, but individuals.
- A VoIP number may be used on more than one device simultaneously.
- A VoIP number is not restricted by location.
Can You Make Free Internet Calls?
Internet users enjoy a range of free services, and phone calls are one of them. Individuals can make free calls as long as they have a working internet connection, a device, either a phone or a computer, and compatible software. Residents of Rhode Island can make free internet calls in any of these ways:
- App to App: This type of internet call is only available to smartphones and tablet users. These devices can download applications that enable internet calls, as long as both parties to the call have the same application installed on their device. This method can not be used to call landlines, and they require a stable Internet connection.
- PC to Phone Applications: Some PC programs are designed to enable phone calls to a regular telephone number. Individuals who have such programs installed on their devices can make calls without needing a mobile phone. Users may call anyone having compatible software on their device.
- App to Phone Software: Users can make free internet calls from a mobile device to a regular phone number. App to phone software feature allows you to call any number, including landlines and phones that do not have the same app on their device.
- PC to PC: Residents may use a computer to place a free call to another computer. However, it is pertinent that both PC's have the appropriate applications installed in them. A reverse phone number search may not be of help to identify where a call is calling from.