VOIP FAQs & Other

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Contents

Can I still make emergency calls ("000" - Australia only)

Stand Alone Internet Phone (IP Phone)

Software

Can I use my ordinary phone?

Do I Need a Computer to Make Internet Phone Calls � Not Necessarily

DID's - Real Phone numbers

Internet Phone Service Provider (IPSP)

Software

Equipment

Videophones

Microphone and Speakers

Headset with Microphone

USB Phone

ATA - Analog To digital Adapter

Router

Rates

Call Rates

Compare Call Rates

National Fixed Rate Calls

Foreign Providers

Terms

VOIP

Softphone

Broadband

Dial Up

ADSL

Cable

 

Can I still make emergency calls ("000" � Australia only)

THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT. There are currently issues with making emergency calls with Internet Phones as the software used by the emergency services may not be able to tell your geographic location which obviously can have serious ramifications. You should ensure that you have alternative means to make emergency calls. For Australia only the emergency call number is "000".

For ADSL users who must have a ordinary phone line connection you should still keep a phone hooked up to your ordinary phone line connection for this reason. Cable internet users do not need to retain an ordinary line connection but may wish to do so for this reason.

 

Stand Alone Internet Phone (IP Phone)

A stand alone internet phone is simply one that along with an adapter plugs into your broadband connection and does not require a computer at all.

 

Software

Software in this context is a program required to facilitate the voice communications. Most IPSPs provide their own or a licensed version of another company�s software. The software program may need to be downloaded or it may be contained within the equipment such as with a Stand Alone Phone. The software may also be called a Softphone.

 

Can I use my ordinary phone?

Yes you can use your ordinary home phone by using an analogue to digital adapter (ATA). Some of the companies listed provide the adapter. This is a good solution as you do not need to buy a new phone. If your phone is a wireless version it frees you up from being tied to the computer or wall connection.

 

Line Rental

To use ADSL Telstra requires that you also have a working Home Line. Although there have been some reports that it is not required, your safest bet is to keep your line rental active. You may consider switching to a lower cost option line rental with Telstra which may save you about $10 pm (Telstra Phone Line Plans). There have been reports that Telstra will deny you can do this but you can and should demand that they do so.

 

DID's Real Phone Numbers

Some Internet Phone Service Providers give you a new number which callers may use to call you. DID stands for Direct Inward Dial, which essentially means a normal telephone number that callers can dial to ring you.

 

Some IPSPs allow you to have additional DIDs connected to your phone. This is very useful as you can get DIDs in other national cities or even overseas. This will allow people in those places to call you for the cost of a local call. Have you got children or relatives in a capital city (see FaktorTel) or the UK (see Voipfone)?

 

Internet Phone Service Provider (IPSP)

IPSPs are companies that provide you with an internet phone service. Typically if you and the person you are calling are both subscribed to the same IPSP then your calls are free. Each IPSP has different call rates.

 

Do I Need a Computer to Make Internet Phone Calls � Not Necessarily

Some IPSPs provide a Stand Alone Internet Phone service. All you will need is a broadband connection and their service. They will usually provide the phone, the adapters and modems necessary.

 

Equipment

Videophones

Videophones are coming. Obviously it means that you will be able to see as well as speak to the other caller. Some IPSPs are about to bring these facilities online in the near future. You will of course need a special videophone or softphone for this purpose.

 

Microphone and Speakers

The cheapest way to communicate is to use a stand alone Microphone and your computers speakers. Some people report feed back issues but this may be avoided by muting the Mic balance option in your "Volume Control". You can purchase a Microphone from Big W for about $5.

 

Headset with Microphone

A Headset with a Microphone attached allows you to have your hands free to type or do other things. The downside is that you are limited in movement by the length of the cable to your computer. Headset range from about $10 to over $150.

 

USB Phone

USB Phones are similar in shape and size to your ordinary phone and simply plug into your USB port.

 

ATA - Analog to Digital Adapter

This is a device that allows you to use your normal phone.  You connect your phone to it which is in turn attached your your modem or router.

 

Router

A router is a device that allows a number of connections from multiple devices. It is used in this context to allow a connection for your phone and your computer to a broadband connection.

 

Rates

Call Rates

Call Rates vary between the different IPSPs. Most are similar in cost but there can be some large variations too. You should consider your personal calling intentions when selecting your IPSP. For example there are IPSPs that charge a flat fee for calls to National Cities (ie Sydney, Perth, Brisbane, Melbourne etc) and others that charge by the minute.

 

National Fixed Rate Calls

Most IPSPs charge by the minute but there are some that charge a fixed rate or untimed calls.

 

Foreign Providers

You can also consider using an international IPSP for your needs as the internet really doesn�t care where you are physically located. This might be an issue if one of the undersea cables get cut but this happens very rarely.

 

Terms

VOIP

VOIP means Voice Over Internet Protocol and the term is commonly used to refer to voice communication over the internet.

 

Softphone

A Softphone is a term that refers to a software program that allows you to use your computer to make internet phone calls using a headset and microphone etc.

 

Broadband

Broadband is a generic term for a high speed internet connection. It could be Cable, ADSL or Satellite but not dial up.

 

Dial Up

Dial Up is a slower internet connection using a modem through your home phone line. Most modern modems have a download speed of 56kbps and upload speed of 33kbps and are therefore not suitable for voice communications. However it can still be done although it can be patchy.

 

ADSL

ADSL stands for Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line, it is basically a broadband internet connection provided using the normal phone line system. The Asymmetric part means that the download speed is different from the upload speed. Hence ADSL services are usually described by their download speed/upload speed (eg 512/256 or 256/64). Other countries have a slightly different version called DSL.

 

Cable

Cable refers to a type of internet connection. Telstra and Optus are the only current cable internet connection providers in Australia. If you can get or have got cable TV then you should be able to get a Cable internet connection. The biggest benefit of cable is the very high download speeds available. However, the upload speed is limited to 128kbps but still very capable for Internet Phone requirements.

 

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