VoIP Phones are the telephonic devices used for VoIP services. It can be a normal standard analogue telephone or the exclusive IP phones that can be used for VoIP communications only. If to eliminate the intermediary technicalities, both types of phones facilitate communication by sending the conversation as data packets over the internet to the recipient. In other words, unlike the conventional telephone communication, no wire transfer is made use of in the case of VoIP. In fact, this is the biggest advantage of VoIP phones. Since there are no wires, there are no much installation troubles, which further means less installation and maintenance costs for the customer. Further, since the communication takes place through the internet, the overall cost of a call is far lesser than a conventional long distance telephone call from a conventional phone. The only money a customer may have to shell out is the monthly tariff for the VoIP and internet service provider, both of which combined won’t cross £100 in normal cases.
Now let’s see how VoIP phones work. The VoIP architecture includes a broadband internet connection, a VoIP phone, router, and a gateway. The purpose of the router is to route the calls to the internet, while the function of the gateway – also called the analogue telephone adapter (ATA) – is to convert analogue signals to digital data packets before sending it over the web. Here, it must be kept in mind that for IP phones, since it comes loaded with all the required hardware and software components, it can be directly plugged to the router bypassing the ATA. Now, at the recipient’s end, the digital packets are reconverted back to the original analog format, and are then send over a Public Telephone Switch Network or PSTN to the number the caller had dialed. The whole process is many times efficient and quicker than the conventional wire communication.
Then there are soft VoIP phones or virtual VoIP phones that can be installed in a laptop or desktop. It works almost the same like the real VoIP phones, the only difference is that the dialing component here is simulated as a user interface on the monitor and the users have to click on it using a mouse to dial a number. Further, since the soft phone loads all the required VoIP features, no additional external components is required to make the call. All the behind scene technicalities will be managed by the service provider himself.
If there are any other advantages with VoIP phones, then it is that it gives the customers maximum flexibility at virtually no additional cost. While the traditional telephones are tied to telephone lines permanently, the ATAs can be taken with the customers to virtually any part of the world. Then by connecting it to a telephone and an internet connection, one could make VoIP calls to any other phone in the same ATA network for no cost. For other networks, it may cost a bit, but a lot cheaper than long distance calls.
Finally, all standard VoIP phones comes inbuilt with features such as caller id, repeat dialing, call transfer, and call waiting, which may be missing in most unsophisticated conventional phones. For advanced features like call forwarding, forwarding to voicemail box, giving busy signal to the caller if busy, or playing automated messages, however, the service provider might charge a fee. Such paid services also include the facility to check voice mails over the web or attach messages to an e-mail that is sent to one’s PDA/PC.