Save on long distance charges by plugging into a VoIP phone.
A VoIP phone allows you to make telephone calls over the Internet or any other IP network. This type of phone converts outgoing analog audio into a digital format and then takes incoming digital calls and switches them back to audio.
It’s become a popular way to make phone calls because it’s a way to place free phone calls and bypass the phone company. If you have ever contacted someone via Skype, you’ve been using VoIP software.
Free long distance calls and the ability to bypass the traditional phone companies is probably the biggest draw of this technology. But VoIP also allows for faster connections. Phone companies have also started using VoIP software to streamline their long-distance call networks – it’s just easier and faster to route phone calls through an IP gateway where the signal gets compressed and then reassembled.
Making a phone call using your computer can still be awkward -- there is little privacy and the sound quality can vary. VoIP solutions give you more control and more privacy.
Instead of plugging your home phone into the telephone jack, you simply plug your phone into an Ethernet connector, like those offered by NetTalk, magicJack and Ooma.
The NetTALK DUO II plugs directly into your router or computer so you can make low costs international calls but also have a fax-friendly phone line. Other features on this particular device include call waiting, conference calling, Enhanced 911 (previously a big issue with these phones) and visual voicemail. You can even keep your own number, so calls come to your home phone.
A slightly different version of the NetTalk Duo VoIP Telephone sends your voicemail directly to your email with the spoken message as an audio file. It also gives you access to caller ID and three way conference calling. I love that you can forward calls to your mobile phone for added convenience. And all of your calls within the US and Canada are free. It's really small and easy to carry to take it with you when you travel and you will be able to make calls wherever you go.
Another cool option is the magicJack Plus VoIP Phone Adapter. This has a mini processor in the jack that acts as the computer and turns any type of phone into a VoIP phone, giving it a local number. You can call anywhere in the US or Canada at no additional charge.
It shares many features with the NetTALK line, like using your own number and having the portability of making calls wherever you want. It is really easy to use and very convenient.
One last option you might consider is the Ooma Telo Voip System. It does most of the things that the other options offer including caller-id, call waiting and 911 service. It only offers free call in Canada, however, though its rates for international calls are very low. It has the added advantage, however, of coming with a bluetooth adaptor. Attache this to your home phone and suddenly you can answer calls from your smartphone right on your home phone. I love this feature, as I don't have to look for my cell phone when it rings in my purse and I am in the kitchen - my home phone will ring as well and I can use it to answer the call.
VoIP technology is slowly improving and making huge long distance charges a thing of the past. In the meantime, It is a great option for keeping in touch with loved ones far away on a regular basis.