VOIP stands for voice over Internet protocol. That’s quite a mouthful, isn’t it? It takes audio signals form you phone and, using an adapter, turns them into digital information that can be sent over the Internet. This completely bypasses your traditional phone company.
VOIP can be used in three different ways. The first is ATA, or analog telephone adapter. This is the system that converts your own land phone for use over the Internet. You can call any phone number with this system. The second is IP, or Internet protocol. This uses a phone that looks like a regular phone but it has an Ethernet connector that connects directly to your router. Again, you can call any number. The third method simply connects a microphone to your computer and you can call computer to computer if you have a sound card and speakers.
There are advantages and disadvantages. The biggest advantage is cost. VOIP is much cheaper than the traditional land phone. The second advantage is that VOIP can be freer in its innovation because it is not tangled up in union rules. The third advantage is that there are lower infrastructure costs because the infrastructure already exists. A major disadvantage is that if there is a power outage, the system won’t work. Another disadvantage is that the system may or may not be able to call 911 and if it does, 911 won’t be able to tell where you are. The government has set a deadline for the industry to solve this problem. The third disadvantage is that directory assistance may or may not be offered.