Broadband phone service (also called Internet phones) use the Internet instead of normal telephone circuits to transmit their calls. In the telephone industry, this kind of service is known as VoIP (voice over Internet protocol). Thatís a fancy way of saying that your phone connects through your modem over the Internet to any phone of any kind, anywhere in the world.
What most people may not understand about broadband phone service is that once you install it, which is easy, your phone will act just like it always has. You use the same phone, and it rings, you dial, and you answer your phone in the same way that you always have.
The best thing about broadband phone service however, is that you have some enormously beneficial features and controls over your phone service that you would never see offered by any phone company. Imagine being able to simply add a local line, anywhere in the country and have people dial that number just like they would for the business down the street and set it up in a few minutes.
One of the main selling features of broadband/Internet phone services is that because your conversation goes over the Internet, you donít ever use your installed phone line. There are no long distance call charges and no local service connection charges from Ma Bell.
This makes this kind of service incredibly versatile for small businesses that only need one or two lines. Where local telephone company basic line rates for small businesses start at $50-75 per line and then go up with those annoying little extra fees that they dream up (and of course donít forget long-distance rates), broadband/Internet phones are cheap. About $50 per month will get you unlimited minutes anywhere in the USA and Canada, and itís pretty cheap to call most other places as well.
Internet phone choices
Right now, there are a limited number of choices for broadband/Internet phone service (Vonage, Broadvoice, AT&T, and Primus) unless you want to start to get into some very sophisticated phone servers and software setups. However, new VoIP services are being launched every day.
In the beginning of 2004, you could count them all on one hand. Today, they are all over. Within 10 years, we believe most phone systems will be VoIP and by getting a jump on it, you will save tons of money in the short-run and have a better understanding of what you are buying later.
Internet/broadband phone catches
∑ You have to have a high-speed Internet connection such as cable, DSL, or T1. Even if you have another line for dialup (seems like a bit of redundancy anyway), the speeds of data transfer are not great enough to give you any kind of quality connection. Over dialup, connections, your Internet phone would sound like that cell phone connection that just about to go, only getting about 1 out of 4 syllables.
∑ Your broadband/Internet phone is subject to the same conditions as your ISP connections. If your connection goes, so does your phone connection.
∑ Despite what many people think, Internet phone calling is not free. There are some unlimited plans but they are geographically limited. Others will charge you a basic per minute fee or give you a certain number of minutes per month.