Getting a voice over IP (VoIP) service at home is as easy as setting up any online service. It is really just a question of choosing a service and / or provider and following the simple step by step instructions. Once they have set it up on their network, you will be able to make and receive calls in the usual way. Hosted VoIP is already used widely in business and it is also being used more and more in the home.Back to top
What is VoIP?
Voice over IP (VoIP) is a way to communicate with voice over the Internet. Instead of the old analogue connections that used to carry voice signals, they are carried digitally through your broadband service.
The VoIP service itself is all managed in the cloud. It’s what’s called a hosted service, which simply means that it is ‘hosted’ on a server by the service provider; that could be in their own or a shared co-location data centre (in effect, a private cloud), or on a public cloud service. Either way, it does not matter to you – as long as it works.Back to top
Benefits of VoIP
It is simple and flexible and very cost-efficient. Wherever you go, your VoIP service can go with you. If you move to a new house, your VoIP service can be moved along with your broadband. There is no need to change or transfer the number. It’s flexible too, so it’s easy to add extensions if you need them and use the phone all over the house. You may also be able to use your VoIP service on your laptop, tablet, or smartphone.
The overall cost of VoIP won’t be that much different to a standard phone service – but there are different packages available that include things like free or reduced-cost calls to mobiles and to international destinations and these can help you to reduce the overall amount you pay considerably. It is well worth seeking out all the available options.Back to top
Where do I get VoiP?
Most service providers, like BT Broadband and Plusnet, offer VoIP services as part of their wider portfolio. However, there are also dedicated VoIP companies who are already well-established and offer a range of different services.
Most of these are mainly business-focused at the moment because that’s where they are most likely to get the fastest return on their investment in setting up and running a VoIP service. The flexibility, scalability, manageability, and the cost savings that VoIP delivers, have a really strong appeal for businesses
Don’t imagine there is not much choice, there are plenty of suppliers and options out there. You can buy services directly online or as part of your broadband deal. But if you are unsure of how to go about it, you should consult a trusted and established third party expert.Back to top
Getting a VoIP connection
It is really just a matter of selecting a supplier and getting on with it. It’s almost certain that your Internet Service Provider will offer VoIP or hosted voice (which is just another way of describing the same thing) options. If your needs are fairly simple, it will probably make sense to go with one of these, but there are also third parties who will offer great services.
If you have specific needs – if you make a lot of international calls, for example, it is well worth taking time to look at the different VoIP services that are available.Back to top
Checking your network connection
For VoIP at home just about any broadband connection ought to do the job for you, as long as it is strong and stable. However, it is worth checking with your ISP and whoever is providing your VoIP service that you do have a sufficiently-good connection to support good quality voice communications. If not, you may need to upgrade.Back to top
How to set up you VoIP hardware
There is nothing really complicated about setting up VoIP hardware. Your supplier should provide you with a dedicated handset, which will almost certainly be wireless. You would simply plug the wireless receiver for the handset into your router. You will also need to connect the handset to a power supply.
It is worth remembering with VoIP that, if you switch off your broadband router, it won’t work. All calls – made and received – will go through the router, so you need to keep it on 24/7 if you want your phone line to be open and available.
Other than that, you should not need any other special hardware for home use. If you need more than one handset, that should be no problem, you will just need to make sure that the handset can connect to the router in a stable way and with sufficient bandwidth. Trying to use a second handset on the second storey of a big house, or in an office or den at the bottom of the garden might be an issue there is not a strong enough WiFi signal.Back to top
How to use VoIP apps
Your VoIP service provider may give you access to an app that will allow you to make changes to your service and even to use it on your laptop, tablet, or smartphone. This is one of the really big benefits of VoIP and something you simply could not so with an old analogue phone line.Back to top
How to make the best use of VoIP at home
It really depends on your needs; you want simple want to use a phone in the traditional way, by picking up a handset and keying a number to make calls and picking it up to answer incoming calls whenever the phone rings. Alternatively, you may want to use the full flexibility of a VoIP service to have additional handsets around the house, save money on regular and international calls, and also make and take calls on your personal devices.
Just make sure that you have a good broadband service provider that can support the full capabilities of the VoIP service, and that you have a full understanding of what’s available from your provider.Back to top