What are VoIP and Internet Calls?
VoIP stands for Voice over Internet Protocol. It is a service that allows phone users to make phone calls using computers and other internet-enabled devices. Residents of Hawaii can make long-distance calls for free using this service. They can also save money while calling international numbers using VoIP service in place of regular calling cards.
VoIP works by sending voice data in small packets using IP networks rather than Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN). According to the latest report from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), there are over 382,000 VoIP subscriptions in Hawaii as of June 2021.
Internet calls are commonly known as VoIP calls. These are calls that use broadband internet as the transmission medium for telephone calls. VoIP calls send speeches from callers to call recipients over Internet Protocols (IPs) as opposed to the circuit-switched telephony used by the traditional PSTN. Besides allowing voice calls, phone users can use internet calls for other telephony services. They can place video calls or send multimedia messages using VoIP.
How Do VoIP and Internet Calls Compare to Landline and Cell Phone Calls?
Although VoIP, landlines, and cell phones all support voice calls, they do so in different forms. When comparing these three, it is vital to note that sound travels in varying ways.
Analog signals from landline calls are converted into electrical energy and then travel through a pair of cables (copper wires). When a call is placed, the local network's circuit switches connect the caller to a public telephone network. During a landline phone call, the analog signals traveling through copper wires continue to change frequency until they get to the call recipient.
Making phone calls using cell phones does not require wire connections of any kind. Cell phones use radio waves to communicate and contain at least one radio antenna that transmits or receives radio signals. They convert callers' voices into electric signals, which are then routed to the nearest network masts through radio waves. The network masts transfer the radio waves to the right call recipients' phones, which convert them to electrical signals and finally back to the original information passed by the caller.
VoIP calls use packet-switched technology, converting callers' voices into digital packets and routing them over broadband internet connections. When making calls using VoIP, analog voice data is encoded into digital data and is re-coded into voice signals at the called parties' end. The conversion is done by a software known as CODEC (coder-decoder). Internet-enabled devices are required to make VoIP calls. It is possible to retrieve information on VoIP numbers using websites that offer reverse phone lookup services.
Despite offering similar functions, VoIP calls have some advantages over landline and cell phone calls. These include:
VoIP calls are cheap compared to landline and cellphone calls because they take place over internet connections. Users mostly get to pay for internet access rather than for call minutes. Calls on traditional phone systems, on the other hand, are expensive because they run on large physical infrastructures.
With reliable internet connections, voice quality is usually better with VoIP calls than with landline or cell phone calls.
VoIP calls can be placed anywhere, provided there are available internet connections. Users can also receive calls anywhere they are using their internet-enabled devices.
VoIP offers additional features that are not available with both landline and cell phone calls. For instance, with VoIP, users can make video calls, send multimedia messages, and make anonymous call rejections. Advanced features such as call recording, call queuing, and call parking are also available with VoIP service.
VoIP services are not tied to specific devices or physical locations. Users can take their VoIP numbers with them wherever they go and still communicate as long as there are internet connections.
Does Hawaii Regulate VoIP Providers?
It does not. Hawaii Public Utilities Commission (PUC) manages cellular, mobile telephone, and other services of telecommunications providers in the state but has no jurisdiction over VoIP providers. A list of all regulated utility providers in Hawaii confirms this statement.
What Do You Need for VoIP and Internet Calls?
To make VoIP or internet calls, you primarily need a reliable internet connection. More preferable is an Ethernet or FTTP connection for an excellent call experience. Other requirements depend solely on the method of VoIP you intend to use. You can make internet calls using these methods and equipment:
Mobile Devices: To make VoIP calls using a mobile device, you need either a smartphone or a tablet with a reliable broadband connection. Applications like Skype, Google Voice, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and Zoom installed on your choice device lets you make internet calls. Some of these applications facilitate calls to regular phone lines at minimal costs.
Landline Phones: These phones cannot make VoIP calls without first connecting them to the internet. An Analog Telephone Adapter (ATA) lets you connect a landline phone to the internet for VoIP calls. Adapters typically plug directly into routers or wall phone outlets.
Computers: Software such as FaceTime, Google Voice, Microsoft Teams, and Skype installed on a PC (desktop or laptop) can facilitate internet calls. In addition to these programs, you need a microphone and a speaker or headset. Computer VoIP calls allow communications between users who have the same software on their PCs.
Dedicated VoIP Phones: VoIP or IP phones and traditional analog phones are similar in appearance. However, rather than connecting to phone lines, IP phones connect to computer networks and let you make internet calls.
Are VoIP Numbers Different from Regular Phone Numbers?
VoIP numbers are much like regular numbers. They are the sequence of digits dialed to make phone calls, as would standard phone numbers. There are, however, some significant differences between the duo. These include:
- VoIP numbers can make or receive calls using various devices like smartphones, computers, or tablets. They are assigned to specific users, unlike regular phone numbers that are allocated to particular phone lines.
- VoIP numbers transmit calls over internet connections, while regular numbers route phone calls via either copper wires or radio waves.
- Unlike regular numbers, VoIP numbers are not tied to specific area codes. Users can take their VoIP numbers with them and use them wherever they go, provided there are internet connections.
To get a VoIP number in Hawaii, sign up for a VoIP service plan with any VoIP phone service provider in the state. A VoIP phone system gives you various benefits that traditional phone service cannot offer.
Can You Make Free Internet Calls?
You can make free internet calls if there is a reliable broadband connection. Typically, you will need any internet-enabled device with the right software or application to place free internet calls. You can achieve this via any of the following ways:
- PC to PC: You can make free internet calls using a PC with the appropriate software to other PC users who have the same software as you.
- PC to Phone: Without a phone, you can place free calls to regular phone numbers using your computer. An application such as Skype installed on your PC will let you do this.
- APP to App: This works primarily on mobile devices such as tablets or smartphones. The right software installed on any mobile device lets you call another person who has installed the same application, also on a mobile device for free.
- App to Phone: Some software installed on either your smartphone or tablet will let you make free calls to regular phone numbers on landline or cell phones. Call recipients need not have to install any program to receive such calls.
Some of the software and programs that facilitate internet calls from PC or mobile devices include:
- Google Voice
- Facebook Messenger
- Microsoft Teams