Tech Term Tuesday: VoIP

Have you ever used Skype, Google Voice, or Vonage to talk to friends or relatives that live far away? If you’re like the millions of Americans who have, then you know all about today’s tech term.

According to the Tech Terms Online Dictionary, Voice over Internet Protocol, or VoIP, “is basically a telephone connection over the internet”. This allows people to communicate with others all over the world without paying for long distance phone calls. Some providers do charge for VoIP services, which tend to be faster, more reliable, and more likely to work overseas than similar free services.

Most VoIP programs use your computer’s webcam, microphone, and speakers, but some require extraneous hardware like VoIP phone handsets that connect to your computer’s USB port.

Free services are usually fine for individuals with a solid internet connection who want to use their computer or mobile data connection to make VoIP calls within their country. Paid services are best for businesses, people who want to replace their mobile calling plans, or those who will be using mobile VoIP overseas. If you decide to go VoIP, do some research to decide which service is best for you. Each comes with its own set of features and limitations, and you don’t want to be blindsided by those. (For example, the free Skype smartphone app can only make calls from within your country…valuable information for the world traveler!)

To read the full definition of VoIP, check out the Tech Terms Dictionary
HowStuffWorks has a great, in-depth explanation of how VoIP works…
And Sangnoma interviewed tech professionals to determine the differences between free and paid VoIP services.

Happy VoIP-ing!


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