What are VoIP and Internet Calls?
VoIP is Voice over Internet Protocol, a type of internet-powered telephony that is used widely by residents of Colorado. It is possible to make completely free voice calls and participate in video conferences using VoIP. According to the latest report from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), there are over 1.79 million VoIP subscriptions in Colorado as of June 2021.
VoIP and internet calls are different words that have the same meaning. These are calls placed over IP networks. The widely used IP network is internet connections. Coloradans can make phone calls in two ways, namely using a phone network or the internet. With phone networks, users typically get some restrictions and are relatively expensive. However, with internet calls, phone users get to enjoy cheap or free phone calls since there are no physical infrastructures. Internet calls simply route users' numbers over the internet. VoIP also supports video calling and text messaging.
How Do VoIP and Internet Calls Compare to Landline and Cell Phone Calls?
VoIP calls convert audio data into digital packets and transmit them over internet connections to the call recipients. IP phones are a type of phone used with VoIP services. IP phones are like regular telephones in form. Rather than connecting to wall sockets, IP phones connect to routers or modems. These devices turn the sound waves from a caller's voice into digital files using computer programs called CODECs and then routed to a called party. Besides IP phones, which are physical devices, softphones are software-based phones that can be used for VoIP calls. They are compatible with computers and smartphones and serve the same function as IP phones.
Landline telephones and phone networks are required to make landline calls. This type of call converts a caller's voice into signals that travel through fiber-optic cables to deliver information to someone on the other end of the phone. The caller's microphone converts the sound waves produced into electrical energy. These are then transmitted along phone wires and telephone exchanges to locate the rightful recipient. The recipient's speaker automatically transforms the electrical energy to sound waves to reproduce the original communication from the caller.
When using a cell phone to make a call, it sends signals to the closest cell phone mast. A mast is usually a massive fixed antenna placed on the ground that takes a call signal and routes it to its destination. Cell phones convert sound waves into electrical signals and then send them out over radio waves. Upon reaching the called party, the radio waves are transformed into sound waves to deliver the caller's intended information.
Each of these calling options has its costs and benefits. However, VoIP calls have some notable advantages over landline and cell phone calls. These include:
- VoIP call plans are more flexible compared to landlines and cell phones. Users can easily add extra participants during a call, and there is no limitation to talk-time.
- VoIP users can take their numbers with them anywhere as long as there are high-speed internet connections. VoIP numbers are not restricted to physical locations and can be searched by reverse phone lookup applications.
- VoIP calls are convenient, allowing users to place calls to regular phone numbers or internet users, as long as there are stable internet connections.
- With VoIP calls, it is possible to make free or cheap unlimited long-distance calls, saving users the stress of having to buy long-distance call cards.
- VoIP calls produce superior voice quality compared to cell phone and landline calls, provided there are stable broadband connections.
Does Colorado Regulate VoIP Providers?
State regulation on VoIP is usually limited to public safety, consumer protection, and E-911. The Colorado Public Utilities Commission (PUC) manages telecommunications services and infrastructures in the state but does not regulate VoIP providers. However, Customer Proprietary Network Information (CPNI) rules and E-911 charges apply. CPNI is the confidential details about phone users' purchases and the use of telephony services such as call records and location information.
On March 19, 2014, the Colorado House of Representatives unanimously passed legislation on VoIP. The bill, named House Bill 14-1329, was sponsored by Representatives Angela Williams, Mark Scheffel, and Carole Murray. It prohibits state regulators from setting new rules and price regulations for telephony services carried over the internet. Governor John W. Hickenlooper signed it into law on May 9, 2014.
What Do You Need for VoIP and Internet Calls?
You can make VoIP or internet calls in three different ways. You can either do using computers or landline phones. The third option is using VoIP with mobile devices. All of these choices have unique requirements, with broadband internet connections as a common denominator.
To use VoIP with a landline, you need an Analog Telephone Adapter (ATA). ATA is a device that facilitates the connection of landline phones to broadband service for use with VoIP. It converts the analog signal from a landline into digital files and routes it over an available internet connection.
If you want to use VoIP with computers, a microphone, speakers, and suitable software are needed. Many companies offer software that can be used on computers for low-cost calls. Some even give free software for internet calls.
The widely employed internet calls are those made from mobile devices such as tablets and smartphones. These devices allow users to make calls or participate in video conferences anywhere and anytime. To use this VoIP method, you need compatible mobile applications such as WhatsApp, Skype, Facetime, and Facebook Messenger. Some applications offer free VoIP calls, but the called parties must have the same type of applications installed on their mobile devices. A few of them also allow calls to standard phone numbers at some charges to the caller.
Are VoIP Numbers Different from Regular Phone Numbers?
Although VoIP numbers may look and operate like regular phone numbers to phone users, there are variations between both. The first is the mode of operation. VoIP phone numbers transmit communication over internet connections, while regular phone lines connect to some cables to complete phone calls. Secondly, VoIP numbers are independent of locations to function. Provided there are stable internet services, VoIP numbers will work anywhere, unlike regular phone numbers tied to specific area codes. Also, a single VoIP number can be shared across multiple devices at the same time, giving users the convenience of making and receiving calls from choice devices.
Can You Make Free Internet Calls?
You can make free internet calls provided there is a stable internet connection, the needed software or application, and an internet-enabled device. To place free internet calls, adopt any of the following methods:
- Computers to Telephones: Some computer VoIP software allows free calls to regular phone numbers.
- Mobile Applications to Telephones: There are dedicated mobile apps that enable users to call regular phone numbers at no cost.
- Computers to Computers: You can make free calls from your computer to another person who has the same software as yours.
- Mobile Application to Mobile Application: It is possible if both the caller and recipient have the same application installed on their mobile devices. For instance, people widely use WhatsApp calls as a free means of communication.