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VoIP stands for Voice Over Internet Protocol. Basically this means converting your voice into information that can be carried over the internet. Due to the vast take-up of broadband internet more and more services can be provided using the additional download/upload speeds of your internet connection.
To use VoIP you must have a broadband internet connection and a means of converting analogue signals (Standard Phones) into digital (VoIP). There are a number of ways of going about this, the first being a piece of software that is installed on your computer, this is normally called a softphone. A softphone uses your computer's sound card and speakers or a headset and microphone to obtain and play back a phone call. In recent years many USB phones have also been produced to connect to your computer too. The second method and probably the best is the use of a VoIP phone or ATA (Analogue Telephone Adapter).
A VoIP phone/ATA connects to the VoiceHost service via your internet connection. The device manages the connection and any calls that are made using the device. Therefore a computer is not needed, just an internet connection. The differences between VoIP phones and adapters are that a VoIP phone is like a standard phone however it is digital and often offers additional features to that of a voip adapter.
A VoIP ATA (Analogue Telephone Adapter) connects to the VoiceHost service via your internet connection. A VoIP ATA is ideal if you wish to connect your current analogue telephone to a VoIP service, many adapters now offer the ability to connect your current landline to the same phone as VoIP, allowing you to make calls on both the VoIP network and the standard analogue network.
Since VoIP uses the internet to make calls, call costs are often cheaper than those of traditional telephony. When a call is made using VoIP it is carried across the internet and then once it reaches its destination it is turned back into speech. If the person you are calling is not on a VoIP service, your call will be passed to the traditional telephone network via the internet where you will be connected to the person you are calling.
VoIP can save you vast amounts of money compared to traditional telephony. For example if you have a VoiceHost account and a friend across the world has an account too the calls between the two accounts are free!
If you run a business, you can even have multiple lines & numbers on your account, that will save you pounds on line rental! If you have multiple offices, each extension is part of our 'Virtual PBX' that can connect people as if they were in the same office! For example, calls between sites are free and calls can be transferred between extensions quickly and easily.
In recent years the availability of Wi-fi networks has grown rapidly, since our service works over the internet it is now possible to make calls from any wi-fi hotspot. Be this while walking through a city, while sitting in a coffee shop or even from your hotel room.
Mobile phone manufacturers are now producing phones that also connect to Wi-fi hotspots and can connect your handset to VoiceHost allowing cheaper calls from your mobile.How does it work?
VoiceHost VoIP allows you to make telephone calls using a computer network, over a data network like the Internet. VoIP converts the voice signal from your telephone into a digital signal that travels over the internet then converts it back at the other end so you can speak to anyone with a regular phone number.
VoIP can be implemented in several ways, from a software program on your computer used with a headset and microphone to adaptors used with regular analogue home phones or you can use dedicated VoIP phones which look and act like regular phones but have specially designed chips to improve call quality.
Just like a modem converts digital signals from the PC into analogue (voice) traffic for transmission over a phone line, a VoIP-enabled phone or VoIP ATA (Analogue Telephone Adapters) converts your voice into digital packets (using the special SIP protocol) for transmission over the internet. If you make a call to another VoIP phone, the opposite process occurs at the other end, and your voice emerges intact from the ether. If you make a call to a mobile or landline, VoiceHost's VoIP gateway decodes the call and sends it on as an ordinary voice call to the telephone exchange (PSTN).
Calling another VoIP line
The VoIP ATA/Phone connects to the VoiceHost server, which looks up the destination and sets up the call. Thereafter, the voice traffic passes directly over the internet between the two telephones.
Calling a non-VoIP (standard: landline or mobile) line
When a VoiceHost user calls a standard PSTN landline or mobile, the VoIP ATA/Phone connects to VoiceHost as before. The VoiceHost server looks up the destination and finds it is a PSTN (standard) number. The call is routed via the PSTN gateway into the PSTN network as a normal call. Thereafter, traffic passes directly via the gateway.
Why use it and who benefits?
Small to medium-sized businesses with several employees, especially those with distributed offices and teleworkers, are likely to get the maximum benefit from VoIP. It cuts your business telephony cost; all calls to other VoiceHost users/peered providers are free and other calls are competitively priced.
You can configure your system to give whatever impression you want to customers. For example, if you have associates or employees in other areas of the UK or even abroad, you can give them all extensions on the same number, or their own numbers with the same area code as your head office. No-one need know whether you have city center offices, or a virtual office!
What will you need?
1. A VoIP enabled telephone: This can be an all-in-one handset, or a normal handset plugged into an adaptor, or a softphone: a computer program that uses a microphone and headphones attached to your computer to emulate a real handset.
A good solution is an adaptor, which allows you to connect one or two handsets, and has the advantage that you can connect other analogue devices like fax machines. It also has a number of useful inbuilt functions, including call waiting, caller ID, and call back if busy.
2. An internet connection: A leased line or ADSL/cable broadband is ideal. A standard 256Kb ADSL connection can accommodate 2-3 simultaneous calls; if you expect to need more frequently, you may wish to upgrade to a higher-bandwidth package.
3. An account with a VoiceHost: This gives you a VoIP external number which is what other people dial to call you and access to the VoiceHost VoIP exchange.
What will it cost?
To start saving with VoiceHost, all you need to do is register a new account, download the free softphone or purchase a VoIP phone and start making calls. You receive a free 0843 number to start receiving incoming calls.
If you and your friends anywhere in the world register a VoiceHost account your calls to each other are free. For further information of features, see 'VoiceHost Features'. For information on our great call rates, see 'Call Rates'.
Do I get a new number?
To receive calls from the standard telephone network you do require a number on the VoiceHost network. However your current landline number will still work in the same way as before. Instead of replacing your existing line, VoiceHost in effect supply a virtual line, so both VoIP and standard calls can be made simultaneously.
If you wish to port your current telephone number to VoiceHost this is also possible, depending on your current network provider.
There are a few options for telephone numbers, by default you will be assigned a national number, which is not region specific. However if you require a local geographic number these can be added instantly to your account.
If you wish to run a virtual office or just have a presence in another location in the UK this is also possible. For example if you run a business from outside of London, but wish to have a London telephone number this is easy to setup with VoiceHost.
Can I use my existing phone?
If you currently have a VoIP phone or adapter you can use this with VoiceHost, however if you have a standard landline phone, with a BT style plug you will need a VoIP adapter. VoIP adapters connect your standard analogue phone to the internet and convert the analogue signals produced by your analogue phone into a digital signal that can be sent over the internet.
There are a variety of adapters that have different features. Some VoIP adapters are built into routers, some connect directly to your network. Many VoIP adapters also allow you to connect your current line allowing you to use both lines to make calls with a single phone.
Who can I call?
VoiceHost allows you to call any standard telephone or mobile network, be this in the UK or anywhere in the world. Also calls can be made between any VoiceHost user and any peered VoIP network. So in short you can call almost anyone in the world! It may not be possible to call some premium rate numbers and calls to emergency services are restricted. (see can I make 999 calls?).
What VoIP devices do you recommend?
We recommend different devices depending on your requirements. If you wish to use a phone at home, we would recommend a 'Siemens A580IP'. These phones offer everything you would require on a standard home telephone and more. Even though these two Siemens phones would work very well for most business they do not offer easy access to some other advanced features you would expect from a business phone.
For the business user we recommend 'Snom'. Snom phones have been in existence for many years and offer superior sound quality and features. These phone are well built and can handle intense usage, which is expected from a business product.
Of course if you would like advice on which phones would best suit your needs, please feel free to call us on 0345 561 0 561 for advice or view all our products in our 'VoIP Store'.
Where do I go from here?
If you are interested in signing up for an account, please 'Register' for a FREE account, remember there are no monthly fees and no long term commitments, just pay-as-you-go!
If you have any questions about the service at all, please call 0345 561 0 561 or use the 'Contact' section of the site. We know that setting up new technology can be a daunting process, but we are happy to pre-configure devices purchased from our store and guide you through any setup processes once you receive the products. If you already have VoIP hardware, we are also happy to help you get this up and running with the VoiceHost service.
We strive to be the best in the business and therefore our customers come first, be this business or personal users.