VoIP Versus Traditional Landline Phones
Gone are the days of no alternatives to traditional landline phones. The phone company itself is not the only choice to make with your home or business phone; now you have the choice of what kind of delivery option you want.
The traditional landline phone is what we are all familiar with, but now there is the choice of a VoIP phone delivery service. VoIP is Voice-over Internet Protocol and is currently gaining more and more attention and customers.
Many people are not sure exactly what VoIP is or what’s different between it and traditional phone service, though, so following is a list that you can use to compare the two as well as find out about the benefits and drawbacks of each.
A Traditional Landline Service
We’re all pretty familiar with the traditional landline phone. It’s come a long way from those days remembered by black-and-white TV shows where calls were made through an operator and you had to sit with your phone connected to the base, which was connected to the wall. And then there was rotary dial…
Now landlines are cordless and have some pretty good features and distance reception. Sometimes you can even take your dog for a short walk and still talk on your landline. But what are the real benefits to keeping one around? And why might you want to get rid of it in exchange for a VoIP phone?
Dependability is the largest factor to the traditional landline phone service. Sure, phone service does go in and out sometimes with a landline, but it is more reliable than VoIP service, which relies on the Internet (more on that below).
Often your Internet goes out in a storm. A VoIP phone wouldn’t work in this case, but your landline phone could still maintain service. Power outages don’t usually affect traditional phone service, but they do affect Internet service, therefore your VoIP service would be affected as well.
Traditional landline phone service also usually maintains better voice quality and clearer reception than VoIP.
Accessing 911 is another major factor in keeping a landline around. With a landline, any 911 call is routed and traced to your direct location, so the emergency response team can be more effective and locate where the call came from. With a landline, an address shows up with the call, making it useful if the caller gets cut off or can’t relay the address for whatever reason.
This is not always the case with a VoIP phone call; a specific address is not always linked. This is an important advantage and safety consideration for continuing to use a landline phone.
Landlines are also more secure. Because VoIP runs on the Internet, there is still a chance a hacker can get in to your phone service if it’s routed that way. With a landline, it’s much harder to do.
Landlines cost more. Landline plans are typically a lot more expensive than VoIP. You end up paying for extras like call waiting and call forwarding, even though we all have these things on our phones.
Though long-distance calls in the US (and sometimes even North America) have become much less expensive than in the past with landlines, they still do cost quite a bit more than with VoIP services. Landlines can end up costing you more than VoIP in the long run.
The variety of landline carrier options is also pretty slim, and with VoIP, you have all the choices you could imagine.
Another drawback is you tend to get more telemarketers and solicitations on a landline. Most people find this terribly annoying and have simply given up answering the phone; we’re all a bit guilty of screening calls at one time or another. The landlines seem to be the ones still getting hit with more of these calls.
Despite the pros of the landline, VoIP seems to be making its way sure and steady. At some point, traditional phone lines may be a thing of the past, just like the old rotary phone. Read on for information on VoIP.
What Is it Exactly?
VoIP stands for Voice-over Internet Protocol and is basically having your phone service over the Internet as opposed to being provided through a local phone company.
Instead of using analog signals as in traditional phone service, it uses digital data and transmits the signals over the Internet. Some experts say that in time, it will replace traditional phone service completely. Skype and Vonage are well-known examples (among many) of VoIP services.
For those using VoIP, there are three ways to place calls. The first one is through an ATA or Analog Telephone Adaptor. This is a converter that allows a traditional phone to connect to the computer and be used for VoIP.
The ATA device converts analog to digital, thus letting you use VoIP; it’s quite an easy setup. Some VoIP providers bundle these devices with their service to make the conversion even easier. Vonage is an example of this option.
Another way is by using IP phones, which have different connectors than traditional phones and connect right into your computer’s router. They can also be used in any place that has Wi-Fi.
The third way to use VoIP is computer to computer (like Skype). You need a few things in addition to your WiFi connection, like the software, a sound card, microphone, and speakers.
This is an inexpensive (even free) way to make long-distance calls and is a great supplement, but maybe not a complete replacement, to the traditional phone.
The main reason people are making the switch to VoIP is it can save a customer a lot of money. The monthly rates, if there are any, are much lower than traditional phone services. Usually extra services, like call waiting, call forwarding, and voicemail, are free with VoIP.
Long-distance calls, even international ones, are much less expensive (even free) than with a traditional, analog phone service. As long as you are already paying for Internet, this is a very cost effective route to go with phone service.
VoIP also offers all the features traditional phone services offer, like call forwarding, voicemail, caller ID, and contact lists. For those afraid that a VoIP provider does not offer the traditional services they are used to, this should not be a concern.
Conferencing is a big plus with VoIP and with global marketing and networking, this is a great solution to expensive travel fees. Businesses are looking at VoIP video conferencing as a cost saver in a time when travel is becoming more restricted.
For the customer looking to switch to VoIP, they will have a wide range of carriers to choose from. The list is big and with some comparison and checking, there is just the right provider for anyone. Some of the most well-known ones are: Vonage, Nextiva, Vocalocity, Jive, MagicJack, and Skype.
Many cable companies bundle it with other services. Lots and lots of information is available on these and other VoIP companies, allowing you to compare and find the best one to suit your individual or company needs. There is certainly no monopoly in this field as of now.
Because VoIP is relatively new, some technological aspects are still maturing. For instance, the voice quality can sometimes be questionable, like hearing screeching or hearing an echo to your own voice. This, however, is getting better and is just something that may take a little time to work out.
Another con is the fact that reliability is not as high as that of a traditional phone. Because VoIP is connected to the Internet, if your Internet is down, so is your phone.
During a storm, when you may really want or need to use your phone, it may be inaccessible if your Internet went down. However, if you have a cell phone as well, this may not be a concern.
Emergency access is still a concern because a VoIP phone does not have a specific address/location it’s connected to. Though you can definitely call 911, your location is not automatically received with the call.
This is a major concern to many people considering VoIP. Some VoIP options do have 911 capabilities, like Vonage, but you have to set it up and activate it; it’s not automatic. Skype does not have this feature, so some people look at it as a supplement to the traditional landline phone instead of a replacement.
One other con is that of security, as mentioned previously. Because VoIP runs over the Internet, it’s easier for hackers to get in, or anyone wanting to tap your phone can do it easier than on a traditional phone.
What Do You Think?
Technology is an exciting thing, and little by little, we all have to make the move. We think a lot about cell phone technology and can’t really imagine those days without them.
Home/business phone is rapidly changing, too–just in a subtler manner. So what do you think?
• Will traditional phone service go the way the bag cell phone or the rotary phone went?
• What do you use now?
• Will some of us hold onto it for as long as we can, though we really know that VoIP will soon be the mainstream?
• Are video meetings and conferencing via VoIP an alternative solution to help businesses save money by reducing yearly travel costs?
• Do you have security and quality concerns, or does the new technology and nice price tease you enough to investigate further–if you
haven’t already made the change?
Let us know these answers and more! Leave your thoughts in the comments below.
About the author
Heather Legg is a writer who blogs on technology, Internet safety, and healthy lifestyles.