Telecommunications Consumer Education and Training Program
How VoIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) / Internet Voice Works
VoIP services convert your voice into a digital signal that travels over the Internet. If you are calling a regular phone number, the signal is converted to a regular telephone signal before it reaches the destination. VoIP can allow you to make a call directly from a computer, a special VoIP phone, or a traditional phone connected to a special adapter. In addition, wireless "hot spots" in locations such as airports, parks, and cafes allow you to connect to the Internet and may enable you to use VoIP service wirelessly.
Is there a difference between making a Local Call and a Long Distance Call? Some VoIP providers offer their services for free, normally only for calls to other subscribers to the service. Your VoIP provider may permit you to select an area code different from the area in which you live. It also means that people who call you may incur long distance charges depending on their area code and service.
Some VoIP providers charge for a long distance call to a number outside your calling area, similar to existing, traditional wireline telephone service. Other VoIP providers permit you to call anywhere at a flat rate for a fixed number of minutes.
What Are Some Advantages of VoIP?
What Are some disadvantages of VoIP?If you're considering replacing your traditional telephone service with VoIP, there are some possible differences:
Does the FCC Regulate VoIP?
In June 2005 the FCC imposed 911 obligations on providers of “interconnected” VoIP services – VoIP services that allow users generally to make calls to and receive calls from the regular telephone network. You should know, however, that 911 calls using VoIP are handled differently than 911 calls using your regular telephone service. Please see our consumer fact sheet on VoIP and 911 services at www.voip911.gov for complete information on these differences.
In addition, the FCC requires interconnected VoIP providers to comply with the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act of 1994 (CALEA) and to contribute to the Universal Service Fund, which supports communications services in high-cost areas and for income-eligible telephone subscribers. Aspects of these considerations may change with new developments in internet technology. You should always check with the VoIP service provider you choose to confirm any advantages and limitations to their service. http://www.fcc.gov/voip/
For more information on VOIP go to: http://www.fcc.gov/cgb/consumerfacts/voip.html