Regular phone service usually doesn't include many features. Even long distance requires a separate account with a long distance carrier at additional expense.
If you have Internet service from a cable company then you may be able to get phone service from them too. This is known as VoIP. It stands for Voice over Internet Protocol.
The VoIP phone service comes through your cable rather than the old copper wires. The cable company will supply you with a special telephony modem.
A telephony modem includes an Analog Telephony Adapter (ATA) built into it. This Internet modem has one or two phone jacks in addition to the usual Ethernet jack for your computer.
Features Included with VoIP
VoIP services usually include most of the technologically available features at no extra cost. Features such as the following are free with most VoIP services.
- Call Blocking
- Call Forwarding
- Distinctive Ring for VIP Callers
- Long Distance (Usually to all 50 States in the USA, plus Puerto Rico)
- One Important Disadvantage
You could connect your modem to an Uninterruptable Power Supply (UPS) that provides power for an hour or two if you are in an area that is prone to losing electricity. In addition, your cable provider might even include a feature to forward calls to your cell phone in case of a power outage.
This can be enabled and controlled by you via a web login portal. The features listed above can also be controlled from your web portal.
Additional Line at Low Cost
If you only have one phone line, you use only one jack. However, you can have two numbers. The monthly cost for the additional line is very small compared to two-line service over copper lines.
There are two reasons why the cost is low. There is no need to run additional cables, and the central office support for an additional line does not take up any additional resources.
Connecting the phones throughout your home still requires copper wire. However, you probably already have this from your existing phone service. All you need to do is have the wires terminate at the location where your Internet Telephony Modem will reside.
You simply connect this wire to the telephony modem. The connection is made with the standard RJ-11 jack that you use with your phones.
If you have two lines running through one wire, it uses the same looking jack at the end, but this is known as an RJ-14. The inner two pins carry line 1 and the outset two pins carry line 2. In this case one of the jacks in the modem is used. You'll notice that one of the jacks is labeled L1/L2 and the other is labeled just L2.
The technology has been improved in recent years with the advent of better data compression techniques. It even provides better quality sound due to the use of digital transmission.
Long Distance can be included free, and overseas at low-cost, because the service takes advantage of the Internet satellite infrastructure that's already in place around the world.
VoIP definitely is the wave of the future that is here now.
About the author: Glenn Stok is the founder of Stok Software, Inc., a New York business that designed and supported small business phone systems for over 35 years.
You can find a list of Mr. Stok's related articles under "Business Phone Systems" on his website.