The Quick Start Guide to VOIP for the Home, Home Office, and Small Business

Understanding the Difference Between the Regular Phone Network and VOIP

In a traditional telephone call, voice data flows over circuit-switched phone lines owned and operated by your phone company and interconnected to other phone company lines all over the world.

A circuit or pipe between you and the person you are calling is opened and stays open for the duration of the call. No one else can jump in on that circuit and use it while you are using it.

This technology for making phone calls is old school—it’s been around for a hundred years or so—and you know it as Plain Old Telephone Service (POTS). The network that runs this service is called the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN).

Now switch to the new school of VOIP. Using VoIP, your voice conversation with a friend is digitized (converted to data), chopped up, and sent in packets over the Internet.

Lots of packets from lots of sources use the same pipe. In effect, your voice call shares space with lots of other voice calls, email, data transfers, or whatever, so it is less expensive to operate. This is a large part of why VOIP services cost less than PSTN ones.

Related Articles

Inside the VoIP Internet Phone A VoIP Internet phone, unlike a conventional phone, sends voice signals over the Internet. These signals bypass the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) when the call is made from one Internet phone to another. However, when the call is made from an Internet phone to a conventional phone, the voice signals journey part of the way over regular phone lines.


This site is protected under both U.S. Federal copyright law and international
treaties. No part of this work, including text, look and feel, layout, images, may
be reproduced or copied in any form or by any means.