The Quick Start Guide to VOIP for the Home

Take the Geek Speak out of Internet Phone Hardware

Don't let the techie side of VOIP scare you away. VOIP phones, adaptors and headsets are simple to use.

If you get a creepy feeling every time someone says "SIP phone", "analog telephone adaptor", or "wireless USB handset", just pause and take a deep breath. You don't have to be an IT pro. You just need to know enough to choose the best equipment for you.

Even if your VOIP broadband phone provider includes the equipment in the plan, you should still understand what you're getting for free. You may get more benefit from upgrading to a better model of phone, adaptor or headset.

Click here to see VOIP Phones on sale

VOIP Phone or IP Phone

Also known as: SIP phone

A VOIP phone has an Ethernet port (RJ-45) instead of a regular phone jack (RJ-11), and connects directly to a broadband Internet modem instead of to the phone line in your house. You can make and receive calls just like normal. A SIP phone is a type of VOIP phone that uses the SIP standard for setting up calls.

VOIP phones come with a wide range of features ranging from basic phones with LCD display to full-featured business phones loaded with features like speakerphone, color graphic display, and programmable keys.

Reasons to choose an IP phone:

  • VOIP broadband telephone provider does not include an adaptor or phone in the package so you can Bring Your Own Device (BYOD).
  • Significantly reduce the clutter on your desk. You'll have less devices on your desk taking up space and fewer cables.

Analog Telephone Adaptor

Also known as: broadband phone adaptor, VOIP adaptor

To use your regular analog or cordless phone, you’ll need an Analog Telephone Adaptor (ATA). Your VoIP service provider or broadband phone company should be able to provide you with one of these. Otherwise, online stores such as VOIPSupply.com carry popular brand names such as Grandstream and LinkSys/Sipura. Click here for analog adaptors on sale.

The ATA converts your voice into digital data before it hits the Internet. The ATA connects to your broadband modem and to your regular telephone. Some ATAs also have built-in broadband routers are "all-in-one" and have built in ATA functions.

The obvious advantage of using an ATA is that you can use the phone you have on hand, either wired or cordless. Some ATA's are small enough to be easily portable, meaning you can take them with you when you travel.

Broadband Modem

Also known as: broadband router

To have high speed Internet, you need a broadband modem or router. Usually, this device is installed by your broadband service provider. VOIP phones plug directly into the router, while a regular analog phone plugs into an ATA, which then plugs into the router. Some broadband modems are all-in-one, and have built-in ATA functions.

VOIP Software

Also known as: softphone, VOIP client, dialer, PC telephone, Net phone

VOIP software is required only for computer-to-computer, or computer-to-phone calling. It is an application that allows you to dial from you computer. Most softphone user interfaces are designed to resemble familiar looking phones, PDAs, or Instant Messenging applications like MSN Messenger.

VOIP software can be free, like Skype , or it can be part of a VOIP service Plan. Voip.com, for example offers free softphone service with all monthly and yearly plans, and on its own for less than $15/month. On your desktop or laptop computer, the softphone looks like a telephone keypad.

Read more about free VOIP software...

Headset and Microphones

If you plan on using your computer as a phone, then you need a computer with soundcard, a headset with a microphone, and some VoIP software. Headsets can be mono (only one speaker or earpiece), or stereo (two earpieces). Headset earpieces come in two types: cushy pads that cover the whole ear or ear buds that you insert inside the ear. Some folks find certain earpieces uncomfortable so make sure to try some on before you buy

Some examples of headsets with built in microphones:

  • Plantronics .Audio 50—a mono headset with microphone for about $20
  • Plantronics .Audio 90—a stereo headset ideal for VOIP, music and gaming.

Click here for discount Plantronics headsets.

USB Phone

Also known as: Internet phone, computer phone, PC phone

If you dislike headsets, try a USB phone for making PC-to-PC calls. These phones plug directly into the USB port on the computer. Skype currently offers the Cyberphone K and Simply Phones for use with the proprietary Skype service.

Other USB phones include:

  • Tiger NetCom 200B USB Phone
  • Clarisys USB Internet Phone CLA-i750H

Cordless/Wireless VOIP Phones

Lose the wires with any of these cordless or wireless VOIP Phones. Click Here For Wireless IP Phones

Next... [ Free VOIP Software ]

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