In Idaho, VoIP refers to telecommunications services delivered through IP networks like local area networks and broadband internet connections. VoIP is an acronym for Voice over Internet Protocol.
What are VoIP and Internet Calls?
Making phone calls over the internet is one of the main features of VoIP. For this reason, the term ‘internet calling’ is often used interchangeably with VoIP. However, in addition to making calls over the internet, VoIP performs other telecommunications activities like sending multimedia messages, sharing audio, picture, and video files, and even making video calls.
How Do VoIP and Internet Calls Compare to Landline and Cell Phone Calls?
The most common form of telecommunications is through phone calls. These phone calls are mainly done through landlines, cell phones, and, more recently, VoIP devices. A phone call connects two people by transmitting soundwaves from the caller’s device to the call recipient’s device. The mode of transmission of these soundwaves differs for each calling device.
- Landlines: With landlines, soundwaves from the caller are transmitted via electrical energy. This electrical energy is then transferred from the caller’s landline to the receiver’s device through copper wires and telephone exchanges.
- Cell phones: With cell phones, the caller’s soundwaves are transmitted via electrical signals and radio waves. Generally, geographical areas are divided into cells, and each cell has a base station that routes all cell phone calls made in the area. When a call is made using a cell phone, the cell phone converts the caller’s soundwaves into electrical signals. These signals are beamed to the nearest cell phone mast and on to the area’s base station via radio waves. These radio waves are then routed to the device of the receiver by the base station.
- VoIP devices: With VoIP devices, the caller’s soundwaves are transmitted via digital signals and data packets. A VoIP device works by converting soundwaves into digital signals. These digital signals are then transferred in data packets to the receiver’s device through an IP network.
Calls made with VoIP devices have some advantages over calls made from cell phones or landlines, which include:
- The cost of making phone calls with VoIP devices is relatively cheaper compared to the cost of making phone calls with landlines and cell phones. In some cases, users can even make free calls as long as the VoIP device has an active internet subscription.
- VoIP and internet calls can be made from a broader range of devices than cellphone and landline calls.
- VoIP calls are not as geographically limited as cellphone and landline calls. A VoIP device can make a phone call anywhere there is an active internet connection, unlike a landline device that can only be used within a particular location and a cell phone that can only be used within areas covered by the cell provider.
- VoIP devices provide users with more telecommunications features and options than landlines and cell phones.
- Calls made with VoIP devices sound clearer than calls made with landlines and cell phones. However, the clarity depends on the strength of the internet connection used to make the call; the stronger the connection, the clearer the call’s voice quality.
Note that it is possible to identify unknown callers with reverse phone lookup services whether they are calling with landlines, cell phones, or VoIP phones.
Does Idaho Regulate VoIP Providers?
The Idaho Public Utilities Commission does not regulate VoIP providers. However, these providers must comply with specific requirements of the state's Telecommunications Act. This includes filing a notice with the Idaho Public Utilities Commission that contains the following information:
- The corporate name of the VoIP provider
- The address of the VoIP provider’s principal place of business in the state of Idaho
- A description of the telecommunications services the VoIP provider offers and the areas it serves or offers these services
What Do You Need for VoIP and Internet Calls?
If you want to make a VoIP and internet call, you need a VoIP device and an internet connection. High-speed data connections are preferable, and they can be gotten from Wi-Fi modems and routers, Ethernet cables and modems, and local area networks.
VoIP calls can be made from a wide range of devices. These devices are grouped into four categories:
- PCs: A PC that has been installed with VoIP enabling software can be used to make VoIP and internet calls. Depending on the type of PC, you may also be required to connect a sound card, a headset, or a microphone and speakers.
- IP Phones: An IP phone is a specialized phone that connects callers through IP networks instead of traditional telephone networks. These types of phones are manufactured specifically for VoIP services.
- ATAs: An ATA is a device that converts a regular landline telephone into a VoIP device, thereby allowing it to make VoIP and internet calls. ATA is an acronym for Analog Telephone Adapter.
- Softphones: A softphone is any software application that allows a mobile device to make VoIP and internet calls once it is installed on the device.
Are VoIP Numbers Different from Regular Phone Numbers?
According to the North American Numbering Plan, VoIP numbers and regular numbers are ten-digit phone numbers issued by service providers. Although VoIP and regular phone numbers are both used to connect callers to a particular receiver, these numbers have some differences:
- VoIP numbers are assigned to users and not to devices like regular phone numbers.
- VoIP numbers are not limited by location and area of coverage like regular phone numbers.
- A VoIP number can be used on different devices at the same time. This is not possible with a regular phone number.
Can You Make Free Internet Calls?
You can make calls for free on the internet as long as you have a VoIP device and an active internet connection. With these requirements in place, free internet calls can be made through any of these methods:
- App to Phone: This method allows you to make free internet calls from your mobile device to a regular phone that is not VoIP enabled. To utilize this method, you must have a VoIP enabling app installed on your mobile device. An app that can be used for this method is TextNow.
- PC to Phone: This method allows you to make free internet calls from your PC to a phone that is not VoIP enabled. Before you can use this method, your PC must have VoIP enabling software installed. An example of VoIP enabling software that can be used for this method is Google Voice.
- App to App: This method allows you to make free internet calls between mobile devices that are VoIP enabled. However, these devices must have the same apps installed in them. Some apps that can be used for this method are Viber, WhatsApp, Skype, and Zoom.
- PC to PC: This method allows you to make free internet calls between VoIP enabled PCs. Like with the App to App method, the PCs used to make free calls in this method must have the same VoIP enabling software installed. Software programs that can be used for this method include Zoom, Google Voice, and Skype.