Friday, February 06, 2009

Tips For Using VoIP For Your Home Phone

For residential, if your cable or internet provider provides service, go with them since it's one point of contact for troubleshooting (internet connection and broadband phone) - if an issue may arise - especially since it may be cheaper to get internet and phone in a bundled package.

However, if it's not cheaper, and you can foresee yourself moving around or traveling, than shop around. You'll find a recommended list of VoIP providers including a Best Rate Calculator here: VoIP Providers Compared

Here are some observations and recommendations:

1) Decide what features you really need to help you determine which VoIP provider to use.

2) Decide if you need to be able to transfer your existing phone number. Some VoIP providers don't allow you to do this although most now do.

3) VoIP service is highly dependent upon the quality of service of your broadband network to which you connect to the Internet. This has nothing to do with the VoIP provider but your DSL or Cable Internet provider (unless they also provide the VoIP service). Some have had better experience with Cable while I have heard from others that their DSL service worked fine.

4) The quality of the echo canceller and codec technology used in your voice gateway (provided by the VoIP provider), your IP phone (if you don't use an analog/POTS phone) or your SIP client on your PC will have a large affect on the service quality. This affect things like hearing long echos which make it impossible to have a conversation or speech clipping which causes your voice to break up. The problem is often unidirectional so the voice quality you hear may sound great but the person you called is having trouble understanding you. The technology continues to mature and improve so it is best to read user reviews of equipment.

5) Use a UPS to provide power to your router, DSL/Cable Modem and VoIP gateway. Get a 250VA (or larger one) to power this plus your PC and other office equipment to justify the larger UPS expense. If power goes out at home, your Internet connection often does not so with a UPS powering your equipment, you can still make phone calls for as long as you have backup power. A cell phone will also act as the backup phone service.

In summary, your quality of experience will really depend upon who your VoIP provider is and a given service provider may offer excellent service in some markets and very poor service in other markets. Also, the size of the company providing the service is not commensurate with the quality of service. I have had many tell me that they have had very poor VoIP quality of service from their incumbent tier 1 cable operator. Therefore, you may need to try out a few VoIP service providers before settling on one or you may luck out on your first try.

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