VoIP, which stands for Voice over Internet Protocol, is a technology that allows regular telephony services to operate over computer networks. Generally, the internet is the medium for the transmission of VoIP, but there are also instances of VoIP transmissions over local area networks (LANs). According to the latest report from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), there are about 2.3 million VoIP subscriptions in Maryland as of June 2021.
What are VoIP and Internet Calls?
VoIP and internet calls are the same. They both refer to the transmission of voice and multimedia communication over the internet. VoIP calls include phone calls, video calls, and text messages made via an IP network. VoIP works by transmitting data as packets using IP protocols instead of the public switched telephone networks (PSTN).
How Do VoIP and Internet Calls Compare to Landline and Cell Phone Calls?
Landlines facilitate phone calls by transforming voice sound waves into electrical signals. These signals are transmitted along copper wires. As soon as the signals reach their recipients, they are converted into sound waves, which often come out as speech sounds.
Cell phones are more complex than landlines. This device does not require copper wires to transmit sound waves. Instead, they aid phone calls by transforming sound waves into electrical signals transmitted over radio waves. These waves are then converted into sound waves when they reach the receiver.
Cell phones can do this with mast towers, which serve as fixed antennas that route phone calls to their destination. With the growing popularity of phone scams, US citizens are advised to contact a reverse phone number lookup service provider or download a reverse phone number search engine.
VoIP transforms voice sound waves into digital signals using IP network connections. VoIP systems work by accepting your analog voice signals, converting them into digital signals, and sending them as data over your broadband line. The IP phones transform the sound waves into digital signals using CODECs, which are computer algorithms.
VoIP calls offer the following advantages over landlines and cell phones:
- Lower costs: VoIP calls are cheaper than the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) or the traditional circuit-switched telephone network. In addition to this, VoIP frees you from extra wiring charges because VoIP networks allow both voice and data on the same channel.
- Accessibility: VoIP gives you a broader chance of accessibility. You can make and receive calls anytime as long as you have a decent data connection. VoIP also allows you to direct your calls to another person whenever you are unable to answer calls.
- Flexibility: VoIP networks are very flexible to use. Subscribers are only restricted by available bandwidth regarding the number of phones and calls that can be handled on a VoIP network. VoIP calls can also be made with any compatible device, instead of just a telephone handset. These include computers, tablets, and VoIP phones. They can even be integrated with landlines using ATAs.
- Clearer voice quality: VoIP calls can deliver HD call quality. All you need is a stable internet connection and a high bandwidth.
- A VoIP number is completely portable; you can use it wherever you go.
- VoIP has higher scalability than traditional phone lines.
- VoIP supports multitasking. You can send videos, images, and videos, all while having a live conversation.
Does Maryland Regulate VoIP Providers?
Telecommunications and broadband services in Maryland are regulated by the Maryland Public Service Commission (MPSC). The MPSC monitors all intrastate telephone services within Maryland, excluding wireless services, which fall under the Federal Communication Commission's regulatory purview. MSPC does not have jurisdiction over VoIP service regulation, including the imposition of regulatory fees, certification requirements, and the filing or approval of tariffs.
This is stated in section 8-602 of the Public Utility Company (PUC) Article. The article requires that any company that transfers a customer from a Commission-approved tariff service to VoIP service must inform the customer that the Commission (MSPC) does not have jurisdiction over VoIP service. However, the Maryland legislative council has proposed a new bill that regulates VoIP services in the State.
The Maryland VoIP Rebocall-Customer Information Bill requires VoIP service providers to collect personal information from a person making robocalls through the VoIP service provider. The service providers are to ensure that their users are not using their services to perpetrate fraud. The bill also mandates that violators be subject to a civil penalty of $500 for each robocall made. Complaints about VoIP services may be filled with the Office of the Attorney General. To complement this bill, residents can protect themselves by using a reverse phone lookup service or search engine.
What Do You Need for VoIP and Internet Calls?
The essential tools for making internet calls depend on the VoIP method a user opts for. However, to make any call via the internet, a broadband internet connection, preferably fiber-optic, is needed. Technically, full FTTP or ethernet connections provide the best VoIP experience.
If you are using a landline, an Analog Telephone Adapter (ATA) and a compatible telephone are all you need. The ATA may be plugged into the wall phone socket or a router. If you prefer to use a router, make sure it is a compatible router.
You can also use a computer; it does not matter whether it is a laptop or desktop. All you need is the appropriate software, headset or speakers, and a microphone. There are numerous internet call software packages, and they include Skype, Google Talk, and Facetime. Calls via a computer require that the recipient has the caller's software fully installed on their device. These calls are free, but calls to actual phone numbers are not.
If you are using a mobile phone, you need a smartphone with the preferred application installed. Phone apps like WhatsApp and Facebook messenger allow you to make calls. The same app must be installed on the receiver’s device for the phone call to go through. Some of these apps allow phone calls to regular landlines and mobile phones, but these involve some additional costs. Residents can use Wi-Fi connections to make calls.
Are VoIP Numbers Different from Regular Phone Numbers?
Technically, a VoIP number is a real telephone number. However, these numbers are not the same as a regular phone number. Like regular phone numbers, spoofed VoIP numbers can also be identified with the help of a reverse phone number lookup service provider. Some significant differences between a VoIP number and a regular phone number include;
- VoIP numbers can be assigned to more than one user device.
- VoIP numbers can be used simultaneously on multiple devices.
- These numbers are assigned to individual users and not specific phone lines.
- VoIP numbers are not restricted by physical locations.
Can You Make Free Internet Calls?
Individuals can make calls on the internet for free. To make such calls, you need an internet call application that enables free phone calls. These phone applications allow users to make free phone calls in any of the following ways:
- PC to PC: where phone calls are made from one computer to another with compatible phone applications installed on both computers.
- App to App: where both parties make free calls by actively using an app. These services run exclusively on smartphones or tablets and enable phone calls only if the recipients have the same applications installed.
- PC to Phone Applications: where an individual can call a real telephone number for free with a computer application.
- App to Phone Software: where users make free internet calls from mobile devices to real phone numbers. These services support phone calls to any number, including landlines and mobile phones.