VoIP Phones are the telephonic devices used for VoIP services. It can be a normal standard analogue telephone or the exclusive IP phones that can be used for VoIP communications only.
VoIP handsets are the devices used for VoIP telephone services. You can use normal analogue telephone or special IP phones that can be used just for VoIP services.
To avoid confusion, both types of phones send conversations as data packets across the internet connection to the other caller. In other words, unlike the conventional telephone communication, no wire transfer is made use of in the case of VoIP.
In fact, this is the biggest advantage of VoIP phones. Since there are no wires, there are no much installation troubles, which further means less installation and maintenance costs for the customer. Since VoIP calls are carried out over the internet, the actual cost of the calls are much less than standard long distance telephone calls using conventional phone handsets.
Ongoing costs for VoIP calls are the VoIP monthly fee and the internet connection costs. Combined, these costs will work out much less than that of a usual business PBX.
Now let's see how VoIP phones work. VoIP infrastructure includes a leased line connection, or ADSL internet connection, a VoIP phone or handset, a router, and a gateway. The router sends the telephone calls to the internet and the gateway, also known as the ATA (Analogue Telephone Adapter), converts analogue signals to digital data packets prior to sending across the internet. IP phones come preloaded with the required hardware and software, which means they can be plugged directly into a router, therefore bypassing the ATA (Analogue Telephone Adapter). At the recipient's end, the data packets are then converted back to the original analogue format. These calls are then sent over a PSTN (Public Telephone Switch Network) to the telephone number dialed. The whole process is many times efficient and quicker than the conventional wire communication.
Then there are soft VoIP phones or virtual VoIP phones that can be installed in a laptop or desktop. It works similar to VoIP phones, the only real differential is that the dialing part is simulated via a user interface on the screen and users have to click on it, using a computer mouse to dial the number. Further, since the soft phone loads all the required VoIP features, no additional external components is required to make the call. All the behind scene technicalities will be managed by the service provider himself.
If there are any other advantages with VoIP phones, then it is that it gives the customers maximum flexibility at virtually no additional cost. Standard telephones are permanently connected to telphone lines, whereas ATA's can be taken with customers to virtually anywhere in the worl as they are not fixed like traditional telephones. Then by connecting it to a telephone and an internet connection, one could make VoIP calls to any other phone in the same ATA network for no cost. For other networks, it may cost a bit, but a lot cheaper than long distance calls.
Finally, all standard VoIP phones comes inbuilt with features such as caller id, repeat dialing, call transfer, and call waiting, which may be missing in most unsophisticated conventional phones. For advanced features like call forwarding, forwarding to voicemail box, giving busy signal to the caller if busy, or playing automated messages, however, the service provider might charge a fee. Such paid services also include the facility to check voice mails over the web or attach messages to an e-mail that is sent to one's PDA/PC.
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VoIP Handsets by Lee Smith VoIP Handsets