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Basic service question for VoIP NEWBOY

4 Part Question:

I'm very new to VoIP and how it works, thats why I'm asking the experts.

I saw i big advantage being:   TOLL BYPASS!!!  

1.) For a home network or a small PC/telephony network    and    without huge capital to spend on Routers/Voip modules, etc.  Now, could I set up a small Voip network using connecting service with a Phone company that offers Voip connections. - what type of equipment/software would I need?

2.a   Ex.  I have a small network, 1 server.   Could I buy 1 Voip connection with phone company X that allows all the end users to make long distance calls to anywhere in the world for free (after the VoIP Bill is paid)

3.) How is the sound quality of VOIP ??????????

and Lastly 4.)  Is it necessary for the RECIEVING PARTY  or individual such as in China   to  be equiped with some VoIP network compatability  or at least have a Phone Company that supports VOIP, or will the Voip service I subsribe to be sufficient.


Please answer as completely as you can, and I will split points if necessary!


 

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pdoriley
Asked:
pdoriley
8 Solutions
 
bibhutikumarCommented:
VOIP is a type of digital voice traffic running over TCP/IP. it  can run  over private local networks, public wide-area networks (the Internet), or even private wide-area networks.

http://www.iec.org/online/tutorials/int_tele

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Aland CoonsSystems EngineerCommented:
There is already a very nice company doing VOIP for home users and small businesses:
www.vonage.com

The advantage is as you say .. you don't pay long distance FEES.
Compare that with the same service from you phone company and you'll find significant savings.
Add to that .. Vonage uses the internet instead of local phone lines and saves you additional TAXES.

These folks share the cost advantage of using IP for long distance with you saving you lots of $$$ every month!

Their most expensive residential plan gives you unlimited calling to the US and Canada for only $25/month.
Add as second line for only $10 per month.

{{solicitation removed - ai, cs admin}}!

Shoot me an email at {{email address removed - ai, cs admin}}(just put Vonage as the subject line).
I also disclose here that I get credit, too. And YOU can get credit for referring your friends!
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Aland CoonsSystems EngineerCommented:
Small business rates are higher than for residental:
$50 for one line, unlimited (includes a second fax line)
$13 for extra business lines as required.

All that is required is a broadband connection. The adapter acts as a router sitting between your broadband modem and your computer LAN (connected to both with CAT-5 cables).
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Aland CoonsSystems EngineerCommented:
The sound quality is like talking on a normal phone.  Occasionally you will get interference that sound like you or the other is on a cell phone. That is because packets are getting dropped on the network much like a cell phone would loose digital packets due to poor reception.

Sometimes when you place or receive a call the connection will get broken which usually is only half broken (i.e. you can still hear them even though they cannot hear you). These are always fixed by hanging up and redialing.

These problems are not terrible but will happen once or twice a month if you use the phone alot.
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Aland CoonsSystems EngineerCommented:
The VOIP service as implemented by Vonage doesn’t require the remote customer to have any special equipment. They can be Verizon, Bell, or Vonage customers. They can be in China or Argentina.

Some of their current rates:
Berlin 3c/min
Rio de Janeiro 6c/min
Hong Kong 3c/min
Paris 3c/min
Tel Aviv 4c/min

This is DIFFERENT from the VOIP commonly used by business to connect their remote sites. These specialized routers make calls between corporate offices in various cities and countries as if they were local calls. Because the lines between these sites are usually highquality leased lines these is no problem from dropped packets so phone quality is unusually excellent. These types of VOIP connections are established with specialized hardware on BOTH ends which is significatly different from that services provided by Vonage which connects your computer/LAN/phone to the POTS (plain old telephone system).
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Aland CoonsSystems EngineerCommented:
Concerned about quality

Try this test ..
http://www.testmyvoip.com/
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scampgbCommented:
Hi pdoriley,

1
At a very basic level, you just need some software on the PC.  This is called a Softphone - popular ones are X-Lite (http://www.xten.com) and FireFly (http://www.freshtel.net/firefly/
It is pretty-much essential that you have a broadband internet connection.  You'll have real quality issues on anything less.

You will need a "SIP" provider - these are essentially the "telephone exchange" on the Internet, and SIP is the system of communication.  There are several that offer free Internet to Internet connections.  FWD is very popular - http://www.pulver.com/fwd
Many SIP providers will provide PSTN gateway service.  This allows you to make and receive calls to/from normal phone lines.  This is obviously charged for.
Google for a provider that meets your needs.

2
Yes... and no :-)
The trick here is how will the end users make the Internet call itself?  They could use softphones on their PCs, hardphones or an analogue phone adapter - take a look at http://www.voip-info.org/wiki-VOIP+Phones for info on this.
These are all "SIP" phones and would need to communicate with your account on the SIP server.  Many SIP providers will allow you to have several phones connected at once, which could well meet your needs.
Another option is to use a SIP-aware PBX, or an adaptor on your existing PBX.  This is a complex area, but I'm happy to advise if you can supply detailed information about your existing setup and what you want to achieve.

3
It ranges from "almost like calling next door" to "tin can and string".  
The real factors in it are the codec (how the conversation is transmitted over the Internet) and the network.  This is why broadband is important, but you need a link that's reliable otherwise you'll only hear every second word.
Go to http://www.testmyvoip.com and run the test there.  It'll give you an indication of how well it'll work and it'll help you understand where some of the issues can come up.
If you're using it commercially you need to make sure that you've got a good broadband connection and a router that does effective traffic prioritisation.  For example, you don't want a call to your client to be cut off because your anti-virus software has decided to update itself

4
Necessary, no :-)
You can use a SIP<>PSTN gateway provider so that you can call them on normal phone lines.
Where the Internet to PSTN conversion actually takes place can be a big factor in the costs and sound quality of the service.

You can find a huge amount of info at http://www.voip-info.org/

As for toll-bypass - yes, that's one benefit of VoIP - but it's only completely effective if the entire call is conducted over IP.  At the point where you have to move back to the PSTN costs are incurred.  However, as that'll be happening at the telco's location there are orders of magnitude benefits to be had there.
For example, from home you might use 300 call minutes per month, and the telco will charge you based on that volume.  A SIP<>PSTN provider would be buying thousands if not millions of call minutes.  The charge from the telco will be appropriate to that volume and the SIP<>PSTN provider can pass some of those savings on to you.

Note that some providers (I think Vonage is an example) include PSTN terminations in their monthly charge.  Others (like the ones I use) don't have a monthly fee and charge just for the minutes used.

Hopefully that lot gives you a feel for what's involved and what you can do.  As I said, it's a complex area but can be very worthwhile.
Let me know if you have any questions and I'll do my best to help.

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scampgbCommented:
Gosh - by the time I'd written all that alandc had posted much of it :-)
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Aland CoonsSystems EngineerCommented:
Oops.  My Bad.  It's been years since I've been using EE so I'm catching back up to speed. Thanks.
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scampgbCommented:
Glad I could help :-)
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mdubon3Commented:
in addition -
          linksys is selling a VoIP device that you can connect to your network - then you connect your "regular" phone to it and you can connect like that.
   You still have to sign up for service with a company but Like in previous comments is really inexpensive compared to other services.

http://www.linksys.com/products/product.asp?grid=33&scid=38&prid=651

http://www.vonage.com/

sounds like a very nice deal.  the only problem I see is the reliability of your internet connection.

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