Forget about terms like Web 2.0, Cloud Computing and the rest. These are all esoteric terms that may offer us some additional convenience, but are not things that we will directly use and offer immediate benefits. VoIP, or Voice over Internet Protocol, is different. It is a practical application that we can use every day and which offers a new level of communications and huge cost reductions, both for business and home users.
First and foremost among VoIP benefits is that it is much cheaper than using landlines or cell phones for communications. With traditional phone networks, you pay for each minute you talk. In the case of long distance calls this can become expensive and for international calls the costs can become prohibitive. With VoIP your calls are routed through the internet and cost you almost nothing. The actual traffic cost becomes part of the monthly subscription you pay to your Internet Service Provider and is included in the bandwidth / traffic limit you are entitled to. There are no extra long distance charges. You will have to use the services of a VoIP Service Provider to route your calls and download them to a telephone or cell phone network if you are calling one of these numbers. Many service providers offer free basic service, and while they may charge for landline and cell phone connectivity and value added services, this still works out to a far lower cost than a traditional landline or cell phone call. The savings can be up to 75% of your normal telephone bill.
Even if you opt for some extra paid services, you can choose one of the fixed monthly charge plans so your budgeting becomes easier.
One of the major VoIP benefits is that you can set up conference calls to a large number of people simultaneously. This makes both business and personal communications easier and more effective. Since everyone involved in the call will be on the same page, the chances of misunderstandings are reduced as is the need to send details of the discussions to those who could not be included in a landline call.
Depending one the type of service you opt for, you can have a much richer communications experience because among the VoIP benefits is the transmission of images, video, text and whiteboard data along with the call. Instead of describing something, you can send the image or video that lets other see what you are talking about. The text facility allows you to send private text messages to selected people within the framework of a conference call. And the ability to send whiteboard imagery provides for a clearer conveying of thoughts and ideas.
Other VoIP benefits include caller ID, voicemail, fax transmission without the need of a fax machine, call waiting and call number blocking. The latter is very useful as it allows for the blocking of calls from specific numbers or redirecting them to voice mail or an alternate phone number.
Many VoIP service providers offer a failsafe option wherein if your internet connection is not working, incoming calls are automatically diverted to a predefined landline or cell phone number so you can be sure you never miss any calls.