VoIP Frequently Asked Questions
Q: How fast does my Internet connection have to be?
Unfortunately dial-up Internet connections are not fast enough for VoIP. A reliable broadband Internet connection such as dsl or cable is what is needed for high quality VoIP. The minimum bandwidth required for VoIP is 88 kbps in both the upload and download directions. If you are unsure if you have enough bandwidth for VoIP you can use a VoIP speed tester to test your Internet connection. Business users who might want to use multiple VoIP phone lines at once will require more bandwidth than residential users. An easy way to calculate how much bandwidth a business user might need is to multiple 90 kbps times the maximum number of business VoIP telephone lines you will be using at any one time. So a typical small office with 3 business VoIP telephone lines will need (3 times 88 kbps = 264 kbps) in both the upload and download directions. A good rule of thumb is to limit VoIP usage to no more than 50% of your maximum Internet bandwidth to be sure that you are always getting the best quality signal.
Q: Does VoIP work with satellite Internet service?
Voice over IP is not designed for satellite Internet service. Conversations are generally clear and audible, but because of the inherent delay in satellite Internet service the participants in a conversation will experience pauses between speaking and having the other person hear what was said. It takes nearly half a second for the signal to be received by the satellite and another half a second for the signal to be transmitted back to the ground. Therefore it takes at least one second for the person on the other end of the conversation to hear what you said. The end result is similar to a conversation using a walkie-talkie.
For normal VoIP telephone converations a DSL or cable connection or faster is ideal. VoIP with satellite Internet will still work but you will need to accept a much slower-paced conversation than you are used to.
Q: How does the voice clarity of VoIP compare to traditional telephone?
The quality of VoIP has steadily improved since its inception, and it now meets or exceeds the quality of a traditional landline. Voice clarity is determined by the quality of your VoIP provider and your Internet connection. See our VoIP requirements checklist
for more details.
Q: What is an IP Phone?
IP Phones are special telephones which look and work like normal telephone but they connect directly to your Internet connection without the use of an ATA device (to convert analog signals to digital signals). An IP Phone plugs directly into your Internet router and comes in both wireless and corded models. Business VoIP users generally opt for IP Phones because they have special buttons which allow calls to be transferred, put on hold and have multiple lines.
Q: What is an ATA device (analog telephone adapter)?
An ATA is a simple device which lets you connect any standard telephone or fax machine so it can use VoIP through your Internet connection. The ATA converts the analog signal from your telephone into digital data that can be transmitted over the Internet. ATAs are suitable for basic use but may not be compatible with all features. If you wish to take full advantage of Jive's powerful Business VoIP feature set, your best option is a true IP phone.
Q: What is a Virtual PBX?
One of the latest spin offs of VoIP technology is the virtual pbx or hosted pbx. This technology allows small and medium sized businesses to have a sophisiticated telephone system without the investment in telephone equipment. In fact the entire telephone system is operated and maintained by your VoIP service provider. A virtual pbx lets employees work from their home, hotels or on their cell phones while still being connected to the same office telephone system. Just like a Fortune 500 telephone system, you can transfer callers, put them on hold with music, setup conference calls or have the phone answered by an automated attendant who can direct callers to different departments.
Q: What is QoS (Quality of Service) and why is it important?
QoS is a feature of many modern routers which connect you to your Internet service provider. Voice over IP is a realtime protocol which means that if it is interupted by other bandwidth intensive applications such as video, peer to peer file sharing or even sending a large e-mail it can affect the clarity of the digital audio signal. Quality of service on your router makes sure that lower priority bandwidth like peer to peer file sharing is does not interfere with voice conversations by giving it a lower priority. QoS makes sure that enough bandwidth is reserved for VoIP conversations, and it gives those conversation higher priority. In a business environment QoS is a good idea because of the number of applications sharing the Internet connection with VoIP. A alternative to quality of service is to have a dedicated Internet connection just for VoIP in which QoS is not required.
Q: Can I keep my phone number and use VoIP?
In most cases you can keep your existing phone number and transfer it allowing you to start receiving all your calls via Voice-over-IP. It all depends on whether we have service in the city where your telephone number is located.
Q: Does my computer need to be turned on to use VoIP?
No, as long as your Internet connection is working you can use VoIP with your computer turned off. Just plug your telephone into the VoIP adapter or your VoIP telephone into your Internet connection and you will always have VoIP telephone service.
Q: Can I get local telephone numbers in other area codes other than mine?
One of the great benefits of VoIP is that you can have a telephone number assigned to you in an area code where you do not live or work. Businesses often want to have a local presence in many different cities with a local phone number for customers to call. Business VoIP service allows a customer to call that local number which can be answered by the company anywhere in the country. Residential customers get virtual telephone numbers in local cities so that friends and family can call them without incurring long distance charges.
Q: Can I take my phone number with me when I travel?
Yes, as long as you have access to a high speed Internet connection you can take your analog telephone adapter with you when you travel so that you can always be reached. Many business VoIP customers install a soft phone on their laptops so that they can make and receive calls no matter where they are.