Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) allows you to use the Internet for your phone calls instead of your traditional land line based phone line. VOIP allows businesses and consumers alike to save astronomical amounts of money on their phone bills by routing phone calls over the Internet. VOIP also enables Unified Messaging, which integrates email, voice mail, IM, and calendaring. Major consumer-level networking equipment makers such as D-Link, NETGEAR, and Linksys are also getting into the act, selling VOIP phones that work with their Wi-Fi routers.
The biggest advantage to using VOIP is the cost savings. Typically, PC to PC VOIP calls are free, while PC to phone calls depends on service providers. Most VOIP provider packages include unlimited calling to and from your number, regardless of what country you call or where you call from. Another biggest advantage is simplicity. Placing a VOIP call over a VOIP phone is usually no more complicated than placing a normal phone call. Next advantage is portability. You can take your VOIP phone with you and use it anywhere that a broadband Internet connection is available. VOIP can be used with Instant Messengers with their voice calling features including MSN, Google Talk and even Skype.
In spite of the above pros, there are some major disadvantages that you need to take care of before investing on VOIP. The biggest problem of VOIP is sound quality. Without high bandwidth and good model, it is impossible for you to get decent sound quality from a VOIP system. Most VOIP packages and services do not yet offer any kind of encryption solution. Wired Equivalent Privacy is used for encryption rather than Wi-Fi Protected Access. Caller ID is included with most VOIP packages. Some VOIP service providers require you to buy the phones (and associated routers) and then they will you every month for the service. Main disadvantage includes no continuous service during a power outage and emergency calls.