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What Equipment Is Needed for VoIP?

NetJOI VoIP - picture of linking network connection points

This article will briefly discuss the differences between VoIP and PSTN, the equipment required to make VoIP calls, and the role of ATA adapters. A good understanding of these technologies will help you to make an informed decision about the best VoIP solution for your calling needs.

The advantages of leveraging VoIP for businesses or individuals are overwhelming – you can make crystal clear, error free calls to anywhere in the world for a small fraction of the cost of a mobile or landline call. Understanding the necessary equipment to make a VoIP call is essential to get the full benefits of a VoIP service. Typically, this includes a strong broadband internet connection, VoIP-enabled devices – or traditional telephones with an Analog Telephone Adapter (ATA) – and suitable software or applications.

What are the main differences between PSTN and VoIP?

PSTN stands for Public Switched Telephone Network and is the traditional infrastructure of global telephone systems that utilizes copper wires to carry voice data. Most PSTN were established over a century ago, during the early days when the telephone was first introduced and the PSTN network forms the backbone of international telecommunications by linking private and business telephones worldwide. The key feature of PSTN is that it establishes a dedicated channel for the duration of a call, guaranteeing consistent and reliable voice quality. Landline telephones leverage the PSTN network to make and receive calls.

VoIP stands for Voice over Internet Protocol and the technology uses packet-switched networks to transmit voice data in packets over the internet or other IP networks. In other words, VoIP leverages the same network that allows you to read this webpage (or other webpages), to stream YouTube or Netflix, to browse social media, and to send your voice to someone next door, in the nearest city or anywhere around the world.

The key distinction lies in the infrastructure each utilizes. PSTN requires a vast network of physical lines and switches, which are expensive to maintain and challenging to scale. VoIP, however, can easily scale as it depends on existing internet connections, eliminating the need for dedicated phone lines. This flexibility also allows VoIP to integrate seamlessly with various digital services, enhancing functionality with features like voicemail to email, video calls, and real-time messaging.

Cost also differentiates the two technologies. VoIP generally offers lower operational costs due to reduced infrastructure and maintenance requirements. Additionally, it typically provides cheaper long-distance and international calling rates. Regarding quality, PSTN is known for its reliability and clear voice quality, but VoIP quality has greatly improved with advancements in technology, making it a competitive alternative that aligns well with the digital-centric landscape of modern communications.

What equipment do you need for a VoIP Service?

To take full advantage of a VoIP system, you will need a dependable internet connection, VoIP-compatible devices, and potentially additional adapters or headsets. A high-speed broadband internet connection is essential to guarantee high-quality voice transmissions without lag or interruptions. The minimum bandwidth required can vary depending on the provider and the number of concurrent calls.

To make VoIP calls, you can use:-

  1. VoIP-compatible devices include computers, smartphones, or specialized VoIP phones (Ooma is one example). Using a computer for VoIP calls requires softphone software, which replicates the functionalities of a phone on your screen. Smartphones can simply download a VoIP application (Skype is an example), allowing them to make calls over a data connection. Conversely, VoIP phones are specifically designed for this technology and often provide superior sound quality and reliability compared to other devices.
  2. For those using tradition analog telephones, a specific type of adapter, Analog Telephone Adapter (ATA), might be necessary to connect these devices to a VoIP network, enabling them to function without conventional phone lines.

What’s an ATA Adapter and how do I connect it?

Front and Back view of the Grandstream HT802 device
Front and Back view of the Grandstream HT802 device

An ATA converts traditional analog phone signals into digital signals that can be transmitted over the internet, allowing your old phone (landline) to make VoIP calls. This device serves as a bridge, connecting the old technology of analog telephones to the modern digital world of internet communication.

NetJOI’s VoIP service supports a number of ATA Adapters including:

  1. Grandstream HT802
  2. Grandstream HT701
  3. Grandstream HT702
  4. Grandstream HT704
  5. Linksys PAP2T
  6. Cisco SPA122
  7. Cisco SPA2102

The process of setting up an ATA adapter is straightforward but requires careful attention to ensure everything functions correctly.

Here are the generic steps to connect an ATA adapter:

  1. Link the ATA to your router:
    – Use an Ethernet cable to connect the ATA device’s Internet, WAN, or LAN port to one of the available ports on your router. This connection enables the adapter to access the internet which is essential for VoIP functionality.
  2. Attach your telephone to the ATA:
    – Plug your analog phone into the port on the ATA labeled ‘Phone’. Confirm that the connection is secure to avoid any potential issues with call quality or connection.
  3. Power up the system:
    – Finally, connect the ATA adapter to a power source. Once powered, the adapter may need a few moments to boot up. During this time, it typically configures itself automatically or might require configuration via a web interface, depending on the model.

Following these steps, your old phone is now VoIP-ready, allowing you to enjoy the benefits of modern internet-based telephony.

Note: NetJOI ATA Adapters are already pre-configured and ready to go. Simply connect to your electrical power, plug in your handset and you’re ready to go!

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