What is the difference between VOIP and a regular landline phone?

March 6, 2017

Dear Consumer Ed:

My phone company has offered to give me a lower rate on my phone service if I switch to something called VOIP.  What in the world is that?  Will my phone work if the power goes out?

Consumer Ed says:

VOIP is an acronym for “Voice over Internet Protocol”.  VOIP is a service that allows you to make and receive phone calls via a broadband internet connection.  It can work one of two ways.  Instead of being connected to the phone line coming into your home, the phone is connected to a small box called a digital terminal adapter (“dta”).   The other option is that you can use an IP phone, an instrument which connects directly to your internet connection.  One benefit is that you can transport your IP phone and use it anywhere that you can plug it into a broadband internet connection.    

Your telephone company should be able to offer you a minute-structured plan or unlimited plan like a cell phone plan that eliminates unregulated charges and includes free features such as caller ID, call waiting, call transfer, repeat dial, return calling and three-way calling.  With many services, you may also be able to check voice mail on the internet.

The one major drawback is that your phone will not work if the power goes out, unless you have a backup power supply to support your internet service.