With so many changes in the telecommunications industry, it’s easy to get confused about phone service options. Today’s consumers have the option of not only choosing their service provider, but also the type of service they want— and for most of us, that means choosing between Voice-over Internet Protocol (VoIP) or a traditional landline. Here are some of the key differences between VoIP and landline phone services.

Landline Phone Services

With a landline phone service, your home is connected, via a copper wire, to a local phone network. When you make a call, the local network’s circuit switches connect you to a public telephone network. Using copper wires that carry analog voice data, this network connects your call to the right number.

VoIP Services

While a landline utilizes copper wires that carry analog voice data, a VoIP system uses packet-switched technology. This converts the analog voice data into a digital format, and enables the call to travel along network packets via the Internet.

Landline Versus VoIP

Here are some of the key differences between a landline and VoIP:

  • Internet connection: With VoIP, you’ll need a broadband Internet connection and an adapter to connect the phone line to a modem. With a landline, no Internet connection is necessary.
  • 911 services: On a landline, 911 calls are automatically traced. With VoIP, however, 911 can’t always be traced.
  • Power outages: With VoIP, you’ll lose service during a power outage, but landline services will usually stay intact.
  • Internet disruptions: If there’s a disruption in your Internet service, your VoIP will be affected, but your landline won’t.
  • Upgrades: Landlines can be constantly upgraded with new equipment. Likewise, VoIP can also be upgraded by new software and bandwidth expansion.
  • Long distance: On a landline, long distance is charged per minute or through a bundled subscription package. On VoIP, long distance is much cheaper and is included in an affordable monthly phone charge.
  • Extra features: On a landline, features such as caller ID and call waiting are available for a monthly fee. With VoIP, these features are usually free.

Differences in Costs

Because VoIP uses the Internet instead of an extensive phone network, it’s cheaper to operate, and these savings are passed on to the consumer. VoIP is significantly less expensive than landline services, and this is a deciding factor for many consumers.

If you’re trying to decide between using VoIP or landline services, consider the costs versus the features you may gain or lose. By doing your homework and researching your options, you can make an educated decision about which plan will be right for you.

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