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When converting from traditional telephone service to VoIP, many people choose to use their old analog phones and convert the signal using an adaptor or router. This may not, however, be possible for all service providers. For state-of-the art installations or installations where VoIP phone hardware is required, the choice is to upgrade your handsets to VoIP phones. These special VoIP phones may look just like a traditional telephone handsets but instead of having the standard RJ-11 phone connection you are accustomed to, they will have an Ethernet connector (RJ-45). VoIP phones connect directly to your network, probably through your router. True VoIP phones have all the hardware and software you need to take advantage of all the features VoIP telephony.
VoIP phone communication requires a broadband (high speed Internet) connection which you can access through a cable modem or other high speed service. This service will be purchased from a third party provider. If you want to access VoIP phone services using your traditional hand sets, you will need your computer, a router or ATA adaptor. If you have a true VoIP phone, your connection will be directly through your broadband connection and you will dial just as you normally would. You can also access VoIP phone service directly through your computer. This will require software and a headset/microphone. USB VoIP phone sets are also available and very convenient.
There are different types of VoIP phones. An Ethernet hard VoIP phone will look to the naked eye much like a traditional handset. Its connection is through an Ethernet port and it will communicate directly through your VoIP connection. It does not require a computer and it operates essentially the same way that your old landline did. In many cases you will actually have a dial tone.
One of the more popular VoIP phone options is a cordless phone with base station. These convenient VoIP phones contain the Internet interface in the base station. Another less prevalent type of VoIP phone is a dialup hard phone with a built-in modem. We don’t see this type of phone too often in North America, but there are places in the world where this type of phone is necessary due to limited access to broadband connections. These phones connect to a VoIP server via a dial-up Internet connection.
Another VoIP phone option to consider is a WiFi phone. A WiFi VoIP phone generally has a built in transmitter which connects to a WiFi base station. From the base station the signal is transmitted to a remote VoIP server. WiFi VoIP phones do not require a computer.
As you research your options for VoIP phones you may see references to hard phones and soft phones. We have discussed several hard phone options above. These are actual handsets that work with VoIP technology. When we receive our telephone service through your computer using software and a headset/microphone it is referred to as a soft phone. A key advantage of soft phones is that they can be considerably cheaper than hard phones. In fact, there are many soft phone options that are available for very little cost or free.

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