VoIP guide: Voice over IP in Australia

What is VoIP and how does it work?

If you find yourself groaning every time you open your monthly telephone phone bill, there's a technology that can help you to significantly slash those hefty call costs.

Since it first appeared in the mid 1990s, VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) has been used by growing numbers of people to avoid pricey phone calls. It does this by sending calls over the internet rather than traditional phone networks.

Making use of the internet in this way means the cost of calls can be significantly below that charged by phone companies. In some cases, calls can even be free.

The technology underpinning VoIP was initially developed in the late 1970s, but it took almost 20 years to evolve from a computer novelty into a household service. It's now used by hundreds of thousands of people every day.

VoIP works in a relatively simple way. Each time you make a phone call your voice is converted into a stream of data. Then, rather than being sent over the phone network, this data stream travels over your broadband internet connection.

Each data packet is labelled with its destination address (the person you're calling) and moves through the internet in the same way as web pages and file downloads. When they get to their destination, the packets are reassembled and converted back into sound waves. When you have this process happening simultaneously in two directions, you've got a phone call.

If the person you're calling is also using a VoIP service, your call will remain on the internet for its entire journey. However, if you're dialling a conventional phone, the call will be carried as far as possible over the internet before being handed back to the relevant phone network.

Most VoIP services also come with an allocated landline phone number which allows other people to call you. In these cases the call will be routed to the nearest handover point (called a POP or point of presence) and then travel over the internet to your VoIP phone or computer.

The benefits

The biggest benefit of VoIP can be summed up in a single word: cost. Because VoIP service providers avoid carrier phone networks, they're able to keep their charges for calls very low. In fact, if you're calling someone who uses the same VoIP service, the call is likely to be free.

Local and national calls tend to be offered for a single per-call charge, rather than being time based. This is achieved by carrying the call over the internet to the local area of the person being called before handing it back to the phone network. That way it's treated as a local call by the phone carrier.

International calls are typically charged in increments of cents per minute. Some VoIP service providers even offer all-you-can-eat international calling plans to selected countries.

As well as cheap calls, most VoIP providers also offer a smorgasbord of included features. This is possible because VoIP calls are essentially a stream of data and can therefore be processed and stored in a range of interesting ways.

For example, many VoIP providers offer a free voice mail box that can send you an email alert each time a message is left. Other features on offer include caller ID, caller blocking and call diversions to another nominated phone number.

Some service providers also offer three-way calling, where you can set up a mini-conference call with two other people, as well as do-not-disturb and follow-me functions where calls divert to another number if not answered within a pre-determined period of time.

The end result is a telephone service that can be far more flexible than a traditional offering, and is comparable to sophisticated business systems costing many thousands of dollars.

Add Your Comment 79

Post comment as

tazman10867 posted a comment   

i have magicjack it is only available in the us but can be used anywhere with the american number i think i pay $30 for the whole year which saves me thousands as all my family lives in the states.they can also call me because as i said it is an american number.i dont know how i would survive without it.it is well worth the investment


JaneS posted a comment   


You may also check this video on what VoIP is. It is based on Ozeki Phone System XE and it fairly explains VoIP technology:



Paresh posted a comment   

You forgot to mention Pennytel Voip service provider. just compare pennytel with other, you will amaze.


Doodles posted a comment   

Agreed that MyNetFone is a competent and well-priced service, their policy and accounts department are too hard-nosed for words. Apart from billing for mobile calls not made, more recently they've double-billed me and won't discuss it. (I had an account working ok, and then agreed to take on a different account they were touting, which required a new voice-box (?). I waited and waited for the bloody thing to arrive, and tried to call them several times, but there was no answer over the holidays. Today I discovered they've been billing me for the new (non-existent) service as well as the previous one which had not been disconnected. They insisted that since the second account was for a 6-month period, I'd have to pay a penalty to disconnect it (EVEN THOUGH IT'S NOT CONNECTED, SINCE THE RELEVANT EQUIPMENT HASN'T ARRIVED) if I decided to stay with the old account. Told them to get stuffed and am now looking for a different provider.


DScro posted a comment   

Skype have gone from a service provider to a ‘rape and pillage’ for profit only provider, since the takeover from the founders and hence is a unstable provider .... it is recommended that alternative systems be used if consistent quality service is part of your requirements


Ray posted a comment   

I am a research student and this article has been helpful to me in a paper I'm writing on how Voice Over IP works.

In relation to this topic, I found another good read here -> http://www.cisco.com/web/ANZ/netsol/en/voip_phone/index.html


ray posted a comment   

im ith go talkover 2 yers now and xcept for thelast to weeks everythinghas been great.However i must say the problem is now fixed so i might gie them another chance.One thing is for sur telstra will never ever get my buisnss again .So ya go talk have been good for me


looking for voip posted a comment   

is there is link for this video phone, where we can get it. ANy one else using the video phone?


dieseldoc posted a comment   

i have a good offer from dodo...broadband /home phone with voip...anyone know anything about dodo...competence service etc?


T-man posted a reply   

Worst customer service experience I've ever had, tried to stitch me up to a 48 month contract, lucky the ombudsman was on my side.

Sponsored Links

Recently Viewed Products