Is VoIP The Same As a Landline?

by | Apr 25, 2019 | VOICE OVER IP | 0 comments

You may wonder, “What is it that sets VoIP apart from traditional landlines?” and “How can VoIP really help in my home or in my business?” Today, we’ll demonstrate the basic concept of VoIP and do an elaborate comparison with traditional landlines to give you a much clearer idea of these two systems of communication.

The quick answer to the questions above is that the VoIP is as good as a landline and often under certain circumstances, even better than traditional landlines. Here is a little bit about landlines – it uses 64kbps to transmit your voice from end to end. VoIP can also use that same speed to deliver your voice from end to end.

However, what happens when your internet connection is slow or experiencing some unusual traffic, then what should you do? This is the beauty of using VoIP – it can automatically use slower speed such as G.729 code to transmit your voice, which only requires 16kpbs internet bandwidth.

Don’t let technical topics intimidate you. This article will use the simplest language and terms possible in order to highlight and help you understand the key differences that lie between VoIP and landlines. So, if you want to know more, keep on reading!

What is VoIP?

VoIP is simply an acronym for “Voice over Internet Protocol”. Essentially, VoIP technology is a category of hardware and software that lets people communicate over the internet. The medium of transmission is the internet, which allows people to make telephone calls freely. The terms IP telephony, broadband telephony or internet telephony are using interchangeably with VoIP telephony.

How does VoIP work?

VoIP allows you to make cheap telephone calls over a broadband Internet connection, usually using a DSL, broadband cable connection, or T1. You will understand it better once you are familiar with the framework of the VoIP telephony service.

The first step in VoIP telephony is the conversion of an analog signal into a digital signal. This is done by an ATA (Analog Telephone Adapter) or IP phone. Then, it is converted to data packets and sent over the internet to a location close to the destination. After that, the data is converted back to an analog signal for the remaining distance, which is done over a traditional circuit switch (PSTN). However, if the transmission is from VoIP to VoIP, this is not necessary.

In Depth Of Understanding Of VoIP

For better understanding, consider comparing VoIP with voice recording on a computer. Just as the computer uses simple CODECs to alter analog signals to digital audio, VoIP technology does too. However, the CODECs used in VoIP are much more complicated. Using CODECs simply means encoding voice into digital data, and then decoding them back to audio data. CODEC is the abbreviation of “encoder and decoder”. CODECs compress the data so that they take up less space, transmit at a faster speed, reduce bandwidth and provide the best quality sound.

Once the computer records the audio and compresses them into small samples, they are collected in large groups and placed into data packets. These are transmit over the communication network, which is also known as the IP network. The whole process is known as “packetization”.

The process of “packetization” is more or less obvious from the name itself. Compare this with writing postcards. The amount of postcards required to send messages is directly proportional to the amount of information packed in them. Longer messages require more postcards and shorter ones require less. The same system works for VoIP. You will need more packets of data to transmit longer messages and lesser ones for shorter messages. In addition, to understand the messages in the postcard, they have to align chronologically. These same basics apply for VoIP telephony.

Peer To Peer Calling

For VoIP, it is not necessary that both you and the receiver are VoIP users. The recipient can be an ordinary landline, another VoIP network user or even a desktop or computer user. Of course, things are easier if both you and the person on the other end are VoIP users. In this case, the total journey of your phone call will take place over the internet and have a more efficient flow of information. Calls travel as far as possible using VoIP and then switches to the public phone network to reach its destination.

How does traditional landline work?

Although the traditional phone lines you use at your house have a very simple structure and functionality, they are one of humankind’s best creations introduced around the late 19th century. The old school telephone placed at a corner of your house consists only of three basic parts: a switch, a speaker and a microphone.

The switch also called the hook switch, connects and disconnects calls when you lift and drop the receiver. The speaker is typically a little 50-cent, 8-ohm speaker. Finally, the microphone is responsible for flowing the voice information using granules. A typical landline consists of solid core, twisted pair copper wire, and plugs into a two or four pin wall jack.

Despite this being simple anatomy, the process requires a hefty amount of effort and travel distance. The telephone network starts in your house with a pair of copper wires running from a box outside it. The pair of wires connect to each phone jack at your house and require separate pairs for more telephone connections.

Let’s Take a Look Cabling. 

A thick cable packed with a hundred or more copper pairs runs along the road directly to the phone company’s switch in your area, termed as the “digital concentrator”. The concentrator digitizes your voice and combines it with that of others. Then it is sent down a single wire, which is usually a coax cable or a fiber-optic cable to the phone company office.

Analog phones are also known as Plain Old Telephone Service (POTS) with each subscriber having a unique phone number assigned to them. In a modern telephone system, the operator is replaced with an electronic switch. Thus, when you pick up the phone, the switch plays a dial tone upon sensing a completion of your loop. In this way, you will know if the switch and your phone are working.

Differences between VoIP and traditional landline

When you get into business, many important initial decisions have to be made which will eventually define how your firm runs in the long run. One of these important decisions in your choice of communication network is, “Will you go for traditional landlines or the modern VoIP?” In this section, I will exclusively walk you through the differences between the two.

Anatomy

As discussed above, VoIP and POTS have very different anatomy and functionality. On one hand, traditional phone lines use a flow of copper wires and data transmitting by circuit switching. On the other hand, VoIP telephony works in the cloud where you can go wireless and data transmission is done through circuit switching.

Features

VoIP and POTS differ heavily in terms of features. Being an older installment in the communication framework, landline phones are limited to only the most basic features. These typically include caller ringtone, call waiting, caller ID, call blocking, call hold feature, aborting call, voicemail and music for hold.

On the other hand, VoIP phones allow for a vast array of new and exciting features such as having a virtual receptionist, auto attendant, voicemail-to-email messaging, call forwarding, call parking, three-digit dialing, and much more.  

Flexibility

Traditional landline phones obviously offer less scope for flexibility. With POTS, you are stuck with a bulky device that is connected to wires emerging from your walls, and there is little scope you can switch to another device. However, with VoIP, you have the freedom to choose using which device you want to make and receive calls. You can choose between softphones, tablets, computers, mobile devices into a phone or an app, you can use almost any device with an internet connection.

Portability

A major difference between VoIP and POTS is their degree of portability. This is a derivation of flexibility. VoIP telephony comes with both flexibility and portability. You can carry your VoIP enabled device to technically anywhere you want, given their compact size and a vast choice of devices. You can use your own mobile phone to connect with employees and customers at your office.

However, the same benefits do not accompany traditional landlines. With POTS, you are stuck at one spot with attaching wires and cables. Additionally, all these wires can get tangled and clogged up so they require more effort in terms of maintenance. With VoIP phones, you get the support of Power over Ethernet (PoE). This uses a PoE switch instead of a power adapter reducing the clutter on your desk.  

Technology

It is a universal fact that VoIP technology is the upscale, improved and better version of the traditional POTS technology. As the digital communication technology takes massive strides of development, better services keep flowing in. This being said, landline phones are old school and do not have much scope left for development. With advanced technology, VoIP phones are continuously upgraded by adding more and better features.

Reliability

In a crowd full of VoIP applauding people, this one thing about landline telephones that has an edge above VoIP telephony. As landline phones are not dependent on your internet connection, they do not rely on your internet service provider for a reliable connection. They have their individual lines and save you from situations of a power outage, and instances of bad weather conditions such as storms. 

Voice Quality

It is still a topic of debate regarding which one provides better voice quality. Some users say analog and others vouch for digital. Their logic is based on the fact that VoIP telephony uses the internet to convey messages. So any disruption in the internet service will cause disruptions in the voice quality. This gives landline telephones an edge over the other.

On the contrary, in VoIP telephony, voice signals are compressed into digital phone networks and thus unnecessary frequency bands are taken out as the audio travels. This results in better sound quality, compared to analog phone service. Furthermore, VoIP phones function with an HD voice, which has twice the audio range of landline calls. 

Cost

A major factor to consider while choosing the communication platform for your home or business is the cost associated. This too depends on the location you are opting for. For a single home telephone network, a landline will do the job in a feasible manner. However, if you are assessing the costs associated with installing a communication infrastructure in your business, then VoIP will provide you with the best solutions.

VoIP telephones are much cheaper than traditional phone lines. As they are run by the internet, many costs are eliminated in the first place. Furthermore, you can make international calls at local rates serving your international clients without worrying about the length of calls.  

Equipment

VoIP does not only cut down on costs but also reduces the number of equipment and resources that are required. Other than using any device with an internet connection and microphone as a VoIP device, you can also take advantage of dedicated hosting. This means you can buy or lease out the VoIP telephone and let the IT team self-host and manage the service.

This will let your internet service provider, given they offer this option, look after and maintain your VoIP telephony service. This requires limited in-house support equipment and you can focus on other important areas of your business operations. However, this is not the case with traditional phone lines where you will require individual telephone sets along with various wire connections.

Productivity

With all the features and the use of internet combined, VoIP provides more opportunities to be productive compared to traditional landlines. From the efficient transmission of voice data to useful features such as multiple call lines, you can be more productive and efficient using VoIP telephony. It is a noteworthy concern that these options do not accompany traditional phone lines.

Scalability

If you are an entrepreneur who plans, then this is a crucial factor for you to consider. Scalability means adjusting with the surrounding, a quality which VoIP technology offers. Landline systems are limited to the number of lines that you have connected, and adding more lines require installing and upgrading your hardware. But, VoIP systems rely solely on your internet connection. As a result, you can add and eliminate unlimited number of lines, given that you have a strong internet connection to support it.

Ease of Use

Both VoIP and landline provide this advantage in their own ways. Installing VoIP is a simple process. You can start using the device right away once you are done with registration as there are no red tapes involved. However, after completing the registration process, once you start using it, things can get difficult for users who are not that tech savvy.

Although the phones look almost the same, the functionality is quite different such as the placement of buttons and their functions. Grasping and understanding the system can take a while but once you are through that stage, benefits will start to reap.

Things to consider

When making the correct pick, many things need consideration; whether you will go for VoIP or traditional landline. Some important factors to evaluate beforehand are:

Quality

People are considering calling quality issues when talking about VoIP. However, I can tell you that this is not an issue with VoIP. Think about it this way; when was the last time you lost your internet connection completely? If you can rapidly answer this question, I can tell you, you are in no problem with using VoIP. With fast advancing technology, innovators and researchers have been able to close the gap between poor quality internet connections which lead to bad quality calls.

Stability

With a great internet connection, you also don’t need to worry about stability issues. Although VoIP relies on the internet, this is no reason to abstain from enjoying all the other benefits it comes with. All you have to do is do some background research on the available ISPs. Choose one within good proximity to your location and look for user rates and reviews. You can also opt for one with a trial period. In this way, you will not be at risk of making any commitments or losing money unnecessarily.

Security

As a potential user of VoIP technology, I know you are having security concerns. Well, your concerns are justified as VoIP initiates the risk of hackers and phone tapping. However, do not worry because this too has a solution. Consult with your internet service provider about the possibilities of this and how to avoid it. There is a huge number of VoIP users worldwide and surely they have come up with a solution of their own. Perhaps you can take additional security measures to conceal your phone lines and keep malicious hackers away.

FAQ Section:

Is VoIP better than landline?

This depends on the purpose of getting a communication system. If you are installing a communication network for your house, then landline is not a bad option. In fact, many houses still go for this and continue to use POTS. Nevertheless, if you want a phone system in your home with the latest features and have no problem in adhering to change, then VoIP is a good choice.

However, if you want to establish a means of communicating within your business, then VoIP is the way to go. VoIP has grown in popularity among businesses, especially in sales-oriented jobs and call centers. With its cost saving, scalability and diversified features, small and large businesses alike should invest in VoIP telephony.

Do I still need a landline for VoIP?

In straightforward words, no. VoIP does not require a landline for connection. As mentioned earlier, many devices can be set up with VoIP telephony by default. Although the telephone equipment look alike, a landline is not compatible with the use of VoIP. VoIP makes it unnecessary to have a traditional phone line installed in your business or residence since you can make calls using your internet connection.

Can I get rid of my landline?

Of course, you can! VoIP is quickly becoming the most popular form of telecommunication in the world. If you want to switch over to VoIP, you can get rid of your landline and its lengthy wires.

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