Learn about VoIP Features
One of the primary concerns that consumers indicate when considering switching to VoIP service is that it lacks the features and/or convenience of their standard telephone line. While this may have been true for the earliest VoIP services offered, competition among providers has resulted in a suite of services that meet or exceed those offered by a traditional land or cell phone line. And the best thing about all these features? VoIP doesn't nickel and dime you for every additional feature, charged .99 cents here and 5$ there to result in a telephone bill far above the actual quoted rate!
However, what features are being offered is something that you will want to consider when selecting a VoIP provider. Make sure that they do, in fact, offer all the same services as your landline phone service, and if there are limitations you are aware of them. Some services are limited to computer to computer calling, and others require that both parties have a VoIP enabled phone. In addition, read the fine print, unlimited service could mean only unlimited to those in the VoIP provider network. Not only should you be aware of the traditional features you will be getting free as part of your service package, you should also investigate the multiple features that VoIP service offers that standard telephone service cannot. Some of these, due to their select and specific nature, will have extra fees that you can opt to pay if you wish to have the service. With VoIP service, you as the consumer have incredibly flexibility to determine what type of service best fits your needs, and what extra features not offered by a standard telephone company are worth paying for.
The following bulleted lists are short descriptions of all the features VoIP service can offer. The services listed under the Included section are ones that are commonly considered to be part of the package deal with most VoIP providers. The Extras section describes those features that are available only to consumers utilizing a VoIP service, and therefore usually carry with them an additional fee. Please be aware that this particular listing and arrangement is merely an overview, and it is your responsibility to carefully read your contract with the VoIP provider you select to verify what is included in your service fee.
Call Forwarding: VoIP allows some fabulous enhancement in addition to standard call forwarding. With VoIP, you can also opt to have the call forwarded to more than one number, down your prioritized list of as many as 4 or 5 additional numbers. That way you can make sure you are reached wherever you are!
Voicemail: VoIP voicemail is stored in a digital mailbox, similar to an email inbox, and accessed the same way, with messages stored as digital audio files (like MP3s). Allows long-term storage of messages, easily handles multiple callers, and simple forwarding of messages to other concerned parties. They can also be received as email attachments if you are in a place where receiving audio is inconvenient.
Last Number Re-dial: Just like you're used to with standard traditional phone service.
Caller ID: Just like traditional Caller ID, to see the name of the caller attached to the number, you just enter them into your online contact list, with VoIP, it works simultaneous with call waiting. Another option with many VoIP providers is reversing the procedure, which prevents your number from showing, called Caller ID Block.
Call Blocking: VoIP service alone offers this option, and it is generally part of every existing service package. It allows you to select certain numbers which simply do not ring through to your connection once placed on the Call Blocking list.
3-Way Calling: Enables you to connect with a third party during a call, enabling everyone to both listen and speak and talk, and is much simpler with VoIP than you might have experienced with other services.
Call Waiting: Similar to traditional service, the main difference is that VoIP allows you to place either call on hold, even before answering closer to how a cell phone works.
911 Services: FCC mandates, increasingly advanced technology and specific arrangements with emergency service personnel have combined to fix one of the biggest initial concerns with VoIP. Be responsible and aware of your specific VoIP provider's emergency requirements, procedures and regulations and make sure you are compliant.
Conference Calling: This is just like 3-way calling, but with up to 4-10 callers linked into one conversation or meeting.
411 Directory: Similar to traditional landline service, dialing 411 will provide you with contact information for most businesses and individuals. However, VoIP providers fee for this service is usually much lower than a traditional phone company's would be.
Fax: You can choose to pay a small extra fee to your VoIP service provider to have a fax number added to your service. Sending faxes via the internet instead of standard phone lines can be a dramatic cost reducer.
Video Over IP: Fairly self-explanatory, allows images to be transmitted as well as voice, so you have essentially a live video conference for the cost of a phone call.
Phone Number Portability: This VoIP service allows you to maintain the same phone number regardless of relocation, as long as you keep up account with the same VoIP provider. This can be incredibly helpful to those who move around a lot, because you don't have to redistribute your number to your friends, family or customer base.
Virtual Numbers: Allows you to establish a phone number with the area code of an area in which you do not reside, to facilitate low-cost calling to individuals or businesses wishing to contact you from that area code.
Toll free numbers: This is how virtual numbers are provided in the United States. You can opt to have yourself or your business assigned a 1800 or 1888 by your VoIP provider.
International Numbers: International virtual numbers can also be assigned by your VoIP provider. These are usually just an additional phone number within your target area code that is assigned to you. This can save big money of you are the one paying for all international telephone contact, even when you are not the initiator.