4. The Key To Success
Until the VoIP situation somehow gets stabilized, VoIP novice users are in for a rough time as soon as they set themselves to accessing this “brave new world.” The dozens of VoIP applications, the five different communication models (either open or closed ones), the at least five differing codecs as well as the thousands of VoIP telecommunication providers founded all over the world, providing various-occasionally differentiated-services at varying costs and within ranging geographical limitations, are amongst the causes to confusion.
Things are getting rougher when the two parties engaging in VoIP, wish direct communication with no providers involved, like for example the Windows Messenger, the Skype or any other, since the firewall, the NAT, VPN-even differing operating systems in each party-may generate a number of varying situations. Yet, all turn out evidently well in case an intermediary VoIP access provider or a communications application of some kind is in hand, as the user is guided in all stages from opening their account and downloading the application to handling their account.
This way, of course, allows a sort of “binding” with the specific VoIP service provider, whereas, if you wish to change it, a new application is required along with a fresh account being opened, new adjustments, and so on.
FIRST STEP. We shall start with the computer and the connection to the Internet, which, as shown by all indications, will have to be an ADSL one at 256/128 kbps at least. Even though VoIP communication via a 56kbps dialup is attainable, the limitation are many, both at an applications as well as facilities provided level and at voice quality. The basic gear will have to include a microphone-headphones set, the installation and proper function of which is required. In case there is an ADSL connection [the faster the better], a specialized ADSL VoIP router or Analog Terminal Adapter [ATA] can be installed. Thus, the connection of the telephone sets already existing at home to achieve VoIP calls is facilitated even if our computer is off.
SECOND STEP. You will have to make a list of your telecommunication needs. VoIP telephony still has a lot of stability problems to come up against with, due to the big number of the intermediary parties involved and to the varying quality of the services offered. That means that for no reason whatsoever should you abandon fixed telephony, at least for the next couple of years. To continue, you must select a provider to your liking, on the grounds of its geographical coverage and of course the cost of the services it has to offer. One thing you should keep in mind is that the cost of international calls compared with the ones made through fixed telephony networks is still high.
THIRD STEP. A prerequisite to step into the VoIP world is to own a credit card. The aforesaid condition is a deterrent in itself, to a lot of people. However, a credit card is necessary to pre-buy communication time that will be later consumed. The only solution to avoiding credit cards is the employment of local VoIP providers as well as alternative ways of payment like a bank deposit or a deposit with the Western Union.
FOURTH STEP. A cautious selection of the telecommunication VoIP equipment has to be made should you decide that the PC-microphone-headphones combination is not functional. As a matter of fact we have been conditioned to telephone conversation rather than making use of microphones connected to our PC. The devices will definitely have to support SIP and H.323 protocols. In case you opt to use a “restrictive” VoIP provider, like the Skype for example, it is of great importance that you check out whether the device you have bought supports it. Analog Terminal Adapters [ATA] call for the purchase of the models suggested by the provider you have subscribed with. You will have to check though, whether they are “locked” for exclusive use with the specific provider. Depending on the model, utilization of a great number of services offered by different VoIP networks is allowed.