The 2020s have been a decade of accelerated change when it comes to communication – there has been widespread adoption of digital technologies that have added to the options available for home use. Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) is one of those technologies that has revolutionised the way we communicate. It allows you to make phone calls over the internet instead of using traditional phone lines. This is on the minds of many businesses and individuals in the UK at the moment, with the upcoming PSTN switch off.
Setting up a VoIP phone at home is easy and can save you money on your phone bill. In this article, we will guide you through the steps to set up a VoIP phone at home.
Step 1: Choose a VoIP Provider
The first step in setting up a VoIP phone at home is to choose a VoIP provider. There are many VoIP providers available, so you need to choose one that suits your needs. Look for a provider that offers the features you need, such as call forwarding, voicemail, and caller ID. You may also want to research providers in terms of their customer experience offering – do they have good reviews? Are their systems robust and of a high quality? It’s not just about the features, it’s about the whole experience.
Step 2: Check your internet connection
Before you set up a VoIP phone at home, you need to ensure that your internet connection is fast and stable enough to support it. A VoIP phone relies on your internet connection to make and receive calls, so a slow or unstable connection can cause problems. A reliable and high-speed broadband internet connection, such as cable or fibre optic, is recommended for optimal performance and call quality. To ensure that the home VoIP system runs smoothly, the internet connection should have a minimum upload and download speed of at least 1 Mbps. However, for better call quality and a smoother overall experience, a faster internet connection is recommended, with at least 5 Mbps for both upload and download speeds.
Step 3: Purchase a VoIP phone or adapter
You can use a traditional phone with a VoIP adapter or purchase a VoIP phone specifically designed for use with a VoIP service. A VoIP adapter connects to your router and allows you to use a traditional phone to make and receive VoIP calls – not only that, but adapters can allow more than one device to connect at the same time. Alternatively, you can purchase a VoIP phone that connects directly to your router and does not require an adapter. In terms of phones, you can go for super high end tech – touchscreen display, HD audio, and advanced features like video conferencing, a web browser, and integration with popular business applications, or you can take a look at lesser offerings that are more cost effective – with monochrome displays, for instance. It all depends on what you need.
Step 4: Connect the VoIP phone or adapter
Once you have your VoIP phone or adapter, connect it to your router using an Ethernet cable. If you are using an adapter, connect your traditional phone to the adapter. Make sure that the adapter or phone is powered on and connected to the internet. For VoIP usage, the best Ethernet cables to use are Category 5e (Cat5e) or Category 6 (Cat6) cable. Both Cat5e and Cat6 cables are capable of delivering the fast and reliable data transfer speeds required for VoIP, with Cat6 being slightly faster and capable of longer cable runs.
Step 5: Configure the VoIP phone or adapter
The next step is to configure your VoIP phone or adapter. Your VoIP provider will provide you with the necessary information to set up your phone or adapter. This will include your SIP username and password, server address, and other settings. To configure your phone or adapter, log in to your account on your VoIP provider’s website and follow the instructions provided. This will typically involve entering your SIP username and password and configuring your phone or adapter’s settings.
Step 6: Test your VoIP phone
Once you have configured your VoIP phone or adapter, test it to ensure that it is working correctly. Make a test call to a friend or family member and ask them to confirm that they can hear you clearly. If you encounter any problems, check your internet connection, phone or adapter settings, and contact your VoIP provider for assistance. If anything explodes, make sure you have a spare phone so you can call the fire brigade – just kidding, this is unlikely to happen. The most you’ll experience (if you’re unlucky) are some teething issues getting the wiring set up properly and the login details correct. However, if you have a good provider, they will guide you through the process so it’s as pain free as possible.
Step 7: Set up additional features
Most VoIP providers offer additional features, such as call forwarding, voicemail, and caller ID. Set up these features in your VoIP provider’s account portal to take advantage of them. You can also configure your phone or adapter’s settings to customise your VoIP experience further. Obviously depending on the adapter or phone you’ve chosen, these settings will vary wildly – hence not going into specifics here in this section. You can also add a softphone to your laptop or mobile device: a softphone is a software application that enables users to make and receive phone calls over the internet using a computer, smartphone, or tablet. It basically functions as a virtual telephone by simulating the features and capabilities of a traditional telephone. You’ll usually require a headset or microphone and speaker setup to use a softphone, however many modern devices can operate ‘as is’.
Well, that’s it! Setting up a VoIP phone at home is easy and can save you money on your phone bill – as well as unlocking the potential of higher quality calls (and a plethora of other benefits we’ve already touched upon). Choose a VoIP provider that offers the features you need – in terms of landline replacement, they can help you get set up for years to come.