The days of landlines are pretty much behind us. With the rise of cell phones over the past couple of decades, the old way of plugging a phone into a jack in the wall to have your call routed through a physical system of wires is becoming a relic of the past. Cell phones, which transmit data over radio frequencies free from wires and cords, have overtaken landlines in a relatively short time.

With the rise of high-speed internet, telecommunication is evolving even further. Another alternative to the traditional landline and the cell phone is a phone that connects parties over the internet. It’s commonly known as VoIP — voice over internet protocol — and it’s becoming a good option for many people and businesses.

But first, what is VoIP? How do you know if you need an internet phone plan? Let’s take a look at what this technology is and see if it’s right for you.

What is VoIP?

VoIP is a technology that enables voice communication over the internet. Instead of using traditional phone lines, VoIP uses your internet connection and the cloud to transmit voice and data, allowing you to make calls, send messages and even conduct video conferences.

You may have already used the internet for some calls through popular services like Zoom, WhatsApp, Skype, Nextiva or Ring Central. VoIP allows you to use a phone number and experience a traditional phone call, albeit over the internet and often with a slate of nifty features. You can use VoIP with your computer or your cell phone, as long as you have an internet connection.

Should I switch to a VoIP phone plan?

Maybe you still have a landline. Maybe you realized at some point that you don’t need one anymore, because your cell phone is more than enough. Is VoIP going to overtake cell technology? Should you switch? It’s a lot to think about, so let’s break it down a bit.

Advantages of VoIP

Cost Savings: One of the most compelling reasons to switch to a VoIP plan is the potential for significant cost savings. Internet phone plans are often more affordable than traditional cell phone plans, especially for international or long-distance calls. According to some sources, switching to VoIP can save you up to 50% on your phone bill. Additionally, many VoIP services offer competitive pricing and free calls to other users on the same network.

Flexibility: Internet phone plans are highly flexible. You can use your VoIP service on various devices, including your smartphone, tablet or computer. This flexibility allows you to stay connected from virtually anywhere with an internet connection. You can even take your number with you when you travel, avoiding expensive roaming charges.

Feature-rich: Internet phone plans typically come with a host of features that can enhance your communication experience. These features may include call forwarding, voicemail, call recording and video conferencing, among others. Many VoIP providers also offer integrations with other apps and services, adding more functionality to your plan.

Good for business: If you run a small business or manage a company’s IT, you may be interested in an internet phone plan as a scalable option that allows you to add and remove phone lines. VoIP services give your employees their own numbers and voice mailboxes – an ideal solution for a remote workforce. Plus, a VoIP plan that comes with videoconferencing and other features means all your company communication is in one place and keeps everyone connected throughout the workday. And it tends to be more cost-effective, especially if you can bundle your phone service with your internet service provider costs.

Disadvantages of VoIP

Reliability: Internet phone plans are dependent on your internet connection. If your internet service is unreliable or goes down, your ability to make and receive calls may be affected. If you rely heavily on cellular data for internet connectivity or use your mobile hotspot to connect to the internet outside the home, then a VoIP plan may be too limited for you.

Emergency calls: VoIP services may not always provide accurate location information to emergency services, making it less reliable for 911 calls.

Audio quality: While internet phone calls have improved over the years, the audio quality may still not be as consistent or clear as traditional phone calls, especially if you have a slow or congested internet connection.

Learning curve: For some users, especially those who are not tech-savvy, setting up and using an internet phone plan may have a steeper learning curve compared to traditional phones. If you port in your landline number or need to download software or an app, you could find yourself in need of an assistant to help you get set up and acclimated.

VoIP is good choice if you have fast, reliable internet

As internet technology continues to advance, VoIP phone plans may become more commonplace. For the time being, VoIP is ideal for people whose internet is reliable and fast. If you have high-speed fiber internet, VoIP may be a good option if you want to save money by eliminating an expensive cellular plan. Individuals who talk to family and friends outside the country on a regular basis would also benefit from the savings and convenience of a VoIP plan. You can opt for a new number, or you can use your existing phone number, so you don’t even need to update your contacts if you don’t want to.

Businesses, especially those with a remote workforce, would do well with an internet phone plan over a landline system or relying on employees to use their personal phones. Ziply Fiber’s Hosted Voice plans come with scalable features like group chat, video conferencing, status messages, extensions, voicemail and more.

If cost savings, flexibility and feature-rich communication are your top priorities, an internet phone plan may be a fantastic choice. However, if you require a high level of reliability for emergency calls or if you live in an area with subpar internet connectivity, you may want to weigh the disadvantages more heavily.

The decision to switch to an internet phone plan ultimately depends on your individual needs and circumstances and how ready and willing you are to change from your current technology. Change can be daunting, especially when the new technology hasn’t become fully mainstream. No one wants to be stuck without communication because of some glitch or problem, so you might be interested in trying out a VoIP system while phasing out your current phone plan rather than going cold turkey.

In any event, VoIP technology and plans are likely going to become more consistent and reliable. It may be that switching to VoIP from landlines and cellular technology is just a matter of time.