There are several ways to access VoIP telephony in your home or office, and the hardware you will need depends on which way you plan to connect.
If you wish to use VoIP with your existing telephone handset, you will need an ATA (Analogue Telephone Adaptor). If you wish to bypass your traditional phone, you will need a dedicated VoIP handset and if you want to communicate via your PC, then you will need some software, a broadband modem and a headset.
Using VoIP with an analogue phone
If you still have a traditional landline phone at your home or office and wish to use VoIP for your interstate or international phone calls, then you will need an ATA (Analogue Telephone Adaptor).
An ATA is a box that connects to your modem and has a socket into which you can plug your traditional telephone handset. When you make a call, the ATA communicates with your provider’s VoIP server and encodes and decodes the voice signal using a voice codec. ATAs are inexpensive to buy and are an easy way to connect to VoIP via an analogue handset.
Another option for using VoIP with a traditional handset is to buy a broadband modem with VoIP capabilities, as effectively these have a built in ATA. This will allow you to plug your analogue handset directly into the modem, thus doing away with the need for a separate ATA.
Using VoIP with a VoIP handset
Another way to access VoIP telephony is via a dedicated VoIP telephone. This is a specialised phone that looks just like a normal phone, but has an ethernet connection instead of a standard phone connection. It plugs directly into your modem and contains all the necessary hardware and software to convert speech into a data stream and transmit it over your broadband connection.
Using VoIP with a PC
The third main way to use VoIP in your home or office is via your desktop PC. This
involves installing a softphone, which is telephony software that provides an interface on your PC that allows you to connect via VoIP. Many PC-to-PC users subscribe to services such as Skype, which are free and give you the option of video calls as well.
The hardware you will need for PC-to-PC calls includes a broadband modem and a headset that contains a microphone to transmit your voice, plus earphones to hear incoming audio. If you wish to make video calls, you will also need a webcam, which is a small camera that sits on your monitor.