Will Claney, Tech Talk

VoIP a huge advancement in phone calls – and it’s free

VoIP a huge advancement in phone calls – and it’s free

Will Claney, Tech TalkCONTRA COSTA COUNTY, CA (July 17, 2022) — Verizon made the slogan “Can you hear me now?” a household refrain and introduced a new normal in phone standards and practices.

Alexander Graham Bell, the Scottish-born inventor of the phone, may have asked the same question as Verizon representative Paul Marcarelli did in his iconic commercial. Since Bell’s invention in 1885, not a lot had changed in POTS until recently.

But now, in just a few short years, voice technology has undergone an amazing transformation from POTS (plain-old telephone service) and cell phones to the latest standard known as VoIP (voice over internet protocol).

When I was a child, my parents had a party line, where several families used the same line to make calls. Really, everyone at once on the same line. And phone numbers that started with names. Do you remember your old number? Mine was Fairview 30903.

Since then, dials with clicks were replaced with buttons with tones. Bottom line, still the same invention as Bell’s – with just more phone lines to manage and better ways to connect.

Cell phones

Fast forward to 1973 and the first cell phone. I had one. Funny thing, it was a party line and I had to tell the operator what number I wanted. Progress and innovation really didn’t start until the early ’90s, when the smartphone was introduced. That innovation was the union of the phone and the computer.

The point is that the most progress was in the last 20 years and, in my opinion, Bell would be proud his creation sparked a generation of innovation.

Now we have VoIP, which means we can convert voice phone calls (analog) into ones and zeros (digital) and send the whole thing over the internet. In the last 10 years, all sorts of VoIP providers have capitalized on this innovation, including Ooma, Vonage and RingCentral.

Enter Google Voice. Not only can you send voice over the internet, now one does not even need special equipment. Your computer and Google’s website control it all.

To make the app work, one simply needs an internet-enabled computer, a cell phone or POTS phone number (if you want to use an existing number) and a headset. Personal calling is free, and business calling starts at $10/month. The most expensive plan with unlimited international calling is $30/month.

Imagine this: You are sitting at your desk and need to call a friend. Click the web page, click the “contacts” icon and everything is pretty much the same from there. When receiving a call, just click and answer.

If you need help setting this up or require further information, call your local computer expert.

 Email questions or comments to willclaney@gmail.com.

Will Claney
Will Claney

William Claney is an independent tech writer and former owner of Computers USA in the Clayton Station. Email questions or comments to willclaney@gmail.com.