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Five reasons you should make the switch to VOIP!

Let's be realistic: the number of people who still use their landline telephone has dropped markedly as cell phones changed the face of telecommunications for good.

Still, a great many of us keep the landline just the same ? for simple convenience, safe in the knowledge we have a number that's ours that won't change as long as we don't tamper with it.

But guess what? The rapid emergence of fibre internet in homes and businesses throughout South Africa is rendering the old-school Telkom landline obsolete.

A dedicated phone operated over a fast internet connection makes just as much sense, and performs the same function as an ordinary landline. You can even keep your number the same. The only difference? It plugs in to your router via an Ethernet cable, or connects to a WiFi hotspot.

This system is called Voice-Over-IP, and it's been available to consumers for over a decade. But now, thanks to superfast fibre, it's a no-brainer.

Here are five reasons to make the change.

Anyone can make the switch

Voice-Over-IP works for anyone with an internet connection. All you need to do, says Dave Gale of Frogfoot Networks, is identify an ISP that offers the service. "From there, you'll pay a rental fee and a charge for your internet-enabled phone, though many companies will throw in the phone free of charge."

Frogfoot is involved in the deployment of fibre-optic cable throughout South Africa, bringing high-speed internet to businesses and homes. According to Gale, Voice-Over-IP works for anyone with a broadband connection, but it's best suited to fibre. "Back in the old days, when telecoms companies first began selling VOIP, ADSL speeds struggled to deliver you a good call. But now, on fibre, you'll find that the extra bandwidth makes it a dream."

You can keep your number

"The number one reason people stick with their landline is because they think they'll lose their telephone number," says Gale. "But that's false."

In reality, Telkom doesn't own your 10 digit home number. Instead, it's borrowed from the telecoms regulator. As a result, Telkom is obliged to transfer your number to the telecommunications company of your choosing, and since almost all Internet Service Providers offer VOIP, you can shop around for the best deal.

That means saving yourself time and hassle while you say goodbye to that monthly Telkom bill in your post box.

More choice equals more power

With a level playing field and a competitive market, you've got the option of shopping around for the deal that suits you best.

That means you can save a lot of money in the process.

"Competition is healthy in any industry," says Gale, "and the widespread adoption of fibre in South Africa has given rise to another layer of industry. In the end, the consumer wins."

It's hassle-free

Internet "landline" telephones can either operate over WiFi or be plugged into a router via Ethernet cable.

Installation is quick and painless, and if you're on fibre, you'll experience hardly any lag whatsoever.

If, however, you're still on ADSL, Gale preaches caution. "Calls over ADSL can be affected by the number of users on the network, which can reduce the quality of the call. It'll still work, but the quality will be unpredictable."

The calls sound better

This might not be a biggie, but if you're racking up an exorbitant phone bill making conference calls overseas, you'll be glad to know that VOIP tethered to a fibre connection will deliver crisp, clear sound.

"Ever heard of a term called a telephone voice?" asks Gale. "Ordinary landline calls are limited to 8kHz. With fibre, you can theoretically get HiFi quality voice calls. VoIP can now deliver crisp, clear, quality sound."

So there you have it. If you're stuck with a landline you don't need or use, there's an alternative available. Many businesses and home-owners in South Africa are making the transition already.

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