What Is the Difference Between VoIP & Landline?

By Corr S. Pondent

The traditional landline now has competition from sources such as VoIP.
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Thanks to changes in the telecommunications environment, the days when consumers who wanted phone service in their homes only had to decide which phone company to choose are gone. Nowadays, phone companies don't have such a hold on the market. Consumers also have choice in terms of the actual phone service delivery, rather than just the phone service provider. There are options such as VoIP, or Voice-over Internet Protocol. While VoIP use is growing, landlines are holding strong too.


A landline involves the use of a copper phone line to connect your home to the phone network. The different telephone companies, such as AT&T, have local networks that serve different cities and localities. When you place a call, it travels through your local network's digital switches to the public telephone network. Your call travels through this network to reach the number you call.


VoIP technology involves the conversion of analog voice calls into a digital format to relay over the Internet. In order to make use of VoIP, typically consumers need an adapter that will connect their phone line to an Internet modem. There are also phones designed specifically for VoIP use. Also, you will need an Internet connection, typically a broadband connection. Telephone companies have entered this market and are looking to route customer phone calls through the Internet.

Accessing 911

In deciding whether to choose between landline and VoIP, you should be aware of a difference in terms of placing emergency 911 calls. Emergency calls placed to 911 through a VoIP connection cannot always be traced. You will have to set up your system so that you allow your VoIP service provider to properly route your 911 calls. Also, VoIP phone service is typically down during a power outage. This will restrict your access to 911 calls too.

Costs and Benefits

VoIP use is growing and the costs are coming down. Considering that VoIP providers don't have the costs involved with maintaining a traditional phone network, and instead send signals through the Internet, their costs are considerably lower. This is a factor that influences the decision making for a lot of people who opt for VoIP over a traditional landline. However, disruptions in Internet service also impact VoIP availability. Also, VoIP call quality may not be consistently good.