Going in-depth with VoIP

VoIP (voice over Internet protocol) has significantly improved the way we communicate over the phone. It can unite many different locations into a single converged communications network, which is why it is so useful in many industries; not least, yachting. Yet despite this, not all yachts use VoIP services. What’s more, those which do use VoIP do not always have their services optimised for satellite connectivity, meaning they are not all working as efficiently as they could be.

Yet there are so many benefits for crew, managers and owners alike when VoIP is onboard. Below, we explore its benefits on a yacht when optimised for use with VSAT.

Why is VoIP better than traditional telephone communication methods such as POTS?

Before digital networking took off, everyone had to use POTS (Plain Old Telephone Service), which runs over the circuit-switched public telephone network. However, the costs related to this network are high, especially for those wishing to make calls between different countries. VoIP greatly reduces the price of using the phone, instead using the digital network to transmit voice between the devices.

How does it ensure I reach other countries at the price of a local call?

Using VoIP, owners, brokerage companies and managers can always reach the yacht at their “local” office number, bringing their business contacts virtually next door and so bringing costs down significantly. Crew can also call friends and family in another country for the price of a local call.

Furthermore, companies such as Netinsat can provide DIDs (Direct Inward Dial, often called Virtual Numbers) in over 70 countries, offering customers country codes which can otherwise be difficult to attain without proof of address proof.

Services like Skype can be used as an alternative for ringing abroad for a reasonable price, however it is important to note that Skype does not offer quite as large a choice of countries and country codes.

NB For countries like the UAE which block any VoIP service (as well as Skype and WhatsApp), Netinsat instead offers a VPN service to avoid the restriction.

VoIP Bandwidth usage graph

VoIP Bandwidth usage graph

Why is it important that my VoIP is optimised for satellite connectivity?

Satellites operate in geostationary orbits about 36.000km from the earth. This means there is always at least?a two second delay (one second to reach the satellite, one second to get back to the ground) in transmission.

Satellite delay isn’t supported by most software applications (such as ERP) as usually delay is measured in milliseconds, and so any delay measured in seconds causes a timeout error. This can mean that software doesn’t work as well as it should onboard. However, this is never a problem with VoIP, which is optimised to understand second delays.

Can VoIP work independently of my internet service providers?

On a yacht where connection can be spotty, it is important that the service can work with any type of internet access, including Wi-Fi, 3g/4g and VSAT. Satellite optimised VoIP allows users to make calls via any available connectivity.

Is it easy to use/ integrate into my vessel?

The VoIP service can be joined using any device that supports G.729A/B audio codec (or above). Supporting devices include cheap IP phones (eg Grandstream), apps (cSipSimple or Zoiper are free) on a smart phone, or a PBX/ATA (Analog Telephone Adapter) which connects to your existing analog phone.

Most of the time the same VoIP account will be configured on multiple devices (eg mobile phone and an IP phone), with the account set up to allow multiusers: an incoming call will ring on the mobile phone and the IP phone, and outgoing calls can be placed from any configured device.

Don’t miss another important call

The ability to make phone calls onboard is vital, whether it comes down to an owner forging an important business deal or a member of crew receiving news from a loved one. And when VSAT is the only available connectivity it is crucial to make the most of this. Satellite optimised VoIP such as that provided by Netinsat allows yachts to do this, meaning you’ll never miss another call.

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