Dear Amy: How do phone calls made over the Internet work? — Sara, New Haven, Conn.
Dear Sara: Voice over Internet Protocol, or VoIP, is a technology that allows people to make phone calls using their Internet connection instead of a phone line. To use VoIP, you might need a VoIP phone, phone adapter, or special software and a microphone for your computer. All the methods for making a VoIP call work in basically the same way. Your voice is converted from sound waves to digital information that can be transferred over the Internet. When your friend answers the phone, your voice is converted back into sound. Most cell phones actually do this, too, but the digital information is sent using radio waves instead of an Internet connection. To learn more about VoIP, visit http://transition.fcc.gov/voip.
There are many different VoIP providers available. Google Voice, www.google.com/voice, has many cool features and charges only for international calls. Skype, www.skype.com, is another popular choice that allows you to call or video-chat with other users for free. Be sure to get a parent's permission before signing up for any of these services.
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