VoIP vs. Cellular vs. Landlines: Pros and Cons and How VoIP Works

Russell Kidson
Mar 25, 2023
Updated • Mar 24, 2023
Hardware, Misc

People who are 30 years old or older may remember the initial advertisements for MagicJack, which pledged to eradicate telephone bills with a small gadget that can be inserted into a USB port on a computer that has an internet connection. 

This gadget allowed users to place phone calls to any place in the world for a fee of just $19.95 per month. The technology that powered this device was a VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) service, which is now prevalent in today's world. Making VoIP calls is not complicated, and we can provide guidance on how to do so. 

With that in mind, in this article, we will cover what VoIP is, how it operates, and how it compares to conventional phone networks.

What is VoIP?

Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) is a software technology that enables users to make phone calls over the internet. Many individuals are already familiar with this technology as it is utilized in various popular applications such as Discord, Facebook Messenger, and WhatsApp, among others. VoIP allows users to make calls through an internet connection instead of a phone line. Most apps that offer this functionality use VoIP technology.

What is not commonly known is that VoIP can also be utilized to call physical phone numbers. The technology has the capacity to convert a digital voice signal into a telephone signal, making it compatible with traditional phone networks. Examples of this in action include Skype, Google Voice, and other comparable services. As previously mentioned, the MagicJack device is another excellent illustration of this technology.

The challenge in explaining VoIP lies in the fact that it is a broad term that encompasses various scenarios of utilizing the internet to place a voice call. Although there are many other terms used to describe making calls over the internet, VoIP is the overarching term that encompasses them all. Essentially, if you are using an internet connection to make a voice call to another person, you are utilizing VoIP technology.

Before we proceed, there is one last topic that we need to address, which is video communication. While it is commonly acknowledged that VoIP technology can be used for both audio and video communication, in practice, when people refer to VoIP, they are typically referring to voice calls.

How VoIP works

VoIP technology is a process that involves various steps that work together to transmit voice or video calls over the internet. To initiate a call, you speak into a microphone, and your digital device captures your voice. The device then encodes your voice into a codec, which is a digital format that can be transmitted over the internet.

The encoded signal is then transmitted over the internet to the other person's device. The other device then decodes the signal and plays your voice or video for the other person. If either party is using a regular telephone or cellular line, an extra step is needed to convert the telephone signal into a digital signal, or vice versa.

All of these steps occur quickly enough that they essentially work in real-time. However, there may be a slight delay, which can be noticed during a test call with someone in the same room. This delay occurs due to the time needed for all the steps above to happen before the voice or video plays on the other person's device. In the case of video, the same process occurs, but video cannot be converted into a telephone signal.

VoIP compared to cellular and landline networks

There are several advantages to utilizing VoIP technology:

  1. Versatility: VoIP can be used on any device that has an internet connection, including smartphones, tablets, laptops, and personal computers. Since Wi-Fi is widespread, VoIP is accessible nearly everywhere, making it a convenient option.
  2. Cost-effective: VoIP is often free for data-to-data calls between individuals, making it a cost-effective option for both personal and business use. In business settings, it is often more cost-effective than traditional phone lines or cell phones. Additionally, many apps that offer free phone calls use VoIP technology.
  3. Multiple Numbers: VoIP services make it easy to obtain multiple phone numbers, allowing users to keep their personal and work lives separate. It is often the first choice for burner phone numbers.
  4. Stability and Quality: As long as the internet connection is stable, VoIP calls are usually reliable with high-quality audio and video. The transition from a data signal to a phone signal is typically seamless.

While VoIP technology offers several benefits, there are some limitations to keep in mind:

  1. Emergency Services: VoIP calls to emergency services can be problematic as the phone service may not be able to determine the caller's location accurately. This can delay emergency response times and potentially be life-threatening.
  2. Internet Connection: VoIP relies on a stable internet connection for quality calls. Issues like jitter, interference, and latency can cause unstable calls, which can be caused by various factors.
  3. Power Outages: VoIP requires a power source, which means it will not work during power outages unless there is a backup power supply.
  4. Multiple Apps: VoIP calls are usually made through specific apps that are not compatible with one another. Therefore, you may need to install multiple apps if you want to communicate with people who are using different apps. For example, Skype users can only call other Skype users or pay to call a phone number, but they cannot call people on other platforms like Discord or WhatsApp.

Cellular technology also offers several advantages:

  1. Convenience: Cellular technology is extremely convenient as it works nearly everywhere, as long as there is a phone tower in the vicinity. This makes it a reliable option for staying connected while on the go, and it is particularly useful in emergency situations where a landline may not be available.
  2. No Long-Distance Charges: With cellular technology, there are no long-distance charges. You can make calls to almost anyone regardless of their location without incurring any additional charges.
  3. Data Connection: Modern cell phones, especially smartphones, come with a data connection, which allows users to access VoIP services alongside cellular calls.
  4. Society Built around Cell Phones: The modern world is built around using cell phones. Modern vehicles have built-in wired or wireless phone charging, and hands-free phone calls can be made while driving. Many businesses offer charging stations and local Wi-Fi networks, making it easy for people to stay connected while on the go. We live in a society where cell phones are ubiquitous and widely accepted.

While cellular technology has many benefits, there are also several drawbacks:

  1. Susceptible to Power Outages: Cell towers require power to operate, and massive power outages can render cell phones useless.
  2. Distractions While Driving: Cell phones are a significant source of distraction while driving, which can be dangerous and pose a safety hazard.
  3. Expensive Monthly Plans: Cellular plans are often more expensive than landlines or VoIP services, which can be a financial burden for some users.
  4. Degrading Signal Quality: The voice and call quality of cellular technology degrade as signal strength weakens. This can result in poor call quality or dropped calls, particularly in areas with weak or inconsistent signal strength.

Landlines offer several benefits:

  1. Power Outage Resilience: Corded landlines are generally immune to power outages and natural disasters, making them a reliable form of communication during emergencies.
  2. Stability: Corded landlines are considered to be the most stable form of communication due to the infrastructure in place. The lines are typically buried underground and use a different system than cellular or VoIP services. This makes them less susceptible to interference or disruptions.
  3. Clear Voice Quality: The stable infrastructure of landlines results in clearer voice quality, making conversations easier to understand and less prone to distortion.

Despite their benefits, landlines also have some limitations:

  1. Lack of Convenience: Landlines are not as convenient as other forms of communication, as they are typically limited to use in one location. Additionally, if you use a corded phone, you must stay near the phone while on the call.
  2. Long-Distance Charges: Many landline providers still charge extra for long-distance phone calls, which is not the case for VoIP or cellular plans.
  3. Additional Fees for Features: Some landline providers charge extra fees for features like caller ID, or require additional equipment to use them, which can increase the overall cost of the service.


There are various communication technologies available today, including VoIP, cellular, and landlines. Each of these technologies has its own set of advantages and limitations. VoIP is versatile, cost-effective, and accessible from any device with an internet connection, but requires a stable internet connection to work well. Cellular technology is convenient and widely accepted, but can be costly and may experience signal quality issues. Landlines offer a stable and reliable form of communication, but lack convenience and may incur additional charges for features.

When selecting a communication technology, it's important to consider your specific needs, such as convenience, reliability, and cost-effectiveness. Ultimately, the best choice depends on individual circumstances and priorities.


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  1. Seeprime said on September 8, 2023 at 4:12 pm

    Missing from the “story”: Ukraine’s agreement to never use Starlink for military purposes. This is why.

    Ghacks quality is AI driven and very poor these days since AI is really artificial stupidity.

    1. Karl said on September 12, 2023 at 9:10 pm

      “Elon Musk biographer Walter Isaacson forced to ‘clarify’ book’s account of Starlink incident in Ukraine War

      “To clarify on the Starlink issue: the Ukrainians THOUGHT coverage was enabled all the way to Crimea, but it was not. They asked Musk to enable it for their drone sub attack on the Russian fleet. Musk did not enable it, because he thought, probably correctly, that would cause a major war.”

      1. Karl said on September 14, 2023 at 5:58 pm

        I posted above comment to:

        Not to the following article about Geforce where I currently also can see it published:

  2. Anonymous said on September 11, 2023 at 10:09 pm

    Well, using Brave, I can see Llama 2 being decent, but it is still not great?
    All these AI stuff seems more like a ‘toy’ than anything special, I mean, it is good for some stuff like translations or asking quick questions but not for asking anything important.

    The problem is Brave made it mostly for summarizing websites and all that, but all these Big tech controlled stuff, won’t summarize articles it doesn’t agree with, so it is also useless in many situations where you just want it to give you a quick summarization, and then it starts throwing you little ‘speeches’ about how it doesn’t agree with it and then it never summarizes anything, but give you all the 30 paragraphs reasons why the article is wrong, like if I am asking it what it thinks.

    SO all this AI is mostly a toy, but Facebook with all the power they have will be able to get so much data from people, it can ‘train’ or better say, write algorithms that will get better with time.

    But It is not intelligence, it is really not intelligence all these AI technology.

  3. Tom Hawack said on September 14, 2023 at 2:11 pm

    Article Title: Tech leaders meet to discuss regulation of AI
    Article URL: [https://www.ghacks.net/2023/09/14/artificial-intelligence-regulation-tech-leaders/]

    The eternal problematic of regulating, here applied to AI. Should regulations (interventionism) have interfered in the course of mankind ever since Adam and Eve where would we be now? Should spirituality, morality, ethics never have interfered where would we be now? I truly have always believed that the only possible consensus between ethics and freedom is that of individuals’ own consciousness.

    Off-topic : Musk’s beard looks like a wound, AI-Human hand-shake is a quite nice pic :)

    1. Karl said on September 14, 2023 at 5:55 pm

      Haha, oh dear, Tom.
      I thought that the comments system issue where comments shows up under a totally different article was fixed. But seeing your comment here, the “error” is clearly still active. Hopefully it is sorted as soon as possible.

      1. Tom Hawack said on September 14, 2023 at 6:40 pm

        Article Title: Tech leaders meet to discuss regulation of AI
        Article URL: [https://www.ghacks.net/2023/09/14/artificial-intelligence-regulation-tech-leaders/]

        Hi Karl :) Well, let’s remain positive and see the good sides : one’s comment appearing within different articles (the one it was written form and for, another unrelated one) brings ubiquity to that comment : say it once and it’s published twice, double your pleasure and double your fun (“with double-mint, double-mint gum” and old ad!). Let’s forget the complications and inherited misunderstandings it leads to. Not sure the fun is worth the complications though. Which is why, with a few others here, I include Article Title & URL with comment, to ease a bit the pain.

        This said, I’m trying to find a logic key which would explain the mic-mac. One thing is sure : comments appearing twice keep the same comment number.

        For instance my comment to which you replied just above is originally :


        It then got duplicated to :


        Same comment number, which let’s me imagine comments are defined by their number as before but now dissociated in a way from their full path : that’s where something is broken, as i see it.

        First amused me, then bothered, annoyed (I took some holidays to lower the pressure), then triggered curiosity.
        I’m putting our best detectives on the affair, stay tuned.

      2. Karl said on September 16, 2023 at 8:58 am

        Hehe, yes indeed, staying positive is what we should do. Good comes for those who wait, as the old saying goes. Hopefully true for this as well.

        Interesting that the comments number stays the same, I noted that one thing is added to the duplicated comment in the URL, an error code, the following: “error-code-0x0003”.

        Not useful for us, but hopefully for the developers (if there are any?), that perhaps will be able to sort this comments error out. Or our detectives, I hope they work hard on this as we speak ;).

        Cheers and have a great weekend!

      3. Karl said on September 16, 2023 at 9:18 am

        Whoops, my bad. I just now realized that the error I saw in your example URL (error-code-0x0003) was part of the linked article title and generated by Geforce! Oh dear! Why did I try to make it more confusing than it already is lol!

        Original comment:


      4. Tom Hawack said on September 16, 2023 at 9:20 am

        Article Title: Tech leaders meet to discuss regulation of AI
        Article URL: [https://www.ghacks.net/2023/09/14/artificial-intelligence-regulation-tech-leaders/]

        @Karl, you write,

        “I noted that one thing is added to the duplicated comment in the URL, an error code, the following: “error-code-0x0003”.”

        I haven’t noticed that up to now but indeed brings an element to those who are actually trying to resolve the issue.
        I do hope that Softonic engineers are working on fixing this issue, which may be more complicated than we can imagine. Anything to do with databases can become a nightmare, especially when the database remains accessed while being repaired, so to say.

        P.S. My comment about remaining positive was, in this context, sarcastic. Your literal interpretation could mean you are, factually, more inclined to positiveness than I am myself : maybe a lesson of life for me :)

        Have a nice, happy, sunny weekend as well :)

      5. 💾 said on September 16, 2023 at 12:35 pm

        Correct: AI is certainly overhyped, it’s also advertised by some shady individuals. It’s can also be misused to write poor quality articles or fake your homework.


        16 September 2023, this website is still experiencing issues with posts erroneously appearing in the wrong threads. There are even duplicates of the exact same post ID within the same page in some places.

      6. 💾 said on September 16, 2023 at 8:41 pm

        Clerical error “[It] can also be misused …” you just can’t get the staff nowadays.

        Obviously [#comment-4573795] was originally posted within [/2023/09/14/artificial-intelligence-regulation-tech-leaders/]. However, it has appeared misplaced within several threads.

        Including the following:

  4. Anonymous said on September 14, 2023 at 3:39 pm

    “How much radiation is dangerous?
    Ionizing radiation, such as X-rays and gamma rays, is more energetic and potentially harmful. Exposure to doses greater than 1,000 millisieverts (mSv) in a short period can increase the risk of immediate health effects.
    Above about 100 mSv, the risk of long-term health effects, such as cancer, increases with the dose.”

    This ban is about NON-ionizing radiation limits, because there is too much radio wave power from the iphone. This has nothing to do with the much more dangerous ionizing radiations like X-rays, that are obviously not emitted at all by mobile phones. I invite you to correct your article.

  5. Anonymous said on September 17, 2023 at 5:03 pm

    “Aaro.mil makes history as the first official UFO website”

    I wonder if it’s just smelly crowdsourcing for the spotting of chinese balloons or whatever paranoia they’re trying to instigate, or if they are also intentionally trying to look stupid enough to look for alien spaceships, for whatever reason. Maybe trying to look cute, instead of among the worst butchers of history ?

  6. Anonymous said on September 17, 2023 at 9:12 pm

    “The tech titan’s defense”
    “Whether he provides a clear explanation or justifies his actions”
    “the moral compass”

    You take it for granted that this company should agree being a military communications provider on a war zone, and so directly so that his network would be used to control armed drones charged with explosives rushing to their targets.

    You don’t need to repeat here everything you read in the mainstream press without thinking twice about it. You’re not just pointing interestingly that his company is more involved in the war that one may think at first and that this power is worrying, you’re also declaring your own support for a side in an imperialist killfest, blaming him for not participating enough in the bloodshed.

    Now your article is unclear on how this company could be aware that its network is used for such military actions at a given time, which has implications of its own.

    Reading other sources on that quickly, it seems that the company was: explicitly asked ; to extend its network geographically ; for a military attack ; at a time when there was no war but with the purpose of triggering it, if I understood well. You have to be joking if you’re crying about that not happening at that time. But today you have your war, be happy.

  7. Anonymous said on September 30, 2023 at 1:21 am

    comments and article dont match

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