What Is a VoIP Adapter and Why Do I Need It?

voip adapter

Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) adapters are one of the hottest selling technology items today. As consumers and businesses move from traditional telephone service to VoIP, they have questions regarding VoIP technology, equipment, and solutions. Two of the most frequently asked questions are “What is a VoIP adapter and why do I need it?” Let’s uncover the answers.

What Is A VoIP Adapter?

A VoIP adapter (also called an Analog Terminal Adapter) is a device used to convert analog voice signals to digital internet protocol (IP) voice packets for transmission from the speaker to the receiver over IP networks. Additionally, VoIP adapters are capable of the opposite conversion – digital IP voice packets into analog voice signals.

You simply connect a VoIP adapter to an analog telephone through its FXS port, and on the other end you connect it to your Local Area Network (LAN) via an RJ-45 port and Ethernet cable or via an FXO port to PSTN connection. VoIP adapters are affordable, ranging in price from $20 to $100.

A What and a What?

While VoIP adapters are simple to use and affordable, you do need to know the terms and understand the connections. Let’s define some of the terms listed above for easy reference and alleviate any confusion.

  • FXS Port – the interface connecting the station (actual phones or Private Branch Exchange (PBX)(private telephone network) to your VoIP adapter

  • RJ-45 Port – the interface connecting via ethernet your LAN to your VoIP adapter

  • FXO Port – the interface connecting the PSTN lines (also called POTS or Plain Old Telephone Service) to your VoIP adapter

  • PSTN – public switched telephone network (utilized by traditional telephone services)

Obviously, the number of lines and phones you need to connect will determine how many ports you will need to connect a VoIP adapter.

And I Need this Because…

VoIP adapters increase your cost savings with VoIP service. The adapter converts traditional telephone signals to digital signals that then can be transmitted via the Internet. Adapters are more affordable than purchasing all new hardware as you transition to VoIP (you can always add new IP phones later).  Plus, adapters featuring FXO ports keep their lines active when your Internet connection is not available.

How Does All This Work?

Simply stated, a VoIP adapter serves as the connection between your IP network and your analog devices (phones) or your PSTN. The VoIP adapter converts voice signals – analog to digital or vice versa – as needed between the sender and the destination enabling you to communicate effectively as you complete the transition to VoIP.


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