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In the European Union, the treatment of VoIP service providers is a decision for each national telecommunications regulator, which must use competition law to define relevant national markets and then determine whether any service provider on those national markets has "significant market power" (and so should be subject to certain obligations). A general distinction is usually made between VoIP services that function over managed networks (via broadband connections) and VoIP services that function over unmanaged networks (essentially, the Internet).
Such emergency services are provided by VoIP vendors in the United States by a system called Enhanced 911 (E911), based on the Wireless Communications and Public Safety Act of 1999. The VoIP E911 emergency-calling system associates a physical address with the calling party's telephone number. All VoIP providers that provide access to the public switched telephone network are required to implement E911, a service for which the subscriber may be charged. "VoIP providers may not allow customers to "opt-out" of 911 service."
VoIP has drastically reduced the cost of communication by sharing network infrastructure between data and voice. A single broad-band connection has the ability to transmit more than one telephone call. Secure calls using standardized protocols, such as Secure Real-time Transport Protocol, as most of the facilities of creating a secure telephone connection over traditional phone lines, such as digitizing and digital transmission, are already in place with VoIP. It is necessary only to encrypt and authenticate the existing data stream. Automated software, such as a virtual PBX, may eliminate the need of personnel to greet and switch incoming calls.
That situation is for fairly pristine network and business conditions, however. Companies with legacy equipment or unique business needs may need a hybrid PBX, in which a portion of the voice network remains in the analog world, while the rest is converted to cloud-based VoIP. This could happen if you occupy an older building without the necessary Ethernet infrastructure to support VoIP or if you had custom software built a long time ago that simply isn't compatible with newer phone technologies.
It is much cheaper than a regular landline - most providers offer unlimited calling plans (including long distance) in the USA and Canada for under $10 per month. There are also some great promotional deals available such as 2 year specials that cost around $6 per month (includes all your calling). Comparing this to a regular PSTN (landline) phone service that can cost in the region of $60 per month can result in savings of over $500 per year for many home phone users. If you also regularly call International numbers you can save even more, with rates typically starting from around 1 to 2 cents per minute to many countries.