5 Best VPNs for VoIP

15 May 2013 |

VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) is, as the name would suggest, a means of digitizing the human voice and sending over the internet. In effect this means telephony over the internet, and most VoIP services also include video telephony and text chat in their services as well.

While businesses often make use of dedicated IP Phones (wireless versions are also known as WiFi phones) and ATA (Analogue Telephone Adapters), home users  have adopted computer-to-computer VoIP as a cheap (typically free) and convenient way to keep in contact friends and family across the world.

Popular free VoIP providers

Skype

By far the most famous and popular VoIP service is Skype, which not only allows free voice, video and text chat between internet connected devices across the world, but also permits low cost computer-to-traditional landline and mobile phones calls. Skype enjoys full support on just about every platform available including mobile phones, which brings the possibility of free telephone calls to millions of users (of which there are approximately 600 million). We have an article dedicated to Skype, which can be found here.

Google Talk

Thanks largely to its integration into Gmail, Google Talk (also known as GTalk) has become massively popular. It offers many of the same features as Skype (although computer to phone charges are quite high relative to Skype). One potential problem is that GTalk is not officially supported on Apple devices (OSX and iOS), although plenty of third party solutions are available.

Vonage

Also offering similar features to Skype, but notable for being the first VoIP company to permit inclusive emergency calls (e.g. 911), Vonage has around 2.4 million subscribers and is available in the US, Canada and the UK.

FaceTime / iMessage

FaceTime is Apple’s videotelephony software, and is fully integrated into recent versions of iOS and OSX products (including full support in OSX’s new iChat replacement, the critically acclaimed iMessage).  Although a great service for chatting with other Apple users, FaceTime does not allow you to call landline and mobile phone numbers, and is not supported on non-Apple platforms such as Windows, Linux and Android.

Jitsi

Jitsi is a free and open source VoIP, chat and video conferencing application available for Windows, OSX and Linux. Mainly of interest to fans of open source software, Jitsi is a stable and fully featured platform that sports some nice tricks, such as noise suppression and echo cancellation.

VoIP using VPN

There are two main (and very good) reasons for using a VPN service with VoIP: for security and to bypass firewalls.

In theory the extra server load incurred through encrypting and decrypting the data packets, plus the extra hops needed as the signal goes through a VPN server before reaching its destination can slow down VoIP traffic, and therefore degrade the quality of service. In practice however, this is rarely the case. Modern processors make very quick work of the encryption/decryption process, and as long as you choose a fast VPN provider then you will find the impact minimal. To give you an idea of the connection speeds you will need, Skype offers the following guidelines:

Type of Call

Minimum
download / upload speed

Recommended
download / upload speed

VoIP

30kbs/30kbs

100kbs/100kbs

Video (low quality)

128kbs/128kbs

300kbs/300kbs

Video (high quality)

400kbs/400kbs

500kbs/500kbs

Video (HD)

1.2Mbs/1.2Mbs

1.5Mbs/1.5Mbs

 Security

Neither VoIP calls nor regular telephone calls are in any way secure, and an increasingly large number of criminals, commercial organizations and governments are keen to record and snoop on your phone conversations. Only this week (May 2013) the US Justice Department has admitted that it seized recordings of every phone call made by 100 Associated Press reporters during April and May 2012, in what AP have called a “massive and unprecedented intrusion” into the free running of the press. We have also run a series of blog articles on this website examining the way that governments have been working hard to spy on all citizens’ communications, including internet communications and telephone conversations.

Because VoIP works over the internet, encrypting your internet connection using a VPN service also encrypts your voice or video conversation, allowing you to talk to people without fear of being snooped on by your ISP or telephone provider. However, VoIP providers such as Skype do keep detailed records of communications, and are increasingly receiving requests from government agencies who want access to this data, most notable from  UK (1,268 requests to Microsoft relating to 2,720 Skype accounts in 2012) and US (1,154 requests regarding 4,184 accounts) authorities. Although Microsoft has stated that none of these requests resulted in disclosure of content, proposed legislation mean this situation may soon change.

One advantage of VPN however, is that it makes it easy to sign up to a free (and therefore requiring no credit card details) VoIP service anonymously, making tracking a conversation back to an individual user very difficult.

In addition to making government surveillance difficult, VPN also secures internet connections made using public WiFi hotspots, which are vulnerable to easily obtained packet sniffers , and which are often magnets to criminals. This can be particularly relevant to people travelling abroad who take advantage of VoIP on their smartphones and WiFi hotspots to make calls that avoid exorbitant roaming mobile call charges.

Firewalls

Either because repressive government wish to ban their use for ideological or political reasons (most notable China and Iran), or for reasons of market protection (e.g. much of the Caribbean), VoIP services are blocked via firewalls in many parts of the world.

By providing a secure encrypted tunnel to a server located outside the area, VPN allows VoIP users in these places to access VoIP services as normal.  In our article on 5 Best VPNs for Skype we give a full list of countries where Skype is blocked by firewalls, which as far as we are aware also applies, at least theory, to all VoIP providers (although lesser known services may have avoided being blocked at an IP level).


Summary

Rank Provider StartingPrice Review Link

1

vyprvpn_logo $6.67/mo 9.6
Read Review
Visit Site

2

logo $6.95/mo 9.3
Read Review
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3

logo $30.00/mo 9.2
Read Review
Visit Site

4

ExpressVPN_Logo $8.32/mo 9.1
Read Review
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5

logo $9.00/mo 9.0
Read Review
Visit Site

Take a look below to see slightly more detailed views about each provider.

Editor’s Choice

Winner – VyprVPN

Positives: fast, 160-bit and 256-bit OpenVPN encryption (Pro only), Android app, iOS app, 7 day money back guarantee, up to 3 simultaneous connections, no usage logs

Negatives: not much, price on high end

Run by global internet consortium Golden Frog, VyprVPN is a great choice for users of VOIP, especially as it runs its own data centers, which is not something any other VPN boasts, and therefore has excellent speeds. It keeps no usage logs (although it does keep some connection logs), and allows P2P downloading. Encryption is rock-solid at 160-bit to 256-bit OpenVPN, and the fact that you can connect up to 2 devices at once (or 3 for the premier package) is really good. Note that these comments only refer to the slightly pricey (our only real criticism) Pro plan, and that the PPTP only basic version should be avoided.

Try Out the Best VPN for VOIP Today!

Visit VyprVPN »

3 day free trial

2. Private Internet Access

Positives: accepts Bitcoin, no logs, blazingly fast, client features port forwarding, VPN kill switch and DNS leak protection, P2P: yes

Negatives: servers limited to US, Canada and Europe

Although it lacks the global coverage of HMA, Private Internet Access is one of the best choices available if privacy is your main concern. It keeps no logs, uses shared IPs (making it impossible to match individual users to external IPs visited), and accepts anonymous payment via Bitcoin. The groovy OpenVPN Android app makes secure communication when using a public hotspot easy, and the desktop client includes DNS leak protection and an internet kill switch to round out a superb VPN package.

» Visit Private Internet Access


3. StrongVPN

logo

Positives: 80,400 IP addresses with 402 servers in 20 countries, fast, great customer support options, 7 day money back guarantee

Negatives: keeps logs, expensive, P2P: no

Another ‘strong’ contender for those more interested in bypassing firewalls than in security (like most US based companies it keeps logs), StrongVPN has 402 servers located in 20 countries (with around 80,000 IP addresses), including the Far East (useful for unblocking VoIP in China), Miami (useful for unblocking VoIP in the Caribbean) and Turkey (useful for unblocking VoIP in the Iran and the UAE).

» Visit StrongVPN


4. ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN_Logo

Positives: between 84 – 336 IP addresses in 78 countries, nice VPN client

Negatives: keeps logs, P2P: no

ExpressVPN also has a big international presence, with servers in 29 countries, including Panama, Japan, Singapore and Egypt making it suitable for bypassing firewalls in many parts of the world. Unfortunately it also keep logs, so if privacy means a lot to you then you should look elsewhere

» Visit ExpressVPN


5. AirVPN

Positives: accepts Bitcoin, no logs, 256-bit AES encryption, dynamic port forwarding, real-time user and server statistics, support for Tor over VPN and VPN through SSL and SSH tunnels, good speeds, 3 day free trial, P2P: yes

Negatives: servers limited to US, Europe ans Singapore

Another good choice for security orientated VoIP users, AirVPN was set up by dedicated internet privacy activists and hactivists, and uses 256-bit AES encryption. It also accepts anonymous payment by Bitcoin, and supports Tor over VPN, and VPN through SSL and SSH tunnels. Beautifully presented graphs let you monitor the network in real-time, safe in the knowledge that you protected by some of the best privacy protection available.

» Visit AirVPN


Conclusion

VPN is a great way to bypass firewalls and help maintain your privacy, but unfortunately there is no service we have yet reviewed that combines the truly global reach needed to be a great general purpose solution for bypassing firewalls, with a rock-solid commitment to its user’s privacy. You therefore need to decide which aspect is more important to you (in general we always recommend choosing privacy, but users in China wanting to bypass the Great Firewall for example, are unlikely to worry about over much about UK or US court orders /subpoenas ).


And here’s the summary once more:

Summary

Rank Provider StartingPrice Review Link

1

vyprvpn_logo $6.67/mo 9.6
Read Review
Visit Site

2

logo $6.95/mo 9.3
Read Review
Visit Site

3

logo $30.00/mo 9.2
Read Review
Visit Site

4

ExpressVPN_Logo $8.32/mo 9.1
Read Review
Visit Site

5

logo $9.00/mo 9.0
Read Review
Visit Site


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Written by Pete Zaborszky
Pete runs Best VPN and wants to get detailed information to the readers. He is dedicated to being the best and providing the highest quality at anything he does. You can also find him on Twitter or Google+

4 Responses to “5 Best VPNs for VoIP”

  1. Marcos says:

    Have you tested those VoIP programs with those VPNs ?

    I didn’t manage to get Jitsi (XMPP/Jabber) working with AirVPN, I guess I would have the same problem using the other VPNs.

    Cheers

  2. kavindra uniyal says:

    private Internet access doesn’t provide voip service even i am not able to login in Skype using pia vpn. and response of their support team was :
    Hi Kavindra,

    Thanks for contacting us. I deeply apologize for this inconvenience. Due to recent abuse of VoIP services over our servers, we have started restricting access to VoIP services on our network.

    It is still possible to access VoIP services when using our VPN. We simply require that the VoIP server you are using be added to our white list of VoIP servers. Once the server is white listed, you should be able to access VoIP services again.

    In order to white list your server, we need you to provide us the name of the VoIP server you are connecting to, as well as the IP address of the server if possible. Once we have this, we can add the server to our white list, and you should be able to access your VoIP services again.

    Please let me know if there are further questions.

    Thanks,

    Kyle H. Level 1 Tech Support
    Private Internet Access™

    • Peter Selmeczy says:

      Hi Kavindra
      That’s a shame to hear. We’re going to test it out for ourselves to see how big the problem is and we will update the review accordingly.
      Thanks for your feedback!
      Peter

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