VoIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) is simply the transmission of voice traffic over IP-based networks.

The Internet Protocol (IP) was originally designed for data networking. The success of IP in becoming a world standard for data networking has led to its adaption to voice networking.

Since it first appeared in the home market about five years ago, Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) technology has been helping people make big savings on their phone bills. Yet many users are still unsure about exactly how it works and what you need to get started.

In essence, VoIP allows a broadband Internet connection to be used to make and receive phone calls. Because the calls travel over the Internet rather than the copper wire networks of the major phone companies, a VoIP telephone systems provider can offer rates way below those of traditional carriers. In some cases calls can even be free.

To achieve this feat, VoIP technology converts sound waves (a human voice) into data. During this conversion, the voice is sampled thousands of times each second with the samples being converted to electronic packets. These packets are then streamed over the Internet in the same way as everything from emails to web pages.

Because the voice stream has to find its way through the complex web of networks that make up the Internet, each packet is labelled with the destination address of the person being called. So, even if some of the packets take a different path or arrive out of order, they can still be reassembled into voice sound waves when they arrive. When this process happens in two directions, you have a phone call.

Early usage of VoIP was constrained by slow Internet links which led to poor voice quality and call drop-outs. But, as more and more people moved to broadband connections such as ADSL or cable, the quality and reliability of VoIP calls has improved significantly.

The Economics of VoIP:

VoIP has become popular largely because of the cost advantages to consumers over traditional telephone networks. Most People pay a flat monthly fee for local telephone calls and a per-minute charge for long-distance calls.

VoIP calls can be placed across the Internet. Most Internet connections are charged using a flat monthly fee structure.

Using the Internet connection for both data traffic and voice calls can allow consumers to get rid of one monthly payment. In addition, VoIP plans do not charge a per-minute fee for long distance.

For International calling, the monetary savings to the consumer from switching to VoIP technology can be enormous.

What Can it Do for Your Business?

VoIP and IP telephony are becoming increasingly popular with large corporations and consumers alike. For many people, Internet Protocol (IP) is more than just a way to transport data, it’s also a tool that simplifies and streamlines a wide range of business applications. Telephony is the most obvious example. VoIP—or voice over IP—is also the foundation for more advanced unified communications applications—including Web and video conferencing—that can transform the way you do business.

Service Quality:

Public Internet phone calling uses the Internet for connecting phone calls, especially for consumers. But most businesses are using IP telephony across their own managed private networks because it allows them to better handle security and service quality. Using their own networks, companies have more control in ensuring that voice quality is as good as, if not better than, the services they would have previously experienced with their traditional phone system.

VOIP Hard phone:

Standalone Ethernet Hard Phones (voice only) — NOTE: USB phones or Skype adapters don’t belong here!!!

An Ethernet hard phone is a self contained IP telephone that looks just like a conventional phone but instead of a conventional phone jack, it has an Ethernet port through which it communicates directly with a VoIP server, VoIP gateway or another VoIP phone. Since a broadband hard phone communicates directly with a VoIP server, VoIP gateway or another VoIP phone it does not require any personal computer nor any software running on a personal computer to make or receive VoIP phone calls. It can be used independently, all that is required is an internet connection. While PC based software solutions are cheaper, a hard phone is the best solution for IP telephony.

VOIP Soft Phones:

Soft Phones (voice only)

A soft phone is an IP telephone in software. It can be installed on a personal computer and function as an IP phone. Soft phones require appropriate audio hardware to be present on the personal computer they run. This can either be a sound card with speakers or earphones and a microphone, or, alternatively a USB phone set. Soft phones are inferior to hard phones but cheaper to obtain, many are available as a free download.

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