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What is VOIP?

what-is-voipVOIP is an acronym that stands for Voice Over Internet Protocol. VOIP calling was implemented to replace expensive long distance telephone calls. In the initial stages VOIP calling was only possible using computers. Both computers had to be equipped with a microphone, speaker and specialized software. Early systems were easy to install, use and weren’t very reliable. The network infrastructure wasn’t fully developed, and as result calls frequently had ‘dropouts’.

In the late 20th century as infrastructure networks were enhanced and business and home began getting access to broadband high speed internet access, VOIP calling made dramatic improvements. One of the leading companies in the field was Skype.

Today VOIP calling is possible on a standard telephone without using a computer. Your standard telephone is connected to VOIP gateway. This gateway takes your voice signal and breaks it down into a digital signal. Once the signal is in digital format it is broken down into smaller bits of data known as ‘packets’. In addition to the digitized voice each packet contains a destination address and reassembly instructions. These packets are identical to packets used for your current internet connection. The packet then travels across the internet to its destination. Once the packet reaches it’s destination it goes through another gateways and is converted back into an analog signal. This analog signal finishes by going through a Public Telephone Switch Network (PTSN) and to the phone of the person receiving a call.

Because VOIP uses the internet to make calls the distance between the origin and destination is irrelevant. It costs the same for every call, no matter what the distance is between the two points. This makes VOIP calling more efficient and cost effective than convention calling plans. VOIP calling plans are based on the amount of time used.

The newer more advanced VOIP networks don’t need to interface with POTS (Plain Old Telephone System) they use specialized telephones developed specifically for IP Telephony. Instead of having a standard RJ45 telephone connection they will use network connection, to interface directly with the internet. These phones are completely portable and self contained. For example a business traveler can take his phone with him on trip, plug it into a hotel internet connection, and make calls the same way as if he or she was in their office.

As the quality of VOIP calling has been steadily improving, and as a result it is becoming more commonly used. New start up telecom business are receiving venture capital funding, and spending millions of dollars on infrastructure development and enhancement. Existing telecommunications giants like Verizon and WorldCom are also making large investments in VOIP technology. VOIP technology is going to revolutionize the way telecommunication companies do business.

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