Voice over Internet Protocol ( VoIP) permits one to make phone calls using broadband internet connection. Some services only allow you to call other users with the same service. Other providers allow you to phone anyone with a telephone number. Some services operate through a computer or VoIP phone. Others let you use a conventional phone through an adaptor. Some VoIP providers are free, usually only for calls to subscribers of the same service. Broadband internet is required in order to use VoIP. This includes cable or DSL.
Alexander Graham Bell made the first phone call 130 years ago. The first phone equipment was analog. It wasn’t intended to carry digital signals. The first digital phone network came along in 1964. VoIP was developed in 1995.
VoIP is also known as IP Phone. These calls navigate networks using IP or Internet Protocol. VoIP takes analog audio signals and turns them into digital data that can be transmitted over the internet. It relies on packet switching. This is similar to the way emails are sent over the Net. VoIP disassembles a call into mini info packets or chunks. The information is sent and received as needed. The switch isn’t continually opened. This allows surplus line capacity to be used in sending other data. VoIP relies mainly on SIP or session initiation protocol. SIP provides simple, lightweight means of initiating and concluding connections for real-time interactive communications over IP networks.
One advantage of VoIP is that you won’t have to maintain and pay for an additional line to make phone calls. Experts tell that switching to VoIP may reduce phone costs by up to 30 percent. Using VoIP to consolidate its fifteen networks into one, NASDAQ estimates that it has cut $40 million of its $100 million network costs annually. Also, many VoIP providers offer the same features as long-established telephone companies at no extra cost. One can also pick their own area code.
Once upon a time, call centers were equipped with many phone lines used by persons physically present at that facility. VoIP allows a call center to relocate easily and hire worldwide.
There are three ways to make a VoIP call: ATA, IP Phone, or computer-to-computer. ATA or analog telephone adaptor lets you connect a standard phone to a computer or internet connection for use with VoIP. IP Phones look like normal phones. They are digital and have internal antennas. It can be plugged right into a high-speed internet connection without an adaptor. IP Phones have an RJ-45 Ethernet connector instead of the traditional RJ-11 found on a regular phone. The most popular method is computer-to-computer. Both users must be using the same software. All you need is a Net connection, microphone, and speakers. This is the least expensive way to make a VoIP call, but one is limited in mobility and flexibility.
VoIP has some serious technical issues. Two of the most common are latency and reliability. Latency causes a delay between when a word is spoken and when it is heard. You might also experience an echo in the voice stream. Dropped calls indicate a problem with jitter. Jitter is a latency or delay problem. It can cause noisy or scratchy voice quality as well. The most common problem is reliability. Conventional phone service is available 99.999 percent of the time, the famous “five nines” of reliability. With VoIP, it is not so. The best private networks are available approximately 94 percent of the time. The average user can be without the digital equivalent of a dial-tone up to 22 days a year. VoIP is powered by electricity. If the electricity goes out, so does your phone unless you have a backup.
Securing a VoIP connection is not easy. A firewall is the first thing many experts recommend. It puts a barrier between a computer and security threats like viruses. Encryption secures data passing through networks so that it is unreadable if stolen.
Decoupling calls from their traditional networks will have great ramifications on such giants as Verizon, SBC, and Bell South as well as the $200 billion telecom market. New Millennium Research Council estimated that the internet would carry 40 percent of all U.S. calls by 2009.
VoIP has been unregulated by the FCC. It has been ruled as an unregulated information service. In 2006, the FCC determined that VoIP service providers must pay into the USF or universal service fund. The FCC stated that VoIP is an interstate service provider and will be regulated and taxed by the federal government.
Voice Over IP, Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia, Wikipedia Foundation Inc. Mod 10 Jan. 2011