IP telephony (Internet Protocol telephony) is a term used to describe technologies that use the IP protocol to exchange voice, fax, and other forms of information, traditionally carried over the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN). The call travels in the form of packets, over a Local Area Network (LAN), or the Internet, avoiding PSTN tolls.
Starting in the mid, to late 1990s, the Internet and the TCP/IP protocol began to drive the telephone and communications industry to change. The Internet Protocol becomes the transport for almost all data communications. Today, all communication carriers are using an IP infrastructure for a part, or for all of its voice services. Companies are already using VoIP for their internal voice communications or have plans to implement it as part of their Unified Communication solution.
- Save a lot of money
- More than two persons
- Cheap user hardware and software
- Abundant, Interesting and Useful Features
- More than voice
- More efficient use of bandwidth
- Flexible network layout
- Fax over IP
- More productive software development
If you don’t use VoIP for voice communication, then you are most certainly using the good old phone line (PSTN – Packet-Switched Telephone Network). On a PSTN line, time is really money. You actually pay for each minute you spend communicating on the phone. International calls are much more expensive. Since VoIP uses the Internet as a backbone, the only cost you have when using it is the monthly Internet bill to your ISP. Of course, you need broadband Internet access, like ADSL, with a decent speed. In fact, unlimited 24/7 ADSL Internet service is what most people use today, and this causes your monthly cost to be a fixed amount. You can speak as much as you wish on VoIP and the connection cost will still be the same.<.p>
Studies have shown that, compared to using a PSTN line, using VoIP can potentially make you save up to 40 % on local calls, and up to 90 % on international calls.
On the phone line, only two persons can speak at a time. With VoIP, you can set up a conference with a whole team communicating in real time. VoIP compresses data packets during transmission, and this causes more data to be handled by the carrier. As a result, more calls can be handled on one access line.
If you are an Internet user wishing to use VoIP for voice communication, the only additional hardware you require besides your computer and Internet connection are a sound card, speakers, and a microphone. These are quite cheap. There exist several software packages downloadable from the Internet, which you can install and use for the purpose. Examples of such applications are the well-known Skype andNet2Phone. You do not actually need a telephone set, which can be quite expensive, along with the underlying equipment, especially when you have a phone network.
Using VoIP also means benefitting from its abundant features which can make your VoIP experience very rich and sophisticated, both personally and for your business. You are thus better equipped for call management. You can, for example, make calls anywhere in the world to any destination in the world with your VoIP account. Features also include Caller ID, Contact Lists, Voicemail, extra-virtual numbers etc. Read more on VoIP Features here.
VoIP is based on the Internet Protocol (IP), which is in fact, along with TCP (Transmission Control Protocol), the basic underlying protocol for the Internet.
By virtue of this, VoIP also handles media types other than voice: you can transfer images, video and text along with the voice. For instance, you can speak to someone while sending her files or even showing yourself using a web cam.
It is known that about 50 % of a voice conversation is silence. VoIP fills the ‘empty’ silence spaces with data so that bandwidth in data communication channels is not wasted. In other words, a user is not given bandwidth when he is not talking, and this bandwidth is used efficiently for other bandwidth consumers. Moreover, compression and the ability to remove redundancy in some speech patterns add up to the efficiency.
When using VoIP, the network complexity inherent in PSTN connections is eliminated, yielding an integrated and flexible infrastructure which can actually support many types of communication. The system being more standardized, it requires less equipment management and is therefore more fault tolerant.
If you work in an organization using an intranet or extranet, you can still access your office from home through VoIP. You can convert your home into a segment of the office and remotely use the voice, fax and data services of your workplace through the organization’s intranet. The portable nature of the VoIP technology is causing it to gain popularity as the trend is towards portable commodities. Portable hardware is becoming more and more common, as are portable services, and VoIP fits in well.
The problems of fax services using PSTN are high cost for long distances, quality attenuation in the analog signals and incompatibility between communicating machines. Real-time fax transmission on VoIP simply uses a fax interface to convert the data into packets and ensures complete delivery of the data in a very reliable way. With VoIP, there is finally not even the need for a fax machine for sending and receiving fax. Read more on fax over IP here.
VoIP is able to combine different data types and to make routing and signaling more flexible and robust. As a result, network application developers will find it easier to develop and deploy emerging applications for data communication using VoIP. Moreover, the possibility of implementing VoIP software in web browsers and servers gives a more productive and competitive edge to e-commerce and customer service applications. Read more on VoIP software development here.