VoIP: Voice over IP
Definition: Voice over Internet Protocol, or VoIP, is the technology used to transmit voice conversations over an internal or
external data network using IP packets (digital form); without loss in functionality, reliability
or quality; and in compliance with
the International Telecommunications Union specifications. The term is also used
to refer to the hardware and software used to carry such calls over the network.
What is an IP number?
IP stands for Internet Protocol. An IP address is a long and unique number that
devices use to identify and communicate with each other. When you log into the
internet your computer equipment is essentially given a unique (to keep the
explanation simple) number.
How is the VoIP call made?
A voice signal from a
VoIP phone (or an older phone connected through an
adapter) is passed through a VoIP device that converts the regular telephone
voice signal to a digital one so it can use a
connection where it travels to the destination equipment. The digital
signal is then converted back to the original voice call.
In other words, when the originator calls a number the VoIP adapter logs on to
the routing server - which looks up the destination IP number that's associated
with the dialled phone number - and it makes the connection. If the destination
number isn't using VoIP, and doesn't have the phone number tied in with an IP
number, then it is recognised that the destination number is a Public Switched
Telephone Network (PSTN) phone and the call is routed through the PSTN*.
*The PSTN is also known by names such as POTS (Plain Old Telephone System) and
PATS (Publicly Available Telephone Services).
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Major advantages for small businesses:
- Cost: The major advantage of not paying per call - and on length of call
and on the
destination location - results in substantial savings. You still do pay for
calls to PSTN numbers but you tend to pay less. Calls between your own offices
across the country can all be free. As calls to other VoIP users are
free your call costs are likely to go down as more people sign up for VoIP.
- Manageability: Employees spread all over the country working from branch
offices (or even their homes) can all be given extensions of a single number
with the ability to route calls between themselves. Customers are unaware that
employees aren't all in one central office location. There are numerous other
advantages to this better control.
- Equipment: While having
VoIP phones involves it own equipment it does dispense with the complexity, cost,
and training that most PBX equipment demands.
- New features: VoIP allows businesses to access new features they may not have enjoyed before e.g., video conferencing.
- Integration: (or "Convergence") You can better integrate your phones, voicemail, email, SMS, faxes and other communication.
- Feedback/Monitoring: You can get better stats on phone usage, better monitor remote phone users' phonetime etc.
Other articles on VoIP: