- Tech and Technology
VOIP - Voice over IP
What is VoIP?
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.
The Economics of VoIP

VoIP has become popular largely because of the cost advantages to consumers over traditional telepone networks. Most Americans 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.
VoIP Telephones
VOIP Hardware

There are three methods of connecting to a VoIP network: -

Using a VoIP telephone -
  • Using a "normal" telephone with a VoIP adapter -
  • Using a computer with speakers and a microphone -
  • Types of VoIP Calls

    VoIP telephone calls can be placed either to other VoIP devices, or to normal telephones on the PSTN (Public Switched Telephone Network).

    Calls from a VoIP device to a PSTN device are commonly called "PC-to-Phone" calls, even though the VoIP device may not be a PC.
    Calls from a VoIP device to another VoIP device are commonly called "PC-to-PC" calls, even though neither device may be a PC.
    How does VoIP work?

    VoIP or Voice Over Internet Protocol (sometimes called Internet Telephony) is touted in some circles as the technology of future. The reasoning is simple, really. VoIP is bringing possibilities to the forefront of technological thinking because the possibilities were listed as impossible just a few years ago. VoIP uses a broadband internet connection for routing telephone calls, as opposed to conventional switching and fiberoptic alternatives. This process holds great promise in providing higher efficiency and lower cost for communication consumers. One interesting aspect of the technology is that, for the user, no large scale infrastructure is required. It's all about combining the functionality of the internet and a conventional phone into one single service with minimal software and hardware support.

    How Does it Work?

    The most common way VoIP works is that the end user establishes a hi speed broadband connection, a router and a VoIP gateway. Instead of a standard telephone line, the router sends the telephone calls over an internet connection. The VoIP gateway, placed somewhere in direct proximity of the connected Internet converts the analog signals into digital format, which are further broken down into smaller chunks called 'packets', before sending it over the internet, much like the way data is transmitted to and from the computer. These packets are sent to their final destination and instructions for bringing back into an understandable form are embedded in them. It then goes through a VoIP gateway where the packets are reconverted into the original analog format utilizing a PSTN (Public Telephone Switch Network), thereby routing the call to the number the caller has dialed blending old school technology and hi tech delivery in a seamless and instantaneous way.

    More Than One Way to Make a Call

    Using VoIP technology, phone calls can also be made using IP phones between two computers. IP phones looks like normal standard handsets, but equipped with an RJ 45 Ethernet connector in place of the common RJ 11 connectors. These phones come with all the necessary hardware and software pre-loaded, allowing the user to directly connect to the router bringing the new user into the cost effective world of VoIP.

    PC to PC calls are the easiest and most inexpensive way to make use of VoIP technology. There are many companies providing software for free or at reduced cost to encourage consumer experimentation with VoIP. When calling from a PC, all the user may need is a microphone, a suitable sound card and a reliable internet connection. The service itself may be free of cost in many cases. The only fee the end user may have is the monthly fee for the internet service provider and nothing additional for the actual calls made.
    VoIP Features

    The biggest advantage of VoIP is that the customers can make calls from anywhere in the world where a broadband internet connection is available. The customers can take their IP phones or ATA's with them on national and international trips and still can manage to access what is essentially an individual's domestic phone line.

    Then there are the softphones, which a software application that loads the VoIP services onto the desktop or laptop. Some even simulate an interface that looks like a telephone, with which you can place VoIP calls to anybody around the world, through a standard broadband connection.
    Most VoIP services come with the caller id, call waiting, call transfer, repeat dialing and three-way dialing features. For additional features such as call filtering, forwarding a call, or sending calls directly to the voice mail, the service provider may assess an additional fee. Most VoIP services also allow the user to check his/her voicemail over the web or attach messages to an e-mail that is sent to his/her PDA or PC.
    Generally, the facilities and components provided by VOIP phone system suppliers and service operators may vary in significant ways. It is advisable to check the pros and cons before subscribing. Make sure that you have available technical support for the possible compatibility issues that could arise between the existing and new hardware components.

    VoIP holds a great promise, it has some major technical hurdles to jump, such as emergency calling, and the need for an uninterruptible power source (i.e. PC battery backup). However, as VoIP is set to become more widely available, let's hope there will be reliable solutions in place for the existing problems in the coming years. Who knows? In another five years, we may have VoIP system sans a router and the VoIP service being more common than conventional phone networks we rely on so heavily today.

    How can I get free VoIP?
    Free VoIP PC-to-PC Calls

    Free VoIP software is available for both Unix/Linux and Microsoft Windows. With one of these free VoIP software packages, you can place PC-to-PC calls across the Internet.

    Skype is a unique advertiser-supported service which provides free VoIP service for PC-to-PC calls.
    The key limitation here is PC-to-PC calls -- you cannot place a call to a regular telephone number for free. This is because someone must pay for the infrastructure to connect the Internet to the telephone system and also pay for the call time used on the telephone system.
    Free VoIP PC-to-Phone Calls

    To make PC-to-Phone calls, you could install a VoIP gateway or a PBX which acts as a VoIP gateway. However, you will then need to hook your VoIP gateway or PBX up to the PSTN (Public Switched Telephone Network) somehow, and for that you will have to pay the telephone company.

    Alternatively, you can sign-up to a service like Vonage, AT&T CallVantage, or Lingo VOIP which will enable you to make PC-to-Phone calls for a flat monthly fee.
    If you purchase a VoIP phone, or a VoIP converter for your telephone, you can use a very normal-looking telephone to place PC-to-PC and PC-to-Phone calls. This is often more convenient than using your PC to place telephone calls.
    How do I compare VoIP providers?

    VoIP ( Voice over Internet Protocol) is changing the way people communicate. VoIP utilizes a broadband internet connection for routing telephone calls, as opposed to conventional switching methods, providing efficient use of existing Internet connections as well as lowering overall costs. Interestingly, there is no need for any large scale infrastructures; just combine a conventional phone with a broadband Internet connection to utilize a single service with minimal software and hardware support.

    VoIP service providers are touting unlimited local and long distance calling for as little as $199 per year. This provides customers with substantial annual savings. There are several VoIP providers offering VoIP service for both residential customers as well as business. However, from a customer's standpoint it is an ideal option to compare several VoIP providers in selecting the best deal.
    VoIP Product Features

    There are several VoIP providers who claim outstanding services and comprehensive features. Don't be fooled - not all VoIP services are created equal. The VoIP package includes many features that may not be available on traditional phones. The most common VoIP features include 3-way calling and call waiting. As the competition between VoIP providers escalates, some providers are offering additional features to establish branding of their business while attracting additional customers. That's why it's always a good option to compare several VoIP providers to discover the VoIP product features you will get when taking a connection from the provider.

    Monthly Rates

    One of the main advantages of VoIP is reduced long distance cost and inexpensive local phone service with several enhanced features conventional telephone services are ill equipped to provide. Compare various VoIP providers to know the monthly rates they charge for their service. Selecting an ideal VoIP provider will help you to save up to 75% on expected annual charges.

    Using VoIP for International Calling

    If you make a lot of international calls, do a bit of research to find a VoIP provider who offers outstanding international services at the best rates. International rates differ from one VoIP provider to another. There are also some carriers which offer unlimited overseas calling. Though this offer is limited to certain countries, check whether the country to which you call falls in this category.

    911 Service

    Today, majority of the VoIP providers offer E911 service. While selecting a VoIP provider, make sure the provider offers 911 service.

    Keeping Your Number

    There are many VoIP providers who allow the customers to transfer (port) their current phone number to the VoIP service. Not all VoIP providers offer this service. If you need to change your phone number in this way, then you need to do research on the various VoIP providers to discover whether they offer such services. However, before asking your VoIP provider to switch your current number to the VoIP service, it is advisable to try out the provider's service and make sure that you are satisfied with the end result.

    Money Back Guarantee

    As VoIP is a relatively new product, most of the VoIP providers will offer a free money back guarantee. As a customer you will be in a risk-free position if your VoIP provider is offers a money back guarantees for up to 30 days.

    Comparing various VoIP providers will help you to select the one VoIP service provider whose terms and conditions meet your specific needs and calling pattern, especially if you make regular long distance or international calls.
    What are VoIP phones?

    VoIP phones are telephones which connect to VoIP networks instead of to the PSTN . -

    VoIP phones with Ethernet connections -
  • VoIP phones with Wi-Fi / 802.11 connections -
  • VoIP phones with dialup modem connections -
  • Software VoIP phones -
  • VoIP phones with Ethernet connections

    A VoIP phone with an Ethernet connection is the easiest type of VoIP telephone to use. Instead of a standard telephone >RJ-11 connector to plug into the PSTN , these phones have RJ-45 connectors to plug into Ethernet networks.

    The Ethernet connection is used to connect these VoIP phones to the VoIP server or VoIP gateway.
    VoIP phones with Wi-Fi / 802.11 connections

    Wi-Fi (802.11) VoIP phones provide the same service as Ethernet VoIP phones, but they do it wirelessly.

    A Wi-Fi enabled VoIP phone connects to a VoIP server or VoIP gateway through your existing Wi-Fi network.
    VoIP phones with dialup modem connections

    VoIP phones with dialup modem connections are very similar to VoIP phones with Ethernet connections.

    Instead of connecting to an Ethernet network, these VoIP phones dialup over the PSTN to VoIP service providers.
    Using a VoIP phone with a dialup modem connection requires a regular analog POTS telephone line, but enables long-distance and international calls to be made over VoIP networks, usually at a significant savings.
    Software VoIP phones

    Software VoIP phones turn your PC into a VoIP telephone.

    Software VoIP telephones are less expensive than the choices listed above, if you already own a personal computer. -
    Hardware for Software VoIP phones

    Software VoIP phones use the PC's sound card, speakers or earphones, and microphone. This hardware works to emulate a telephone, even though this is not what the PC was designed for.

    For better ease-of-use, many companies manufacture USB VoIP phones. These devices give your PC a normal-looking telephone handset or headset. -
    Technology VOIP 2023
    Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) Market to hit $100 Billion by 2032 ... GlobeNewswire
    Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) Market Analysis Outlooks, Size ... Digital Journal
    Global Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP) Market: Size, Share, Competitive Landscape, Current Industry Trends openPR
    Immersive CX is the New Way to Win and Keep Customers Valdosta Daily Times