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VoIP Overview

Since we’re using computers all the time to do our work, let’s make it easy and add the phone to the pile. VoIP also known as (voice over Internet protocol), Internet telephony, IP telephony, and Internet voice is catching on and is expected to grow in the next few years. The technology has been around for about a decade, but it isn’t till now that we have the supporting technology to handle it and an market reaching critical mass (hate using jargon, but there isn’t a better way to say it).

VoIP requires users to have broadband connections. With 22 percent of Americans connected to the Internet by broadband, the numbers are large enough for making money with Internet voice and big telecoms are already in the game.

How VoIP works

VoIP works like email. TCP/IP networks consist of IP packets with a header for controlling communication and information for transportating data. VoIP uses the IP packets to send the human voice across the Internet using IP packets to its destination.

It digitizes a voice into data packets, sends them through the network and converts them back to voice when arriving at the destination. Digital format can be compressed, routed, and converted to other and better formats.

When calling someone using VoIP, you use a phone with an adapter. Just like we use a telephone to make phone calls on POTS (plain old telephone service), the adapter is a device to connect the phone to the network. The VoIP phone has its own phone number for callers to dial.

The good and bad things

An advantage of VoIP is it can avoid charges typically found on PSTNs (public switched telephone network). For customers, there is less worry about how long or how often they make phone calls. Calling another state costs the same as calling another country even on the other side of the world. IP-based boxes are cheaper than analog PBXes.

However, service reliability is an issue. How many times has a download or connecting to a Web site faltered? That may not be such a big deal, but it is more disruptive to phone calls. Network issues are complicated by customers getting broadband from one company and VoIP from another. When a call gets switched from network to network, it impacts quality.

When the Internet is down, so is VoIP. Traditional phones aren’t affected by power like VoIP since they have its own power and work during blackouts.

Money and regs

Companies make their money by selling features and services. Connect anytime and anywhere there is an Internet connection or while in Wi-Fi-enabled hot spots. It’s also exempt from traditional regulations and taxes, but that could change tomorrow though telecoms are working to keep it unregulated. This exemption is keeping prices down, and current prices are anywhere from $20 to $65 a month.

More information

VoIP Wiki

VoIP Calculators

FCC VoIP Info

VoIP Watch Blog



Posted September 23, 2004 09:09 AM :: Tags: :: Category: Tech


Comments

Try using Skype. Its free.

Posted by: Jim Walsh at September 24, 2004 12:42 PM

Skype is free and popular, but it is also has its problems. You get what you don't pay for.

There are other higher quality VoIP products that are more reliable. Skype is missing important features that professionals would need when using this tool.

Posted by: Meryl at September 24, 2004 01:18 PM

Meryl:

You make two comments about Skype without explaining what they are. I would be interested in knowing the answers to both statements since I am a Skype user and don't know what I'm missing. Regards.

Posted by: John at September 24, 2004 03:00 PM

I use X world lite free dialup, it is brilliant, and free! You just need a headset and the phone is on the desktop.
http://www.xten.com/
chris

Posted by: chris at September 25, 2004 11:53 AM

I've used Skype and it appears to the better out of the free ones. I did have to tweak with things and work out the best place to place the mic and my conclusion is using a headset with a mic is best.

Posted by: Sian at September 25, 2004 04:08 PM
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