Insight to VoIP : Voice over Internet Protocol

If you've never heard of VoIP, get ready to change the way you think about long-distance phone calls. VoIP, or Voice over Internet Protocol, is a method for taking analog audio signals, like the kind you hear when you talk on the phone, and turning them into digital data that can be transmitted over the Internet.

How is this useful?

VoIP can turn a standard Internet connection into a way to place free phone calls. The practical upshot of this is that by using some of the free VoIP software that is available to make Internet phone calls, you're bypassing the phone company (and its charges) entirely.

VoIP stands for Voice over Internet Protocol. It is also referred to as IP Telephony or Internet Telephony. It is another way of making phone calls, with the difference of making the calls cheaper or completely free. The ‘phone’ part is not always present anymore, as you can communicate without a telephone set.

VoIP has a lot of advantages over the traditional phone system. The main reason for which people are so massively turning to VoIP technology is the cost. VoIP is said to be cheap, but most people use it for free. Yes, if you have a computer with a microphone and speakers, and a good Internet connection, you can communicate using VoIP for free. This can also be possible with your mobile and home phone.

There are many ways of using VoIP technology. It all depends on where and how you will be making the calls. It could be at home, at work, in your corporate network, during a travel and even on the beach. The way you make calls varies with the VoIP service you use.

VoIP is Often Free

The great thing about VoIP is that it taps additional value from the already existing infrastructure without additional costs. VoIP transmits the sounds you make over the standard Internet infrastructure, using the IP Protocol. This is how you can communicate without paying for more than your monthly Internet bill. Skype is the most popular example of services that allow you to make free calls on your PC. There are many computer-based VoIP services out there, so many that you will have a difficult choice. You can also make free calls using traditional phones and mobile phones. See the different flavors of VoIP service that allow you to do this.

If VoIP is free, then what’s cheap?

VoIP can be used for free with computers and even, in some cases, with mobile and landline phones. However, when it is used to completely replace the PSTN service, then it has a price. But this price is way cheaper than standard phone calls. This becomes thrilling when you consider international calls. Some people have had their communication costs on international calls cut down by 90% thanks to VoIP.

What makes calls free or paid really depends on many factors, including the nature of the call and the services offered. You only have to choose one depending on the nature of your communication and needs.

The interesting thing about VoIP is that there is not just one way to place a call. There are three different "flavors" of VoIP service in common use today:
  1. ATA -- The simplest and most common way is through the use of a device called an ATA (analog telephone adaptor). The ATA allows you to connect a standard phone to your computer or your Internet connection for use with VoIP. The ATA is an analog-to-digital converter. It takes the analog signal from your traditional phone and converts it into digital data for transmission over the Internet. Providers like Vonage and AT&T CallVantage are bundling ATAs free with their service. You simply crack the ATA out of the box, plug the cable from your phone that would normally go in the wall socket into the ATA, and you're ready to make VoIP calls. Some ATAs may ship with additional software that is loaded onto the host computer to configure it; but in any case, it's a very straightforward setup.
  2. IP Phones -- These specialized phones look just like normal phones with a handset, cradle and buttons. But instead of having the standard RJ-11 phone connectors, IP phones have an RJ-45 Ethernet connector. IP phones connect directly to your router and have all the hardware and software necessary right onboard to handle the IP call. Wi-Fi phones allow subscribing callers to make VoIP calls from any Wi-Fi hot spot.
  3. Computer-to-computer -- This is certainly the easiest way to use VoIP. You don't even have to pay for long-distance calls. There are several companies offering free or very low-cost software that you can use for this type of VoIP. All you need is the software, a microphone, speakers, a sound card and an Internet connection, preferably a fast one like you would get through a cable or DSL modem. Except for your normal monthly ISP fee, there is usually no charge for computer-to-computer calls, no matter the distance.
The VoIP Trend

VoIP is a relatively new technology and it has already achieved wide acceptance and use. There is still a lot to improve and it is expected to have major technological advances in VoIP in the future. It has so far proved to be a good candidate for replacing the POTS (Plain Old Telephone System). It, of course, has drawbacks along with the numerous advantages it brings; and its increasing use worldwide is creating new considerations surrounding its regulations and security.

The growth of VoIP today can be compared to that of the Internet in the early 90’s. The public is getting more and more conscious of the advantages they can reap from VoIP at home or VoIP for business. VoIP which not only gives facilities and allows people to save, but also generating huge income for those who dived early into the new phenomenon.

This site will guide you to everything you need to know about VoIP and its use, whether you are a home phone user, a professional, a corporate manager, a network administrator, an Internet communicator and chatter, an international caller or a simple mobile user who doesn't want to spend all his/her money of paying for calls. So, get started right away.

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