One of the many technologies that powers many modern in-app calling services like Skype, Tango, and Viber is Voice over Internet Protocol or VoIP.
This technology has been around for nearly 20 years allowing users to communicate device to device across the world but very few people know what this is all about.
Here are 6 VoIP facts that you probably didn't know, that shed some light on this essential technology.
1. VoIP is Nothing New
The first VoIP calls were made by ARPANET in 1974, but the VoIP technology we know and use today was invented by Vocaltec in Israel in 1995, starting as a home project and eventually being released as a product called InternetPhone. From there, the first PC to Phone calls came in 1998 but the idea and basic principle behind VoIP is quite old.
2. VoIP Was Born Out of Economic Pressure
It was not until the 1990s when hardware prices and the economic climate changed people’s attitudes to voice calls over the Internet and make it seem a sensible choice to cut costs for consumers and businesses. Businesses were looking to cut costs and even today in Africa, voice over the Internet is a great choice to offer great bandwidth at a low cost. Building and maintaining long distance phone lines is a considerable cost, so VoIP technologies offer a scalable and affordable solution.
3. VoIP Was Not Always Free
Early users of VoIP calling systems had to listen to adverts before their call to pay for the service. American users were attracted to the cost savings VoIP could offer because of long distance charges. It was not until later providers using PC equipment and greater user numbers that calls became free.
4. VoIP has Changed Modern Cultural History
VoIP has paved the way for the offshore call center, which moved many call centers from domestic countries out into countries with cheaper labor. At the same time, voice over the Internet is helping people across Africa connect with each other where there are no copper wires for traditional phone lines.
5. When VoIP Became Popular, it Grew…Fast
It was not until around 2003 with companies such as Skype and greater access to the Internet and computers that VoIP took off. Between 1998 and 2002, VoIP made up for 1-3% of all voice calls. By 2003, it grew to 25% and made up for 204 billion minutes in 2005!
6. VoIP Still has Some Stigma
In some countries, there is still a stigma that Internet voice calls have a lower quality. This is not true but dates back to the 1995/1998 projects that often had poor quality because of the early nature of the technology (read our article on 5 VoIP problems that are now extinct). VoIP has evolved into the technology that powers many of the communications apps we use today. The new trend is coming from the USA with VoLTE or mobile VoIP. This will allow for much more rich communications including video.
This article originally appeared on the Sinch blog