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Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP) For Dummies

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Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP) For Dummies

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Voice over Internet protocol (VoIP) is a technology that enables voice and fax communications to travel over the Internet by transforming analog audio signals into digital signals. While the conventional phones, referred to as public switched telephone network (PSTN), use circuit-switched telephony. Other names for VoIP are Internet telephony, (internet protocol) IP telephony, broadband telephony, among others. 

VoIP is expected to replace the PSTN being used now, as it is cost effective. Most transnational business users have already switched over to this mode of communication to interact with their clients and their branches located outside their country. The first VoIP for PCs was released in 1995.

There are different standards for different vendors, but the H.323 standard has been deployed by most users, and it is the only protocol that has been adopted by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU).

There are different ways in which VoIP works. You can connect a normal phone to a computer to make a call, make calls from a computer to another computer, and then from one conventional phone to another.

When you use a traditional phone, an analog telephone adapter (ATA) is needed, while a router, a device that lets data travel between networks, is needed when a wireless network is used for the VoIP.

You need a cable or a digital subscriber line (DSL) modem to be able to make VoIP calls. If you use a cable, it is suggested to have a bandwidth speed ranging from one megabyte per second (MBPS) to six MBPS, while using a DSL modem, the speed should be much higher.

Skype is the most popular service used in PCs these days for making VoIP calls from computer to computer. Vonage is another popular service. Portability is a benefit while using VoIP.

As VoIP uses IP along with Transmission Control Protocol (TCP), it has the capability to use other communication mediums in addition to voice, such as video and images. Here, video is enabled through a web camera. In addition, it can be can be conveniently used over wireless networks, such as Wi-Fi.

On the flip side, VoIP has not yet come of age. Bandwidth may not be sufficient at times, power outages will cause problems, and it can be prone to security problems, such as identity theft, spamming, hacking, virus and spywares, among others. Besides, there are no regulations governing VoIP service providers yet.

For those who want to opt for VoIP, there are different types of services available to a subscriber now. There is a subscription-based VoIP service for PSTN phone users, services through Internet, such as Skype, mobile telephony that works on global system for mobile communications (GSM) networks, such as third-generation (3G), general packet radio service (GPRS), Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access (WiMax), among others. Unlike in VoIP services through the Internet, it is free in mobile telephony only if the subscriber at the receiving end too uses the same service on the device as the caller. Then there are VoIP solutions for the small and medium businesses (SMBs) which are offered by companies, such as Cisco, Nortel, Avaya, etc.

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