What is VOIP, or Voice Over Internet Protocol?
A VOIP system, or Voice Over Internet Protocol system, is simply a phone service deployed over the internet. VOIP networks transmit voice communications and video calls over IP networks to provide unified communications for personal and business applications alike. VOIP was traditionally deployed using IP services to connect with private branch exchanges, but more recently, the term is used almost interchangeably with IP telephony.
VOIP is possible because of various technologies and methodologies that deliver voice communications, such as simple incoming calls, over an Internet connection. This can occur on local area networks (LAN) or wide area networks (WAN), and only requires the user to have an endpoint device capable of receiving phone calls. This includes VOIP phones, softphone applications running on a PC with VOIP software, and mobile devices.
How does a VOIP Phone Work?
Call it IP telephony, internet telephony, or broadband internet phone service, but at the end of the day, VOIP is simply a technology set that allows individuals to make phone calls at anytime from anywhere using an internet-connected computer. VoIP services work by converting the sound of someone’s voice into a digital signal that is transmitted using computer networks. When a user picks up the phone to make a call, the sound of their voice is packaged into digital data packets that are transmitted via the internet to a user on the other end.
What is an IP Address?
The term IP address stands for internet Protocol address. The latter part of this term refers to the unique number that is linked to individual online activity from a particular internet connection. One could think of an IP address like the return address on an envelope as it allows online activity to be traced back to its origin as a result of its unique number. An IP address is assigned to devices by the internet provider and computers follow built-in networking standards and rules (protocols) to connect to the internet so information and data can flow back and forth.
How do VOIP Phones Work Compared to a Landline Phone?
Traditional landline voice services are limited by the connectivity of telephone lines. In order for an older analog phone to make a connection, whether it is across town or long distance, there must be a physical network of connections that ensure the sound of a voice can travel from point A to point B. These circuit-switched networks require a great deal of investment by service providers and end-users. Phone lines have to be run across the country and around the world, and each user must have a phone in hand for phone calls to be completed.
VOIP eliminates these hurdles by taking advantage of the broader reach of internet connectivity, while reducing costs. A business, for example, can have more than just one phone connected per internet connection to provide phone service for all employees within a single location. By contrast, a traditional line phone service would require running physical wires to each job site and individual workstation. The only thing VOIP requires is an internet connection for phone service to operate efficiently.
A VOIP phone can be hardware-based or software-based in nature. A hardware-based VOIP phone looks just like a traditional handset. It boasts similar features to the desk phone employees are already accustomed to using, such as speakerphone, caller ID display, and a touchpad. Additional features include voicemail, call conferencing, and call transfer. Another type of VOIP phone is known as a softphone. These devices use VOIP software to enable phone communications. This can be installed on a computer or mobile device and offers an interface much like a traditional phone handset.