What is VoIP?
- VoIP stands for Voice over Internet Protocol. It is also called Internet telephony. VoIP takes a voice signal, converts it to digital data and uses the Internet to transfer this data to a receiving device which converts this voice data back into audio. This technology allows for superior quality audio to be transmitted at relatively low cost for users who already have a broadband Internet connection.
- As of 2010, VoIP is used extensively for business phone systems, allowing employees to make and receive phone calls, check voice mail and digitally record conversations from their computers as well as their phones. Digital home phone service is used by many people as an affordable phone line that includes advanced features such as voice mail, conference calling and caller ID.
- As of 2010, there are two types of VoIP: Internet telephone service (also known as digital telephone service) and computer-to-computer calling. People with Internet telephone service can place and receive calls to any telephone, regardless of whether the other party has digital phone service. Computer-to-computer calling, also known as voice chat, is limited to Internet users who are using the same application.
- VoIP has better sound quality than traditional telephone technology because voice data is transmitted via the Internet rather than standard copper wires. VoIP users can take their phone number wherever they go because it is not tied to a physical exchange. VoIP solutions are often more cost-effective for users who make a lot of long distance calls. As of 2010, digital phone providers generally charge a flat rate for service that includes unlimited long distance in North America and all or part of Europe.
- VoIP requires a broadband Internet connection because the slower speeds of dial-up Internet are unsuited for both digital telephone service and computer-to-computer calling. Not all computer-to-computer calling software has the capability to place calls to telephones, and those that do offer the service as a premium upgrade.
- The equipment for VoIP can vary, depending on the implementation. For basic home telephone VoIP service, users will require a gateway and sometimes VoIP-compatible telephones in addition to a broadband Internet connection. Computer-to-computer calling requires software to be installed on a computer or a compatible device. The computer must also have a compatible sound card as well as speakers or headphones and a microphone.