Voice over IP or VoIP technology refers to the delivery of voice communications via internet networks. VoIP is much less expensive than traditional phone systems, yet provides as good, if not better connectivity.
When someone wonders ‘how does VoIP work‘, the easiest definition is via a computer and IP protocol. This is a simple explanation, though. VoIP calls consist of signaling, encoding, setting up channels, and digitizing analog phone signals.
VoIP signals, instead of being transmitted over a circuit switched network, are digitized, packeted, and transmitted as an IP packet over a packet switched network. These types of transmissions can take up a great deal of resources and must be carefully monitored when using time division multiplexing, or TDM networks.
The early VoIP provider services often mirrored traditional architecture. Current technology provides much more flexibility and many more options. Service providers such as Skype & magicJack offer closed networks which cater to private users, but still the ease and convenience of very cheap calls. These types of service providers may charge for access or connections to other communication networks.
This limits the ability of its users to mix and match between third party software and hardware. Third generation VoIP providers typically use federated VoIP which allows dynamic interaction and communication between users, even if they are on different domains.
VoIP systems use special encoding for video, voice, and audio to enable delivery by digital media. Depending upon available bandwidth and the requirements of the application, some communications must be compressed to fit narrow bandwidth.
In 2004, mass market VoIP services started using existing broadband internet infrastructure to place and receive calls. Subscribers could use these systems much like they did the traditional public switched telephone network or PSTN.
VoIP service providers who provide full service operations will give their customers both inbound and outbound calling, along with inbound direct dialing. Many of these service providers also charge a flat fee for unlimited calling each month. Some even offer international calls to certain countries. Calls between service subscribers are typically free, even internationally.
It is necessary to have a VoIP enabled phone to set up a VoIP system. This can be a computer with audio and a microphone or an actual phone provided by a VoIP service provider. The phone is connected to the IP network via either wireless or Ethernet.
If a subscriber wants to use their own landline or analog phone, the service provider can provide an adapter which will connect their phone to the internet network. There are cable modems and internet gateways which have this technology already built-in.
If a computer is equipped with a speaker or headset and a microphone, the subscriber just needs to install a softphone application. This software provides a dial pad and display so the user may make their calls.
Using VoIP can help decrease communication costs, while still providing the ability to quickly and effectively place calls all over the world. Some areas of the communication network are less reliable than others, especially if bandwidth is too narrow.
Since 2007, VoIP services have included number portability where a new subscriber can keep their number as they move from VoIP service provider to provider. The former carrier must map the number to a new number assigned by the new service provider. This is a process is transparent to the subscriber.
In answer to the question of how does VoIP work, VoIP is an easy, portable, and affordable way to make calls all over the world. Using existing infrastructure and equipment makes VoIP technology a very good way to communicate, both personally and for business.