VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol)
VoIP stands for Voice over Internet Protocol. It is also referred to as IP Telephony, Internet Telephony, and Internet Calling. It is an alternative way of making phone calls that can be very cheap or completely free. The ‘phone’ part is not always present anymore, as you can communicate without a telephone set. VoIP has been named the most successful technology of the last decade.
VoIP has a lot of advantages over the traditional phone system. The main reason for which people are so massively turning to VoIP technology is the cost. In businesses, VoIP is a way to cut down communication cost, add more features to communication and interaction between employees and with customers so that to render the system more efficient and of better quality. For individuals, VoIP is not only the things that have revolutionized voice calling worldwide, but it is also a means to have fun communicating through computers and mobile devices for free.
The interesting thing about VoIP is that there is not just one way to place a call. There are three different “Methods” of VoIP service in common use today:
- ATA — The simplest and most common way is through the use of a device called an ATA (analog telephone adaptor). The ATA allows you to connect a standard phone to your computer or your Internet connection for use with VoIP. The ATA is an analog-to-digital converter. It takes the analog signal from your traditional phone and converts it into digital data for transmission over the Internet. Providers like Vonage and AT&T CallVantage are bundling ATAs free with their service. You simply crack the ATA out of the box, plug the cable from your phone that would normally go in the wall socket into the ATA, and you’re ready to make VoIP calls. Some ATAs may ship with additional software that is loaded onto the host computer to configure it; but in any case, it’s a very straightforward setup.
- IP Phones — These specialized phones look just like normal phones with a handset, cradle and buttons. But instead of having the standard RJ-11 phone connectors, IP phones have an RJ-45 Ethernet connector. IP phones connect directly to your router and have all the hardware and software necessary right onboard to handle the IP call. Wi-Fi phones allow subscribing callers to make VoIP calls from any Wi-Fi hot spot.
- Computer-to-computer — This is certainly the easiest way to use VoIP. You don’t even have to pay for long-distance calls. There are several companies offering free or very low-cost software that you can use for this type of VoIP. All you need is the software, a microphone, speakers, a sound card and an Internet connection, preferably a fast one like you would get through a cable or DSL modem. Except for your normal monthly ISP fee, there is usually no charge for computer-to-computer calls, no matter the distance.
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