Have we ever realized how much will be benefited by VoIP technology? Personally I am very thankful to VoIP, as I am (staying in US) far from my parents and in-laws, but I can talk to them in India for about half an hour or more (depends on them and me), without costing so much. Simply we need computer, sound card, speakers and microphone.
What is VoIP anyway? If you are new to VoIP and want to get basic understanding of how it works, how will you get benefited by VoIP solution as a customer then this article is for you.
Let's get started. VoIP is a technology that allows us to make phone calls over a broadband Internet connection as opposed to traditional analog phone lines. In simple terms it makes our computer or laptop as telephone.
How does VoIP work? Before going to basics of VoIP technology, lets take a look on how our 100-year-old traditional telephone system works.
Traditional telephone system works on circuit switching, means when a call is made a connection is set up between source and destination, in both directions, and it is maintained till duration of call. This is a dual directional i.e. we are connecting two ports in both directions, so it will make a circuit.
There is one drawback in this system, i.e. the telephone line cannot distinguish between useful talking and silence. Like if conversation is going on between two persons then one will be talking and other will be silent, so half of the transmission data is wasted in this case. Apart from this, there are many instances when there is pause between conversation that silence is also treated as data and its transmission is a waste. So if we can handle these two issues that is if we can transmit only useful data and remove unwanted instances then we can cut data transmission by more then half.
VoIP technology took care of this drawback, so it uses packet switching, in this case it opens connection just long enough to send bits of useful data called packet from one system to another. This scenario is same as your computer is making connection to any website, as and when it is required, otherwise internet connection will be very slow, if it will constantly maintain connection with any web page.
This type of system allows the network to send our call (in packet) along the least congested and cheapest line available, we can say that about 3 to 4 calls from a VoIP system could fit in the space of our call from a circuit switch system. This is the basic reason why VoIP is cheaper then conventional calling plans.
There are different types of VoIP calling some of them are mentioned below.
- ATA (Analog Telephone Adaptor) this adaptor enables us to make use of standard telephone for VoIP options, it actually allows to connect phone that is already at our home to our computer internet connection .ATA converts analog signal to digital signal, that can be easily transmitted through internet.
- The next type of calling is through IP phones; they look just like our normal phones with same buttons. This only difference is they replace old style wall jack connector with Ethernet connectors, so it gets plugged directly into the router.
- The most common type of calling is from computer-to-computer. This is the simplest and cheapest way to use VoIP. These calls are entirely free, only thing you need software that you can download from Internet, a broadband or DSL connection, microphone, speaker and sound card.
- The latest technology that is emerging in the market and gaining popularity is Wi-Fi phones. This hybrid-Phone let people make connections using a local wireless Internet access point seamlessly switch over to a cell network whenever necessary.
Other than saving money there are more benefits from using VoIP system. What all benefits you get depend on provider also, some of the benefits are listed below.
- Much cheaper long distance and international calls.
- Many features (depends on provider) like Email alert for new voicemail, web access to voicemail, auto forward, caller ID, call waiting caller ID, call forwarding etc.
- Flexibility, some explanation needed here. When we use VoIP phone service, our phone number is programmed into the converter, so we can take our converter and phone number anywhere in the world we want. As long as we have access to Internet connection we can use our phone number. We have option to choose area code for our phone number. Some providers allow us to have more then one phone number in different area codes, this means we get extra numbers that rings the same phone. These numbers are known as Virtual Phone Numbers. One advantage here is these numbers are local number to any area code; here we will be saving money. How? Suppose you go to some other city where you have many friends and family then they can call you on a local number, instead of paying for long distance charges to contact us.
There are many providers in the market with their own strength. As the technology is growing fast and incredible amount of work is dedicated to VoIP, some of the disadvantages that are associated with VoIP are going to resolve within next few years, it is expected that after some time VoIP will have widespread consumer acceptance.
More Articles by Ruchi Gupta 2006-04-01 Ruchi Gupta