In a world where things happen pretty quickly, there is a quiet storm brewing around the world. Ten or more years in the making, Voice over IP or VoIP, is the new paradigm shift in communication. Having its debut in Israel, and much of its recent activities in the US, voip is about to take the communication world by storm.
But what is VoIP you may ask?
VoIP stands for Voice Over Internet Protocol. Even though the name sounds exotic, voip is really simple. It is a way of transmitting voice data over the internet from point A to point B or more plainly, a way of making calls using the internet.
What do I need to do that?
The answer to that is that it depends. But regardless of what method or system you employ, some basic hardware are needed. These are a broadband internet access and a computer, and depending on your service, an ATA adaptor, an IP phone, a speaker, a modem, or a regular phone.
How does it work?
Doing a voip call can be as familiar as picking up the phone and dialing the numbers. It can also be as novel as pluging your earphone and typing your numbers. Which way you go will
depend largely on your service.
VoIP-ing with ATA adaptors
ATA adaptors provide one common way to use VoIP. But what is an ATA. It is an adaptor that converts the analog signal that is generated by your standard phone into a digital signal. It is this digital signal that is then sent over the internet. Signals are sent out in packets. These packets are reassembled at the other end and converted back into analog for the receiving phone.
How does this happen? The adaptor makes it possible for the user to connect a regular phone to the computer and then to the internet. In some instances, it may be necessary to install some software to be able to make calls. Having done that, you are ready to make calls as with your regular phone.
Voip-ing with IP phones
IP phones have the feel and look of a normal telephone. IP phones are different in that all the bells and whistles are programed into the phone. Also instead of pluging to a wall like a regular phone, IP phones plug into a router using an Ethernet connector. This feature saves you the trouble of software installation and also provides portability, since you can use your IP phone from other locations providing the same service.
Voip-ing between computers
VoIP calls can be between two computers. This is called a computer-to-computer call.
To do a computer-to-computer call, it is not necessary to have a service provider or a calling plan. What is needed is a good Voip software such as Skype, a broadband or DSL internet connection, a speaker and a sound card.
The VoIP software is what makes the connections and transmission possible. In most cases, these sofwares can be picked up for free on the internet.
Except for the cost of purchasing your hardware and accessories and the cost of your internet access, there are no other costs associated with making these calls, regardless of how many you make or how long they are. This makes these computer-to-computer calls virtually free.
What is good about VoIP?
Have you noticed how you can never know or understand all the charges that come with your regular telephone service? VoIP is not anywhere near as bad. Because the internet is a global thing, VoIP is not regulated by the FCC. As a result, it is not taxed the way the standard telephones are taxed. Instead, providers assess fees for access time for network use, and routing through landlines, usually for last miles. But this is not anywhere near the outrageous taxes assessed on standard landlines and usually, no one understands.
Depending on your VoIP plan, it is possible to talk for as long as you wish, without encuring any additional charges, other than your regular service fee.
In addition, you can have several people on the same call from different parts of the world and still encure no additional charges.
Also, because you can use your broadband connection for telephony, there it may not be necessary to maintain a phone line just to make calls. This will save you money that otherwise would go to pay for the telephone line. This is because you will be making your calls through your broadband internet connection.
In most cases, the quality of the call is comparable or better than regular phone.
Furthermore, with the advent of Broadband over Power Lines, BPL, there may not even be a need for cable and DSL, as your power line becomes your high speed connection to the internet.
And unlike landlines, VoIP has the potential for portability.
What is bad about VoIP?
There are some not so pleasant things about Voice over IP phones.
VoIP services as at present do not always connect directly to 911
emergencey services. This can creat unpleasant emergency situations. The FCC is however laying the ground rules to make 911 emergency connections a standard feature of VoIP
On July 29,2005, the FCC issued an order, requiring all interconnected voip service providers to issue a warning to their subscribers, receive and document acknowledgement from subscribers of their awareness of the risks of not having E911 as part of their voip services.
Another bigh issue with voip is security. Because the present security applications such as firewalls were not created with VoIP in mind, they do not provide adequate protection, thereby making voip vulnerable to attacks by unscrupulous elements.
Power outage is another challenge as not all voip services remain functional during power outages.
And finally, directory assistance and white page listings are not usually standard
features of VoIP services.