Voice over IP, or VoIP, is short for Voice over Internet Protocol and refers to the transmission of voice traffic over an internet connection. Traditional telephony, known as the Public Switched Telephone Network or PSTN for short, works through physical phone lines, cable systems and networks and allows users to make landline and cellular telephone calls. IP telephony, however, is much more versatile and enables voice, data, and video to be transmitted to a variety of devices including smartphones, laptops, tablets, and IP phones at a much lower cost.
There are a variety of applications and software communications systems that utilize Voice over IP to offer full featured business communications solutions as well as internet telephony for personal use. Examples of such products include 3CX, which offers a company communications system integrating voice, video, chat and more. Most modern device manufacturers, like Apple, have integrated native IP apps into their smartphones, such as Apple FaceTime which provides call and video functionality.
How does it work?
Voice over IP converts data, such as voice or video, into a digital signal and transfers it over the internet as digital data packets. In order to use VoIP technology, you need a VoIP service or application to facilitate the calls, internet access, and a SIP trunk or VoIP provider. Some broadband or telephony providers offer IP telephony as standard or alongside traditional PSTN services. However, most telco providers are gradually making the switch to all IP. In the case that your regular phone service provider offers VoIP solutions, you won’t need to employ a separate SIP trunk or VoIP provider.
Using packet-switched technology to transmit voice, VoIP uses a series of protocols to facilitate calls. These include the RTP (Real Time Transport) protocol which defines a standard packet format in order to deliver media over the internet. Additionally, SIP (Session Initiation Protocol) is a signaling protocol used to establish, maintain and terminate a session between 2 or more participants. Voice and video data is broken down into packets which are sent over the internet and then reconstructed to be delivered in real-time as the original voice or video message.
What are the benefits of Voice over IP?
VoIP can facilitate tasks and deliver features and functionality that might be cumbersome or costly to implement when using traditional PSTN.