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What Is VoIP?

Written by Jacob C. Herman

The internet has become integral to everyday life. Most people don't go a day without logging onto their computers to access the internet. As if people are not spending enough time online, there's now a way to use the internet to talk on the telephone and handle voicemails. It's a new technology called VoIP.

VoIP stands for "Voice Over Internet Protocol." It's also known as broadband telephony, broadband phone, IP telephony, and virtual phone. VoIP works by converting sound into digital data and then sending them in packets over the internet. Starting in 2004, providers began offering VoIP services to the general public.

VoIP users pay a monthly fee that covers all of their phone calls no matter the time of day. There are no unexpected fees or charges and most providers offer unlimited calling. International and long distance calls are almost all significantly cheaper than regular phone calls. It doesn't matter whether you are calling Mexico or Timbuktu from California or Berlin. There are no taxes on your calls.

VoIP has many great user features. You can store incoming calls to local voice mail and send a voice mail as an email attachment, even handle multiple calls with a call center. You can use VoIP for 3-way calling or even web conferencing. VoIP is also ideal for setting up an office intranet in a small or medium firm. Other regular phone features like caller ID and call waiting are available too.

Anyone who switches to VoIP needs an additional piece of equipment to make it work – an Analog Telephone Adaptor or ATA. Most VoIP service providers will supply the ATA when the customer signs up for the service. The box allows people to continue making phone calls by using existing phones. Its function is to convert the conversation into a digital symbol that the internet can "understand." That digital signal is then sent on to the broadband modem and passed along to the internet. The great thing is that it doesn't interfere with regular internet browsing. For people with multiple phones, it's recommended that they use wireless phones with the base station plugged directly into the ATA box. If people have multiple PCs in their home, the box should be hooked up to the router.

They also have dedicated VoIP phones that connect directly to an IP network using Wi-Fi. It works the same way once it's connected to the network. A digital phone can also be installed on a computer that allows VoIP calling. The only possible drawback with VoIP is that you have to always have a running internet service. If your internet gets shut off or it's experiencing technical difficulties, the phone service goes down as well.

VoIP is uniquely diverse in that anyone can use it. Businesses will find its capabilities more than adequate especially if they do a lot of international communication. VoIP allows a business to utilize a virtual pbx, voicemail, and live answering service all with the same phone number. VoIP web conference allows up to 60 users to participate at one time and it can support an office intranet sufficiently. Colleges offering online courses or online tuition centers will also find VoIP to be more cost effective than conventional telephone services.

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