The technology that converts analog voice signals to a digital format is called VoIP. This technology allows us to make a telephone call directly from different devices such as a computer, a VoIP phone or other devices that are data driven. Thus your voice can be transmitted over the Internet and, in simple words, and there can be phone services delivered over the Internet. Other names for this technology include broadband telephony and Internet telephony.
This revolutionary technology can change the way in which the world currently views telephony and the world’s different phone systems. This technology is being foreseen as one having the capacity to replace the traditional phone system in its entirety. Vonage is a company that has been providing VoIP services for some time now. Other carriers stepping in are AT&T and FCC.
VoIP – How it Works
Traditional phone systems use the circuit-switching method to transmit analog voice signals. This system has been in use for more than a hundred years. When a call is made between two points, a connection is maintained between these two points for the duration of the call. When the call ends the two lines are freed along with many switches in between that were connected. This is a reliable method of transmission but inefficient.
When the VoIP technology is used, traditional phone signals are converted into a digital format and are transmitted over computer networks by using packet-switching protocols. Voice signals are transmitted in the form of packets over the computer network such as local area networks (LANs). The technology enables high volumes of data to be carried over the Internet with the result that it enhances the communications over the network. As an example, all types of communications including voice mails, faxes, emails, etc., can be transmitted as discrete packet units and delivered to any compatible device including mobile handsets.
When the packet switching technology is used, it is not routed through a dedicated line but the data flows through a complicated network of thousands of paths. When the destination computer receives all the packets that make up the message, all of which have taken different paths to arrive there, the instructions within the packets are used to reassemble the packets of information into the original message.
VoIP – Different Types of Services Used Today
This is the simplest method that is in use today. The ATA expands to analog telephone adapter. This adapter helps to connect the regular phone to a computer or any Internet connection so that it can be used for VoIP. This covers the analog voice signals to its corresponding digital form. Some telephone service providers are now offering ATAs free along with the telephone service (AT&T CallVantage, Vonage). The telephone cable simply needs to be connected to the ATA to make VoIP calls. There are a few ATAs that have some software that needs to be installed before use. However, the setup is always simple.
In appearance, these phones look similar to the traditional telephones with the handset, the cradle and the buttons. However, instead of the normal RJ-11 jack that is found in the regular telephone, IP phones have the RJ-45 Ethernet connector that is present. This helps to connect the phone directly to the router and also have the requisite software for an IP call. WI-Fi phones enable the users to make VoIP calls from a Wi-Fi hotspot.
Computer to Computer
This being one of the easiest and most convenient ways to use VoIP, it involves setting up of software in the computers that you already have. The low cost software enables free calls from one computer to another. The hardware includes a microphone, sound card and speakers. The computer should have a reliable Internet connection with enough speed. The only charges will be for the Internet data plan and no cost whatsoever for the calls, no matter what the distance may be.
Phone companies are already using VoIP for long distance calls. Millions of long-distance phone calls that they receive are routed through IP gateways as packets. This helps to reduce the bandwidth demand. The gateway at the receiving end decompresses the packet data, reassembles it and routes it through a local telephone line. It is predicted that eventually all of the traditional telephone lines will be replaced using packet switching networks and related hardware. The biggest advantages seen with VoIP when compared with traditional phone lines are flexibility and the costs.
With VoIP, a call can be made from just about any place where there is broadband connectivity. If you are a person that is always on the move, all you need to do is to carry your ATA along or load the relevant software into your notebook or laptop computer. With a headset and a microphone pickup, you can make a call to anywhere in the world with VoIP.
Many VoIP service providers are offering plans to subscribers for very cheap rates (at only $30/month). The extra features that VoIP service providers give the subscribers include call waiting facility, caller id, call transfer facility, redial facility, etc. Advanced call filtering options include forwarding the call to another telephone number, forwarding the call directly to voice mail, busy tone to the caller, among others. The traditional phone companies charge an extra amount for adding these features to the service plan. Using VoIP therefore means a considerable amount that can be saved.
Advantages of Using VoIP
There are many advantages that a packet switching network has over a circuit switching network. Packet switching allows a number of calls to occupy an amount of space that is occupied by just one call in a circuit switching network. If a call sent through a circuit switching network would require 10 minutes of transmission time at 128 Kbps, the same call can be routed in just 3.5 minutes of transmission time at just half the cost of 64Kbps through a packet switching circuit. With data compression, a large number of calls can be transmitted in the same time.
It may be very soon that traditional telephony may be completely replaced with VoIP technology where copper wires and handsets may be non-existent.