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What is VoIP and how does it work?

VoIP stands for Voice over Internet Protocol. It refers to making phone calls that are made through the Internet, rather than through a regular landline or a mobile network. A VoIP system works by taking your analogue voice signals, converting them into digital signals, then sending them as data over your broadband line.

It’s a very useful way of making calls – for a start, once it’s set up it’s a lot cheaper than using normal phone lines. It means that, depending on your setup, you may not have to pay for your phone calls based on distance, which country you’re calling, or how much time you spend chatting.

 

Your VoIP system could be:

  • With a phone and a VoIP adapter – Using a special adapter, you can make VoIP calls from a regular old landline phone. These adapters plug into either a phone socket in the wall or into your router.
  • With a computer – There are dozens of programs that let you make voice calls to anyone who also has it installed, including Skype, Google Talk, and Apple FaceTime. Some, such as Skype, can be used to call a regular landline or mobile numbers too. Calling someone else who has the app is free, but calling an actual phone number will usually cost a little.
  • With a smartphone – You can use your smartphone to make voice calls using certain apps. See below for more on how this works.

Some broadband and home phone providers offer VoIP as part of their services so that they may do things a little differently. It’s the standard form of the phone line from a number of FTTP (fibre-to-the-premises) providers, for example, and VoIP is available as part of almost any business broadband or phone package. Either way, your provider will give you all the info you need.

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 there smartphones, such as Apple FaceTime which provides call and video functionality.

The Way it Works

VoIP technology enables traditional telephony services to operate over computer networks using packet-switched protocols. Packet-switched VoIP puts voice signals into packets, similar to an electronic envelope. VoIP packets can be transmitted over any VoIP-compatible network, such as a local area network (LAN).

Not your ordinary telephone service

Because VoIP uses packets, much more information can be carried over the network to support and enhance your communication needs. In addition to traditional voice services, VoIP gives you access to advanced applications that can potentially help your staff be more agile and productive. VoIP solutions aimed at businesses have evolved into unified communications services that treat all communications—phone calls, faxes, voice mail, email, web conferences, and more—as discrete units that can all be delivered via any means and to any handset, including cell phones.