I never thought I would see the day when the telephone became a tried, old thing of the past, but it seems that it has indeed become so. One may think the new technology is the wireless phone, but even cell phones have been one upped by a new technology called voice over Internet protocol, or VOIP. VOIP is used to transmit phone calls over the internet and is the latest way for low cost international communication. This technology routs voice conversations over the internet instead of through a phone line or wireless network.
Now you can check your e-mail, be on Instant Messenger and talk to some one on the phone, right from your computer. To use VOIP, a broadband Internet connection is required and it can also work in mobile phones that have high speed networks. VOIP can be transmitted over any IP network, even one that does not have connection to the rest of the internet such as local area networks.
This service works well for businesses as it allows for free calling within their network. One of the companies that provides VOIP, Skype, offer the ability to make free phone calls between computers. However, fixed-line phone companies are not happy about VOIP as it has taken a lot of their phone traffics. Under the VOIP umbrella there are two different types of VOIP services that can be implemented through public switched telephone networks (PSTN).
The first of these is DID, which connects a caller to the VOIP user. The second type, access numbers, simply requires the caller to submit the extension number of the VOIP user in order to be connected. In most cases, VOIP used through access numbers are charged to the caller as a local call and are of no cost whatsoever to the VOIP user.
DID users pay a monthly fee, but there are also some DID that pose no cost to the VOIP users but charge the caller. It seems as though the benefits of VOIP are endless. Such a calling systems radically reduces the cost of international calls since calling becomes roughly the same as sending an e-mail. No extra costs are implemented beyond the cost of an internet provider.
Another carrier of VOIP, 3 Italia, offers tariffs of $0.05 an hour and allows those subscribed to call fixed telephone lines in countries such as Japan, China, Australia and most of Western Europe. VOIP is also easy, allowing incoming phone calls to be automatically transmitted to your VOIP phone no matter where you are connected to the VOIP network.
If you wish to take your VOIP phone on vacation with you, all you need to do in connect to the Internet in order to receive incoming calls. Such versatility allows for connection anywhere with a fast enough Internet connection. Also, there is no need to worry about losing all your favorite features by switching to a VOIP phone. Call forwarding, automatic redial, 3-way calling and other traditionally fixed-line features are also available with VOIP.
It is also possible to obtain Instant Messenger based VOIP, allowing you to receive calls directly from IM. VOIP can easily integrate with other Internet services as well, such as video conversation, audio conferencing, and managing address books. The most frequent users of VOIP tend to be travelers and migrant workers usually who do not have a fixed or mobile phone. Using VOIP helps such users cut down on overseas roaming charges.
Pre-Paid phone cards are also available to use VOIP from a regular phone or from Internet Cafes with phone services. However, VOIP is not with out certain disadvantages. Unlike many fixed and mobile phones, VOIP does not provide any quality of service guarantees, meaning that there is no guarantee that data packets will be delivered in the order in which they were transmitted. Also, many VOIP users have slight problems with latency and jitter, especially when satellite circuits become involved. Another problem arises when VOIP encounters firewalls or address translators.
The signals can become scrambled or stopped altogether. However, Skype offers the ability to get through such problems. Congestion can also become a problem, but this can be controlled by traffic engineering provided by most VOIP services.
Unlike wireless and fixed-line phones, loss of power will also affect VOIP. Generators or any other means of supplying an uninterruptible power supply can fix this issue. Another issue found with VOIP is the problem of eavesdropping.
Most VOIP solutions do not contain the ability to use encryption, making it fairly easy for others to listen in on VOIP supported conversations. Finally, emergency calling can be a problem when done via VOIP as it is impossible to pin point the location from which the call in coming. A deadline to implement E911 in all VOIP phones is quickly approaching, however many VOIP companies are appealing the implementation.
Full of its benefits and downfalls, it seems as though VOIP may be just as helpful and detrimental as mobile and fixed-line phones, However, that does not stop the masses of people switching over to VOIP use, if only for business. It seems as thought VOIP is the wave of the future and it will only be a matter of time before I too can be chatting in a secluded area with friends overseas while playing solitaire on the PC. I certainly hope VOIP comes around soon, my secluded area solitaire skills need some practice.
All research from http://www.wikipedia.org.
Sarah Deak is a contributing business writer for http://goliath.ecnext.com. Goliath is one of the Internet's largest collections of business research, news and information.