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What is VoIP and how it works

So as I hopefully will be landing a job with that deals with a lot of VoIP I thought I would give a brief introduction to it.

VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) is simply the transmission of voice traffic over IP-based networks.

The Internet Protocol (IP) was originally designed for data networking. The success of IP in becoming a world standard for data networking has led to its adaptation to voice networking.

Some background history:
Although VoIP has been creating quite a stir in the press recently, it’s actually not a new idea at all. VoIP has been around in one form or another since 1973 when it began as an experiment by the US Department of Defense.

Why VoIP is better ?
The number one reason to switch to VoIP technology , such as MegaPath VoIP services, for telephone service is cost reduction. VoIP has become popular largely because of the cost advantages to consumers over traditional telepone networks. VoIP slashes your monthly phone bill by a whopping fifty percent. Let’s put some light over these claims.
It offers cheaper international long distance rates which are generally one-tenth of what is charged by traditional phone companies. Its portability makes it a very good option and one could avoid expensive hotel phone charges and cell phone roaming charges. What one requires is just a high speed connection where one could plug the adapter into and people could reach you at your local number irrespective of your location.

Most Internet connections are charged using a flat monthly fee structure. Using the Internet connection for both data traffic and voice calls can allow consumers to get rid of one monthly payment. In addition, VoIP plans do not charge a per-minute fee for long distance.

By making VoIP calls using internet enabled cell phones one could avoid wireless roaming fees and long distance rates which generally touch north. Most of the times in-network calls to other VoIP service subscribers are free even if the calling parties are located in different parts of the world.

How does it work?
Just to confuse people, there are many kinds of VoIP. Using voice chat in MSN , G Talk or Yahoo messenger could be regarded as VoIP, so could the highly publicised Skype; but these are all proprietary systems. To talk to someone using MSN, the person at the other end also needs MSN. The same applies to Yahoo and, to a great extent, to Skype. They use their own special system that isn’t open and won’t connect to other systems easily.

True VoIP should really be based on the SIP system which is the recognized standard. Any SIP compatible device can talk to any other; you don’t even use a PC. Any SIP telephone can call another right over the internet, you don’t need any additional equipment or even a phone provider. Just plug your SIP phone into the internet connection, configure it and then dial the other person right over the internet.

In all VoIP systems, your voice is converted into packets of data, like little files, and then transmitted to the recipient over the internet and decoded back into your voice at the other end. To make it quicker, these packets are compressed before transmission, a bit like zipping a file.

Actual Cost of VoIP:
The promise of free international calls whenever you want them probably sounds a little too good to be true – there must be a catch, right? Well, yes and no. Provided you only wish to use VoIP to communicate with other VoIP users, everything is very straightforward. If however you want to be able to use VoIP to make and receive calls to and from people who don’t have VoIP, you’ll need to subscribe to a gateway service that provides a bridge between VoIP and the conventional phone networks.

Getting Started with VoIP :
Getting started with VoIP could hardly be simpler. Assuming you already have the two most important ingredients (a Windows or Mac computer and a broadband Internet connection), all you need to get started is the following:

Some free phone or messaging software.
A microphone.
Headphones or speakers (headphones are best because they won’t cause as much feedback).
An alternative to a microphone and headphones is an integrated headset, as this will leave your hands free.

When it comes to choosing which software to use, it’s worth considering whom you plan to call, since most VoIP software is proprietary. Check with any friends or relatives who already use VoIP and see what they’re using. If you plan to use VoIP to call people who use different software, you may need to install more than one program!
Examples of VoIP software you might choose to use are MSN Messenger, Yahoo Messenger, SkyPe and ICQ, all of which are available as free downloads. All of these are designed to be beginner-friendly, so follow the installation instructions and you’ll be ready to go in a matter of minutes.

So what’s the catch?
Obviously nothing is ever as simple as it sounds. New technologies aren’t perfect and pricing often reflects this, if it wasn’t cheaper nobody would switch.

The main problem with VoIP applications is bandwidth contention. This complicated term isn’t as difficult as it sounds. You might have anything from a 512Kb broadband connection to 8Mb and beyond, dial-up isn’t suitable for VoIP. It doesn’t matter how big this connection is, it can still get busy.

VoIP phone call requires at least 100Kb or dedicated bandwidth and without this, you may find your phone calls less than satisfactory. To resolve this problem, there are now ranges of internet routers to use with your existing cable or DSL connection. These are VoIP aware and will dedicate the bandwidth to your phone call when you need it but free up all the bandwidth for other use when you’re not on the phone. Some VoIP service providers will supply a compatible router with your connection package, it’s essential.

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