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December 31, 2010

Looking Into A VoIP Broadband Phone? Better Make Sure You Know Just What VoIP Is

You may have heard the term “VoIP” – you might even be considering a VoIP broadband phone system for your office – but do you know exactly what it is? Many still don’t, and if you’re among them, don’t feel bad.

VoIP, or Voice over Internet Protocol, is still relatively young. Introduced to the mass market in the mid-2000s, VoIP is a way to take analog audio signals and transform them into digital data that can be sent via the Internet. VoIP can be used to place calls online that would normally be made with a regular copper-wire phone, meaning the involvement of a traditional phone company can be completely bypassed. To sum up, VoIP has the chance to completely reform the way businesses communicate with one another. More and more businesses are starting to recognize this and are taking on business VoIP service in favor of copper-wire systems.

The roots of VoIP has been in the works since the mid-1970s, but, as mentioned above, it didn’t really start to take hold until about 2004. Since then it’s expanded greatly, and offers several different user interfaces:

-IP phones: These look like regular copper-wire phones, but use an Ethernet cable to connect into the Internet router.
This is one of the more regularly-used VoIP broadband phone services.

– ATA: Analog Telephone Adaptors are another very common VoIP method. An “analog-to-digial” converter, an ATA connects regular phones to computers and/or Internet networks, converting phone signals into digital data that can then be transmitted online.

– Computer-to-Computer: Otherwise known as a “softphone,” this is the simplest and most convenient VoIP method to use. You only need the software, speakers, a microphone, a sound card and Internet connection – and, of course, a computer – and you’re good to go. You also don’t have to pay for calls when you use softphones (even long-distance ones).

Now that you know about the different types of VoIP, you should know that, while there are many advantages to using VoIP (cost-effectiveness being the primary), there are disadvantages as well:

-VoIP service relies on wall power – if the power goes out, the phone system does as well.

-There’s no way to locate a person by their IP address, which would disempower any 911 calls made on VoIP phones.

-VoIP systems can be infected with online worms and viruses. (This is rare, but does happen.)

-The functionality of individual computers can affect the quality of a call. If the person on one end of a call has a slower Internet speed than the person on the other end, the call could break up or be delayed.

These are all issues that are being worked on, and if things progress at the rate they have been, it won’t be too long before VoIP service providers replace traditional copper-wire providers.

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