By Ron King
You've probably heard about Voice over Internet Protocol (abbreviated VoIP or VOIP). It is one of the hottest computer technologies today.
VoIP was developed to provide voice communication between computer users at different locations. Although still used in this manner, it's been developed much further -- into a full-fledged telephone network that allows us to place telephone calls through the Internet.
People who use VoIP can place calls to any telephone anywhere in the world. The calls are received on telephone sets connected to the Internet or Local Area Network (LAN). VoIP is already replacing some telephone networks with people and businesses canceling their traditional phone lines in favor of the cost savings of VoIP.
Israeli computer enthusiasts were the first to make computer-to-computer voice connections back in 1995. That same year, the technology was further developed into a software package called Internet Phone Software. All you needed to speak with another computer user then was a modem, sound card, speakers, and microphone.
The software digitized and compressed audio signals before sending them over the Internet. These voice connections only occurred between computers equipped with the software. The original sound quality was very poor.
Technology progressed. By 1998 gateways had been established allowing PC-to-phone connections. Later that year phone-to-phone connections using the Internet for voice transmission were in place. Phone-to-phone connections still required a computer to initiate the call, but once the connection was established, callers could use a standard phone set.
That Was Then -- This Is Now
There are now a variety of VoIP services available, for both residential and commercial use. Some continue to rely on PC-to-PC connections, but may also offer PC-to-phone and phone-to-phone services.
There are phones that plug into a sound card or USB port of a computer. These phones may have number pads and ringers that allow you to use them just like conventional telephones. The computer can even be bypassed completely by connecting a phone directly to a broadband modem (either DSL or cable).
How Does VoIP Work?
The first step in using VoIP is converting your voice into digital data. This is done by 'sampling' your voice. The analog sound signal is divided into distinct steps that can be assigned number values. After your voice is digitized, the data can be compressed.
The compressed digital data is then split into 'packets' of about 1500 bytes that can be transferred via the Internet. In addition to voice data, the packets contain information about their origin, destination, and a time-stamp that permits a reconstruction in the exact order. When the packets arrive at their destination, the data are reassembled and converted back to analog. The receiving party then -- voila -- hears your voice.
A broadband Internet connection, however, is needed to speed up voice data transmission. Many households and businesses are already using broadband, either DSL or cable, which makes adding VoIP fairly simple.
So, if saving money is on your To Do list for this year, check out VoIP.
About the Author: Ron King is a full-time researcher, writer, and web developer. Visit http://www.voip-solutions-now.com to learn more about this subject. Copyright 2005 Ron King.