The Quick Start Guide to VOIP for the Home, Home Office, and Small Business

IP Telephony Solutions Bring Cheap and Easy Calling to the Masses

IP telephony solutions offer long distance calling at a fraction of the cost of a traditional phone network. Some types of calls are even free.

IP telephony based on Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) technology is growing at a very rapid rate, and many traditional telephone companies are looking at ways to offer broadband internet phone service rather than lose customers. The solution is especially beneficial for those of us who make lots of long distance calls.

The Internet Protocol was initially designed for sending data on a real time basis from one computer to another. The data is broken into packets, assigned an IP number to each packet and then transmitted over the IP network. Initially the data was limited to text; now Internet Protocol can handle audio and video data too.

However, the packets are not sent in a sequence. They are even routed across different paths to avoid congestion. This may not matter for e-mail, but it makes a big difference for real-time audio and video applications. For a conversation to be possible, the data packets have to arrive in the right order, and on time. That is why the first voice services were not of a good quality. The conversation would often break down on account of buffering. High-speed data links on large bandwidth pipes today have resolved this issue.

High speed Internet connections have also taken care of latency issues. The voice data can now move swiftly from one network to another, even from IP networks to conventional phone lines, and back. The phone users are not even aware of the number of networks traversed by the data before landing in their handsets. There is generally limited data fragmentation or time lag in communicating.

Security is an important issue and VoIP systems have to deal with Network Address Translation systems (NATs) and firewalls. Some VoIP systems can do NAT and firewall traversal, though others need to use SBCs (Session Border Controllers) for this.

However, IP telephony solutions are getting better with every passing day. VoIP service providers like Vonage and Packet8 can offer feature rich services to customers while keeping operating costs down. This is a great advantage that VoIP companies have over traditional carriers. On an average, the phone bill of a customer who has moved from a traditional phone company to a VoIP company falls by 50 to 75 per cent. This is a huge saving, and is encouraging more and more customers to migrate to VoIP companies.

 

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