VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) is a technology for making phone calls over the Internet. VoIP transmits the sounds over the standard Internet infrastructure, using the IP protocol. In VoIP, analog voice is digitized, encoded, packetized, and transmitted as Internet Protocol packet over a packet switched network from the calling side, while from the receiving side IP packet is received, decoded and digital signal is converted to analog signal to reproduce original voice stream.
Since the inception of VoIP technology during mid 1990s, growing number of people have adopted VoIP telephone system to avoid the pricey phone call. The technology that underlay the foundation of VoIP was initially developed in late 1970s, but it took about 20 years to evolve completely to a telephone system from a mere computer novelty. And now, there are hundreds and thousands of people using the technology every day.
It has a lot of advantages over the traditional telephonic system. Cost effectiveness is main reason for which people are switching to VoIP technology.
Use it for FREE! Yes, if you have a computer/laptop with a microphone, and speaker, and a good Internet connection, you can communicate using VoIP for free. VoIP service providers such as Skype is allowing free calls using PC. You can even talk for free with your mobile, tablet, and home phone, if they have Internet functionality.
Make VoIP call everywhere. You can use this technology for making free or cheap calls at home, work, corporate network, during travel, and even on beach and mountain! Turn on your 3G over mobile network and enjoy cheap calling on-the-go!
There is a flat monthly fee structure for most of the Internet connections. One can use the same Internet connection for both data traffic and voice calls, which allow consumers to get rid of one monthly phone bill.
VoIP is relatively new technology and it has achieved wide acceptance and use. Nowadays, VoIP support is available on many smartphones and Internet enabled devices to let users make phone calls over 3G and Wi-Fi. Making VoIP call is relatively cheaper than that of traditional phone calls. Even one can enjoy calling free over the Internet Protocol. Therefore, there is no denying fact that VoIP technology is trending!
Skype has captured a good market share. It is the most popular VoIP service provider, which allows free calls using PC. It is also providing paid services over the IP at very reasonable pricing.
VoIP calls seem thrilling when you consider international calls. Communication costs on international calls can be cut down by 90%. Thanks to VoIP!
Of course, no blessing comes with all fruit juices. So, there are some obstacles associated with VoIP technology, along with numerous advantages. Its increasing worldwide uses have raised the concern of regulation and security.
Vulnerable to attacks: VoIP telephone systems are vulnerable to attacks as are any Internet-connected devices. Hackers can harvest customer data, record conversations and break into voice mailboxes. Therefore, a secure and standardized protocol is very necessary for secure calls. Most of the difficulties lie in creating secure connection. It is necessary to encrypt and authenticate the data stream.
Routing VoIP traffic: Routing VoIP traffic through firewall and network address translator is another challenge. Network routers handle traffic on a first-come, first-served basis. Network routers on high volume traffic links is expected to introduce latency. Skype uses a proprietary protocol to route calls through other Skype peers on the network. Therefore, Skype is safer option to a greater extent, for using VoIP service.
Note: In order to avert the security concerns, government and military organizations are using voice over secure IP (VoSIP), secure voice over IP (SVoIP), and secure voice over secure IP (SVoSIP) to protect confidential VoIP communications. Secure voice over IP is accomplished by encrypting VoIP with Type 1 encryption.
Power back-up: Traditional telephone system are usually connected directly to telephone company phone lines, which provide direct current to basic analog handset. There is no need of independent availability of power locally. While an IP telephone adapters connect to router or cable modem, which depends on the availability local electricity. However, some VoIP service providers use customer premise equipment with battery-backed power supplies to assure uninterrupted service for up to several hours in case of local power failures.
Not reliable for emergency calls: Making an emergency call in emergency hour may not be possible. The nature of IP creates difficulty to locate network geographically and make emergency calls. Sometimes, VoIP systems route emergency calls to a non-emergency phone line at the intended department.
In a country like India, where Internet is not in reach of every head, the concept of VoIP seems not very practical. But it is a blessing for the urban populations, who are in reach of Internet and can enjoy the fruit of VoIP to curtail the phone bills. For international call, VoIP can be very hopeful as international call rate is very costly through traditional telephone system, PSTN (public switched telephone network).