VOIP stands for Voice Over Internet Protocol which is technology in which voice communication and multimedia such as voice, fax and sms is delivered over the internet. VOIP may sometimes be referred to as IP telephony, broadband telephony, broadband phone service and internet telephony. The technology that VOIP uses allows users to make free or low cost telephone calls over an internet connection. The processes used to send VOIP are similar to that of digital telephony in that through established channels, analog voice signals are digitalised and encoded to be sent. But, while digital telephony is transmitted over a circuit-switched network, VOIP is transmitted as packets over a packet-switched network. This way, VOIP data is split into smaller portions that are then given identifying information before being transported over the network and reassembled when they reach the receiver. Previously packet switching was rarely used for voice calls because the method of splitting and reassembling the information would seriously affect the quality of the message. However, with improved technologies VOIP quality can exceed that of ordinary telephones.
Online providers of VOIP include Skype and Google Talk among many others which work by providing the user with a software phone or ‘softphone’. However the real benefit of VOIP comes from using specialised VOIP telephone adaptors which enable the user to make free VOIP calls from a handset in the same way that they would from an ordinary telephone without the need of using a PC to connect to the internet. Although the quality of VOIP calls improves dramatically when it is between VOIP phones, it is not necessary for both parties to have a VOIP phone. In this case the quality should be no different than an ordinary telephone call. A VOIP adaptor isn’t tied to a network either, meaning that you can travel with your VOIP adaptor and make free phone calls providing you have access to high speed internet.
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