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How Does VoIP Work: Getting the Answer

May 13, 2008
Like many people, you may have already heard of VoIP. But how does VoIP work? If you weren't born in this decade, you may still wonder what it really is. What can VoIP do for you and how exactly is it useful?

Basic Concept

VoIP stands for voice over internet protocol. These days, it is considered an alternative to the typical method of communication involving telephones. Instead of using telephone sets that transmit analog signals, VoIP converts these signals to digital chunks. These are reconverted to audio data when it reaches the recipient. The entire transmission happens over the internet. Although VoIP technology is still far from being preferred and considered standard, some people think that VoIP will eventually replace telephones. It could very well be the next step in communications technology.

The Specifics

In order to understand how VoIP works, it's best to understand how typical phone calls first. Regular phone calls make use of what is called circuit switching. When you make a call, your call is passed through a series of switches starting from your phone carrier. Once the other party answers the call, the circuit between the two of you is opened.

VoIP uses packet switching. In this technology, your voice is converted to little packets of data. These packets of data come with their instructions of where they should be sent. They are then sent through a variety of possible routes. They take the nearest router and are passed on to succeeding routers until they reach the recipient. When the packets are received, they are reassembled into a form that can be understood.

Advantages of VoIP

VoIP has more advantages than your ordinary communications devices. VoIP can offer all the features and benefits of a phone service. Its advantage over traditional phones is that VoIP calls can be made from almost any part of the world. Wherever there is an internet connection, you can have VoIP. The technology can provide cheaper calls than standard telephone technology. This is mainly because VoIP does away with costly circuit switching.

Disadvantages of VoIP

Although VoIP is fast, cheap and convenient, it has, however its own disadvantages. These disadvantages are basically due to: (1) the current reliance of present systems on telephone technology; and (2) the shortcomings that plague computer technology.

Telephone Connections - Such services for example as security and cable still rely on telephone connections. Unless the whole country or world agrees to switch to VoIP, these services are likely to stick to their old methods.

This is not the biggest concern though. Since VoIP relies on internet technology, it is also susceptible to the problems that confront the internet and computers. You can therefore expect such problems as viral attacks, crashes and stolen packets.

How does VoIP work? In reality, this piece of technology does hold a lot of potential. Like everything else, the old ways of communicating over long distances can change. VoIP is the first logical shift that can be taken. It may take a long time however, before VoIP can become a fully integrated and snag free system.
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