What is VoIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) and how does it work?

19 Jul 2021

Forget copper wires and handsets. Today you can make phone calls anytime, anywhere using an Internet-connected computer, a headset, and voice over IP (VoIP).

What is VoIP

VoIP (voice over Internet Protocol) is the transmission of voice and multimedia content over an internet connection. VoIP allows users to make voice calls from a computer, smartphone, other mobile devices, special VoIP phones, and WebRTC-enabled browsers. VoIP is a technology useful for both consumers and businesses, as it typically includes other features that can’t be found on common phone services. These features can include call recording, custom caller ID, or voicemail to e-mail. It is also helpful to organizations as a way to unify communications.

The process works similarly to a normal mobile phone, but VoIP uses an internet connection instead of a telephone company’s wiring. VoIP is enabled by a group of technologies and methodologies used to deliver voice communications over the internet, including enterprise local area networks or wide area networks. A VoIP service will convert a user’s voice from audio signals to digital data, then send that data through the internet. If another user is calling from a regular phone number, the signal is converted back to a telephone signal before it reaches that user.

VoIP can also perform routing of incoming and outgoing calls through existing telephone networks. However, some VoIP services may only work over a computer or VoIP phone.

VoIP in unified communications

VoIP combines communication innovations into one unified system — meaning that VoIP can permit for a number of audio, video, or text-based communication ways. This can be useful for businesses, so teams don’t have to work with multiple different applications to communicate with one another efficiently.

VoIP makes this network by permitting users to make calls and hold web conferences using devices like computers, smartphones, or other mobile devices.

Few Similar features might include:

  • Video calls;
  • Audio calls;
  • Instant messaging;
  • SMS texts;
  • Voicemail;
  • Team chats;
  • Email;
  • Mobile and desktop apps;
  • Mobile and local number portability (permits a user to choose a new telephone carrier without needing a new number).

VoIP equipment

Types of VoIP

  • Hardware-based : A hardware-based VoIP phone looks like a traditional hard-wired or cordless telephone and includes similar features, for example a speaker or microphone, a touchpad and a caller ID display. VoIP phones can also provide voicemail, call conferencing and call transfer.
  • Software-based: Software-based IP (Internet Protocol) phones, also known as softphones, are software clients installed on a computer or mobile device. The softphone user interface often looks like a telephone handset with a touchpad and caller ID display. A headset equipped with a microphone connects to the computer or mobile device to make calls.

How do VoIP works?

VoIP services convert a client’s voice from sound signals to digital data, wherein that information is then sent to another user – or gathering of users – over Ethernet or Wi-Fi. To achieve this, VoIP will utilize codecs. Codecs are either hardware or software-based interaction that compresses and decompresses a lot of VoIP data. Voice quality may endure when compression is utilized, yet compression diminishes bandwidth requirements. Equipment vendors will also use their own proprietary codecs.

The way toward sending information to different users includes encapsulating audio into data packets, transmitting the packets across an IP network, and encapsulating the packets back into audio at the other end of the connection.

Inside big business or private organizations, quality of service (QoS) is ordinarily used to focus on voice traffic over non-latency-sensitive applications to guarantee adequate voice quality.

Extra segments of a typical VoIP system the accompanying: an IP PBX to manage user telephone numbers, devices, features, and clients; gateways to connect networks and provide failover or local survivability in the event of a network outage; and session border controllers to provide security, call policy management and network connections.

A VoIP framework can likewise incorporate location-tracking databases for E911 (enhanced 911) call routing and management platforms. This can collect call performance statistics for reactive and proactive voice-quality management.

By eliminating circuit-switched networks for voice, VoIP reduces network infrastructure costs and enables providers to deliver voice services over Broadband and private networks. This should also enable enterprises to operate a single voice and data network.

VoIP also piggybacks on the resiliency of IP-based networks by enabling fast failover, following outages, and redundant communications between endpoints and networks.

Advantages of VoIP

  • Price is lower than typical phone bills.
  • With uncompressed data, audio is less muffled or fuzzy.
  • Access for remote workers
  • Added features (call recording, queues, custom caller ID or voicemail to email)
  • Low international rates.

Disadvantages of VoIP

  • VoIP needs a high-speed internet connection.
  • Not all these services may connect directly to emergency services.
  • Services will not work during power outages.
  • There may be a lack of directory assistance depending on the VoIP service.

The bottom line

Switching to VoIP might also help you save money on communications services. Long-distance and international calls are generally free with VoIP service. The only charge is for your internet access. Implementing VoIP doesn’t mean that all your employees have to use IP-enabled phones. The best VoIP providers implement IP telephony in a manner that protects your investment in existing telephone equipment, even if you have analog telephone stations.