Voice over Internet Protocol or VOIP is a general term for a family of transmission technologies for delivery of voice communications over IP-based networks such as the internet. Other terms that are used interchangeably with VOIP are IP telephony, Internet telephony, voice over broadband, broadband telephony, and broadband phone. VOIP allows the transfer of voice using the same technology and infrastructure used by the Internet instead of the traditional telephone networks.
There are three main ways of connecting to the VOIP service providers: using adapters to let traditional analog phone lines and equipments make VOIP calls. Dedicated phone devices can also make VOIP calls without the need for a computer. These devices connect directly to the IP network using wireless or wired internet connection. Third, softphones or digital phone are software applications that run on normal computers connected to the IP network also allow VOIP calls.
VOIP gained traction in the consumer market when VOIP were started to be offered over broadband internet access services. This allowed subscribers to make VOIP calls as they would on the traditional phone networks. Corporate users also began using VOIP over traditional copper-wire telephone systems because of the flexibility and cost savings that VOIP provided because of its better bandwidth efficiency.
Making emergency calls is one of the remaining disadvantages of VOIP. Because of the nature of the internet protocol, geographic location of VOIP users is difficult and thus calls cannot be easily routed to nearby call center. Despite this and many disadvantages, VOIP’s popularity ensures that it is here to stay.