- all about Voice Over IP
VoIP Connections bypassing phone network
VoIP connections using phone network
FXS/FXO gateway pairs
VOIP (which stands for "Voice-Over-Internet-Protocol") describes
technologies designed to deliver voice information using
the Internet Protocol (IP). Generally, this means that
voice information is sent over the Internet in discrete digital
"packets", rather than over copper telephone lines of the
public switched telephone network (PTSN).
VoIP offers your small / home business several advantages over
"traditional" telephone services. Assuming you choose a
solution that allows you to use phone numbers in exactly
the same way as you did before (read
more about this or compare
to the other alternative), you can
- Lower cost. Setup fees are typically very low and
savings can be felt after only one month of service.
Many VoIP providers offer "flat-fee" "all-you-can-eat" plans
that don't carry any per-minute charges except for international
calls which are significantly cheaper than with traditional
- Obtaining more control over your phone
Your VoIP service can often be configured and managed via extranet web sites;
you can examine the log of phone calls, archive messages in
the digital format; change account set-up directly; receive
billing information, and so on.
- Gaining more flexibility in physical location. Because VoIP
does not "tie" you to a particular location, you can relocate
anywhere where you can get reliable Internet access without
any disruptions to your phone service. You can keep your
number and work from your office, home, hotel, etc in the
- Improving business processes and increasing sales
There are tools to make you more flexible and more
accessible to your customers. You can utilize call routing
to take calls on your cell phone when your main number is
not available. You can also order "alternative" phone numbers
with almost any area code
for your VoIP line and thus allow your customers call you
on a "local" number.
It wouldn't be fair not to mention several drawbacks
that are currently associated with VoIP deployment:
- Call quality depends on your Internet connection. If your
Internet connection is not reliable, you may experience
drop-outs and sound distortion. (With that said, most
cable and DSL lines are adequate for VoIP).
- Unclear regulatory environment. As of the time of
this writing (Nov 2003), the U.S. government still
hasn't decided on whether or not VoIP is going
to be regulated as tightly as phone services are.
Ouside the U.S., several foreign governments, fearing
the loss of tax revenue from incumbent providers,
outright banned use of VoIP in their jurisdictions.
MAIN STANDARDS: H.323 and SIP
There are two main competing standards that are used in
VoIP services - H.323 and SIP (Session Initiation Protocol).
For more information on these two standards and for
in-depth comparison, we recommend visiting
In addition to these two, there are several proprietary,
"non-standard" standards that are utilized by some
VoIP providers, most notably, Skype.
CONNECTING TO PHONE NETWORK
Strictly speaking, VoIP can be utilized with or without
the phone network. What does that mean? It means that depending
on your chosen service/configuration, you may be able to
place calls to "regular" phone numbers,
receive calls at a your personal number,
do both or you may not be able to do either. (The latter doesn't
render VoIP useless - it simply means that your party has to
utilize the same type of connectivity as yours. Read
more about connections that are
compatible with phone networks).