You’ve Probably Heard of VoIP, But What Exactly Is it?


VoIP phoneEveryone’s heard of VoIP, as in a VoIP phone. Maybe you even know that VoIP means Voice Over Internet Protocol, as in an internet phone. But if you had to explain the concept to a clueless college student straight out of the 1980s, could you do it? 

Harder than it seems, right? 

Not to worry – in this article we’re going to explain exactly what VoIP means, and how it compares to landline and mobile phones, technically speaking. 

The Basics of VoIP

VoIP refers to the technology of converting a person’s voice (or video for that matter) into a digital signal. All within a second, your voice is converted into a file, compressed, and then sent over the internet to another caller. Meanwhile, the other caller waits (for about a second) as your voice is uncompressed and then played through the communications device. 

That device could be a VoIP phone, a headset, a tablet, Smartphone, or a PC/laptop. The device must be SIP-compatible to work. That just refers to Open Standard SIP, a signaling protocol that initiates contact between IP devices. 

This technology allows users to communicate through different service providers, and even from a landline or cellular phone, using Open Standard RTP

In order to transfer and compress these digital files and connect them to a variety of networks, you need a VoIP service provider. 

The advantages of VoIP are that you can make phone calls without using a telephone service (meaning you don’t have to pay long distance fees) and all you really need is an internet service provider.

VoIP vs. Landlines

Besides the end of long-distance charges, the main differences are that a landline uses analog phone systems, which are landline-based phones that the telephone company installs. When you speak into the phone, your voice travels via sound waves, which are then converted into electrical energy via the piece called a diaphragm. 

The system sends the call by a metal wire or optical fiber telephone line. 

VoIP vs. Cell Phones

A cell phone turns your voice into electrical signals via microphone and then modulates radio waves before sending it to a local cell tower. 

Mobile companies own a set of radio wave frequencies from which users can access data and send/receive information. But depending on where you are in the world, you may or may not have access to these cell towers. Not all companies have excellent coverage throughout the world. 

Some regions, especially in deep rural territories with lots of trees, it’s harder to access a nearby cell tower. 

Because VoIP connects to the internet, via satellite, cable modem, or broadband, connections can sometimes be more stable. VoIP transforms your voice into digital packets and simply sends those packets over the net instantly. 

Cell Phones Are Fast, VoIP is More Versatile

The ease of which a company can set up a broadband network almost anywhere explains why VoIP is increasing in popularity as the best way to talk online. 

Obviously, cellular phones have some advantages, especially in faster and more simple communication. In fact, it’s such a fast means of communication, it gets some people in trouble – mostly drivers!

But VoIP has its own advantages in more complex scenarios, such as group chats, conference meetings, and longer chat sessions, either by audio or video. 

You can even get your own dedicated phone number with VoIP technology. Find out more about getting a virtual phone number

Everyone Wins with VoIP 

While it’s arguable that landline is an impractical technology (in fact many offices still swear by it), it’s safe to say that both VoIP and cellular phones have their place in a modern, telecommuting world. 

Besides the technology, there is no significant downside to VoIP or cellular. Cellular phones tend to be faster in big cities, where there is plenty of coverage. But VoIP is giving us new and exciting developments in the fields of video conferencing. 

We’re already simulating real face-to-face meetings using web cameras and making it more lifelike and instantaneous with every new update to Zoom, Skype, Facetime and the like. . 

For more on technology and business in the South Florida / Caribbean region, keep reading SFLCN.


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