Voice over IP (VoIP) was developed in order to provide access to voice communication in any place around the world. In most places, voice communication is quite costly. Consider making a phone call to a person living in a country half the globe away. The first thing you think of in this case is your phone bill! VoIP solves this problem and many others.
There are of course a few drawbacks attached to the use of VoIP, as is the case with any technology, but the advantages largely outbalance these.
Save a lot of money
If you don’t use VoIP for voice communication, then you are most certainly using the good old phone line (PSTN). On a PSTN line, time is really money. You actually pay for each minute you spend communicating on the phone. International calls are much more expensive. Since VoIP uses the Internet as a backbone, the only cost you have when using it is the monthly Internet bill to your ISP. Of course, you need broadband internet access, like ADSL, with a decent speed. In fact, unlimited 24/7 ADSL Internet service is what most people use today, and this causes your monthly cost to be a fixed amount. You can speak as much as you wish on VoIP and the connection cost will still be the same.
Studies have shown that, compared to using a PSTN line, using VoIP can potentially make you save up to 40 % on local calls, and up to 90 % on international calls.
If you are an Internet user wishing to use VoIP for voice communication, the only additional hardware you require besides your computer and internet connection are a sound card, speakers, and a microphone. These are quite cheap. There exist several software packages downloadable from the Internet, which you can install and use for the purpose. Examples of such applications are the well-known Skype and a Net 2 Phone. You do not actually need a telephone set, which can be quite expensive, along with the underlying equipment, especially when you have a phone network.
Abundant, Interesting and Useful Features
Using VoIP also means benefiting from its abundant features which can make your VoIP experience very rich and sophisticated, both personally and for your business. You are thus better equipped for call management. You can, for example, make calls anywhere in the world to any destination in the world with your VoIP account. Features also include caller ID, Contact Lists, Voicemail, extra-virtual numbers etc.
More than voice
More efficient use of bandwidth
It is known that about 50 % of a voice conversation is silence. VoIP fills the ‘empty’ silence spaces with data so that bandwidth in data communication channels is not wasted. In other words, a user is not given bandwidth when he is not talking, and this bandwidth is used efficiently for other bandwidth consumers. Moreover, compression and the ability to remove redundancy in some speech patterns add up to the efficiency.
Flexible network layout
The underlying network for VoIP does not need to be of a particular layout or topology. This makes it possible for an organization to make use of the power of proven technologies like ATM, SONET, ethernet etc. VoIP can alwso be used over wireless networks like Wi-Fi.
When using VoIP, the network complexity inherent in PSTN connections is eliminated, yielding an integrated and flexible infrastructure which can actually support many types of communication. The system being more standardized, it requires less equipment management and is therefore more fault tolerant.
If you work in an organization using an intranet or extranet, you can still access your office from home through VoIP. You can convert your home into a segment of the office and remotely use the voice, fax and data services of your workplace through the organization’s intranet. The portable nature of the VoIP technology is causing it to gain popularity as the trend is towards portable commodities. Portable hardware is becoming more and more common, as are portable services, and VoIP fits in well.
More than two persons
On the phone line, only two persons can speak at a time. With VoIP, you can set up a conference with a whole team communicating in real time. VoIP compresses data packets during transmission, and this causes more data to be handled by the carrier. As a result, more calls can be handled on one access line.
Fax over IP
The problems of fax services using PSTN are high cost for long distances, quality attenuation in the analog signals and incompatibility between communicating machines. Real-time fax transmission on VoIP simply uses a fax interface to convert the data into packets and ensures complete delivery of the data in a very reliable way. With VoIP, there is finally not even the need for a fax machine for sending and receiving fax.
More productive software development
VoIP is able to combine different data types and to make routing and signaling more flexible and robust. As a result, network application developers will find it easier to develop and deploy emerging applications for data communication using VoIP. Moreover, the possibility of implementing VoIP software in web browsers and servers gives a more productive and competitive edge to e-commerce and customer service applications.