The past few years have seen an amazing revolution in the telecommunications field, as more and more companies have begun offering long distance and wireless service. Business and residential customers now have an extraordinary range of products and services to choose from when they are shopping for voice communication tools. One of the most exciting new technologies in telecommunications is Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) telephony.
VoIP telephony takes the words you say into the telephone, compresses them into voice data packets, and sends them over the Internet to the person you are calling. By bypassing public telephone networks (PSTN), VoIP telephony saves the caller money on long distance charges and makes it possible for users to give up their standard telephone line completely.
VoIP telephony was first used in 1995. These first efforts at VoIP were completely computer based, and were beset with delays, "jitter" (static), and other glitches. However, the technology was promising enough that major manufacturers like Cisco Systems and Nortel went to work developing new hardware and software. Modern VoIP telephony no longer requires a computer. It has become accessible and affordable for almost every business or residential customer with broadband Internet (cable or DSL).
Business customers with their own IP networks were among the first to discover the benefits of VoIP. With VoIP, telephony calls over an IP network are completely free, meaning branch offices around the world can speak to one another at no charge. The cost savings of this are obvious, but the hidden value lies in the fact that employees who are able to communicate freely with head office will be more productive. When you add in the long distance savings made possible with VoIP telephony, companies with large call volumes have the possibility to cut telecommunications costs drastically.
VoIP telephony is also quickly becoming available to residential customers. VoIP telephony offers all the same calling features of regular telephone service, such as call waiting, call forwarding, call return, and caller ID. VoIP telephony also offers some new twists on existing product, such as voicemail that can be checked online. When callers leave a voicemail message, it is saved in the computer file format you specify (e.g. .wav, .wma) and can then be played online, meaning you can check your messages from any Internet-connected computer. VoIP telephony is also portable.
Users traveling abroad can simply bring along their VoIP telephone adapter and plug it into a broadband Ethernet port. Then, they can use their home phone just like they were at home, sending and receiving calls for free from anywhere in the world. With VoIP telephony sweeping the world, there is no reason to think that this technology is not here to stay. Before long, we may have to begin referring to VoIP telephony as "standard telephony."