All you need is VOIP

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The field of telecommunications is a dynamic. With the ever-increasing advances in technology, the products and services on offer also change rapidly. The new systems of communication have proven to be more efficient and utility- driven. This has made their popularity soar and enabled them to replace the conventional modes employed.

VoIP phone system is one of the latest offering on the block, which are though, similar to analog phones, but operate via PSTNs (Public Switched Telephone Network). The Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) technology allows the users to make calls over the internet; all one needs is an active broadband connection to launch a call.

VoIP phone system, like its traditional counterpart, not only is similar in appearance but carries most of its features as well, like call waiting, redial, speed dial, flash, mute, space for storing contacts, volume control etc. Incorporation of traditional features provides for comfort and ease of use.

However, since these phones are specifically designed to make calls over the internet, they are also accompanied by VoIP gateways that convert analog signals into IP, for transfer over a phone network.

VoIP gateways are used to convert incoming analog signals to digital packets. Therefore, they allow calls to be received and transferred over the regular PSTNs; they also connect traditional phones to an IP network. These gateways therefore, have one port to connect to the IP network and another to the various analog phone lines.

Depending on the type of lines they connect, VoIP gateways have been divided into analog units and digital units. Analog units are employed to connect up to 24 analog phone lines to it. Alternatively, the digital units allow one or more digital lines to be connected with it.

A VoIP phones system provides for a number of advantages over the regular analog phones as well. Since the calls are made via the internet, the costs incurred are much less than the usual telephony. Not only this, the taxes that are applicable on the phone calls made over IP networks are negligible, further lowering the total costs.

The convenience that a VoIP phones system provides is unmatched. The users just need an active broadband connection to start a call with these phones. Various specialized features too are available with a VoIP service provider. These include voice mail, call waiting, three-way calling, call forwarding, caller ID among others.

An additional advantage with a VoIP phone service is that it does not require the users to change numbers on relocation. Again, the only necessary condition is the availability of a high-speed internet connection. Hence, VoIP phone services not only prove to be more efficient but highly affordable as well.

Voice over Internet Protocol, or VoIP, is the technology that allows voice communications over the Internet. The quality of voice over IP now is crystal clear and rivals the one of traditional telephone. The VoIP services from leading provider Vonage are subscribed by over one million users by 2006. It all started back in 1995 when a few hobbyists developed software for sending voice data packets over the Internet rather than communicating through standard telephone service, so they could make long distance calls free of charges. Early VoIP were marked by poor sound quality and connectivity. Besdies, it required both callers to have a computer equipped with the same software, the same sound card and the same microphone. In 1996, Vocaltec was the first company that released a commercial VoIP product found on the shelves of Compusa and other retail outlets.

By 1998, a caller could make calls to any standard phones from a PC with right hardware and software. Phone to phone service soon followed, but the phones were required to connect to PCs to establish the Internet Telefony. The same year, the VoIP landscape changed drastically when both the Internet hardware giant Cisco and major communication hardware manufacturer Nortel entered the VoIP market with hardware equipment that allowed easy switch between standard phones and the voice data packets on the Internet. The new hardware made the VoIP hardware less computer dependent. Eventually, the connection to VoIP with a router is just as easy as to connect to a standard phone outlet.

VoIP finally took off in 2000. It has become a mainstream alternative to standard telephone service since then. The growing acceptance of VoIP in both business and residential phone use is evidential in the phenomenal success of Vonage, a major player in VoIP market today. Vonage offered VoIP service to business communities in 2001 and signed its first residential customer in 2002. Year 2003 was marked by the first platform for 911 calls on VoIP software. Between 2004 to 2005, Vonage launched VoIP service in Canada, Puerto Rico, United Kingdom and other European countries. Vonage phone service charges a monthly service fee, and calls (local, long distance or international) are technical free or unlimited. With more than one million subscribers this year, Vonage continues to offer new services and plans to meet the needs of both business and residential markets. Some small businesses have started to take the advantage of the flat fee of VoIP plans. They now have an alternative to 1-800 numbers to interact with their customers.

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