VOIP - Voice Over Internet Protocol
Internet Voice, also known as Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), is a technology that allows you to make telephone calls using a broadband Internet connection instead of a regular (or analog) phone line. Some services using VoIP may only allow you to call other people using the same service, but others may allow you to call anyone who has a telephone number - including local, long distance, mobile, and international numbers. Also, while some services only work over your computer or a special VoIP phone, other services allow you to use a traditional phone through an adaptor.
Today we can see a real revolution in communication world: everybody begins to use PCs and Internet for job and free time to communicate each other, to exchange data (like images, sounds, documents) and, sometimes, to talk each other using applications like Netmeeting or Internet Phone. Particularly starts to diffusing a common idea that could be the future and that can allow real-time vocal communication: VoIP.
What is VoIP?
VoIP stands for Voice over Internet Protocol. As the term says VoIP tries to let go voice (mainly human) through IP packets and, in definitive through Internet. VoIP can use accelerating hardware to achieve this purpose and can also be used in a PC environment.
How does it work?
Many years ago we discovered that sending a signal to a remote destination could have be done also in a digital fashion: before sending it we have to digitalize it with an ADC (analog to digital converter), transmit it, and at the end transform it again in analog format with DAC (digital to analog converter) to use it.
VoIP works like that, digitalizing voice in data packets, sending them and reconverting them in voice at destination.
Digital format can be better controlled: we can compress it, route it, convert it to a new better format, and so on; also we saw that digital signal is more noise tolerant than the analog one (see GSM vs TACS).
TCP/IP networks are made of IP packets containing a header (to control communication) and a payload to transport data: VoIP use it to go across the network and come to destination.
What is the advantages using VoIP rather PSTN?
When you are using PSTN line, you typically pay for time used to a PSTN line manager company: more time you stay at phone and more you'll pay. In addition you couldn't talk with other that one person at a time.
In opposite with VoIP mechanism you can talk all the time with every person you want (the needed is that other person is also connected to Internet at the same time), as far as you want (money independent) and, in addition, you can talk with many people at the same time.
If you're still not persuaded you can consider that, at the same time, you can exchange data with people are you talking with, sending images, graphs and videos.