What Does VoIP Mean?
Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP) is an Internet-based phone technology allowing for phone calls to be transmitted online instead of using traditional phone technologies, such as Plain Old Telephone Service (POTS). VoIP is distinct because it relies on the use of Internet access and can exist independently of phone lines and wireless signals. As such, you can use VoIP phone service anywhere that access to the Internet is readily available. Both the caller and the call recipient must have some sort of phone service, but the recipient doesn’t necessarily need to use a VoIP phone to answer the call. Both sides can have completely different phone services, because VoIP works with traditional landline POTS phones and wireless cellphones. While VoIP is a newer technology than POTS, it is typically much cheaper and more efficient–so many companies and individuals have embraced this type of phone service as a result.
In this article, we’ll give a brief overview of VoIP and how the phone service works. We’ll also talk about some of the ways VoIP is used and some of the top popular applications for using VoIP. VoIP has significant advantages that have made it an attractive type of service for many people, so it continues to grow in popularity over time.
- Intro to VoIP
- A Short Phone History
- Why VoIP? For Business? Personal Use?
- The Future of VoIP Service?
1. Intro to VoIP
VoIP service works by assigning a traditional phone number to a specific account that is used through a VoIP service provider to access phone service. This phone number can call older, traditional phone systems, allowing VoIP phones to interact perfectly well with other types of phone service. VoIP signals are transferred across phone lines, broadband connections, and other forms of Internet access such as satellite internet and wireless internet using a cell phone signal. In other words, wherever Internet works, you can easily use VoIP, at least on some level. This is in direct contrast to traditional phone service that relies on telephone wires and wireless cellphone signals. These forms of phone service have added limitations that VoIP doesn’t suffer from.
Over the years, VoIP service has substantially improved to the point where it is basically the same in quality as traditional phone service. Many people now use VoIP and others probably can’t tell the difference in phone service at all. This has led to a significant expansion in the use of VoIP phone service, and the decline of other types of services as more people become acquainted with how VoIP works and its unique advantages for users.
2. A Short Phone History
Initially, the only phone service available on the market was landline phone service. A physical wire was needed to carry voice signals along a specific route between a caller and recipient. Since there was nothing quite like phone service in existence before, landlines made a huge impact on culture, technology and business. Commerce flourished with the ability to communicate almost instantly across great distances. Telephone wire was rapidly placed along major commerce routes so people between big cities could readily communicate with each other. Telephones soon became a common household item and changed global culture forever, speeding up research, personal activity and commerce. In a similar vein, the advent of VoIP has also made a huge impact.
VoIP came along about the same time the Internet was developed. Of course, the Internet truly did develop in fits and starts. At first, it was predominantly a research tool and had limited use beyond research and government institutions. Internet access was relatively slow and couldn’t carry much data. The first VoIP call was placed in these early days, but it was grainy and had significant quality problems–as such, the technology was too immature to be of practical value yet.
Increasing Internet speeds made VoIP much more relevant. The high cost of placing telephone wire and maintaining these systems meant phone calls remained stubbornly expensive, especially for long-distance calls. Many companies and individuals began actively looking for viable alternatives. This ran in parallel with changes in how the Internet worked allowing larger amounts of data to be carried at much higher speeds than ever before. In time, these trends converged and led to businesses adopting VoIP service.
3. Why VoIP? For Business? Personal Use?
In the past, early VoIP was slow and unreliable. The days of dial-up Internet meant that VoIP had little practical value for businesses or individuals. With higher speeds and data carrying capabilities, the Internet finally became competitive with the traditional telephone. Now, VoIP is enormously cheaper to use and access than a traditional phone line, and for a good reason–maintenance is much cheaper and expansion of access is as simple as expanding the reach of Internet access.
To businesses, this led to a boom in outsourcing. Finally, a low-cost phone service enabling the use of data centers, call centers and contact centers was available. Many companies soon realized they could employ a distributed workforce and hire employees who live anywhere, literally anywhere on Earth, and still be able to call telephone numbers in any local area cheaply. VoIP systems are easily scalable to fit a variety of different business needs, accommodating small businesses and larger ones without much hassle.
Individuals and businesses can both place long-distance calls and International calls very cheaply or practically for free. While a traditional phone has to use a cable underneath the ocean to transmit voice data to another corner of the globe, VoIP only needs to use the Internet, saving considerable expense for the phone company and all other parties involved. This has led to a variety of interesting applications and uses for VoIP.
4. The Future of VoIP Service
We can already see glimpses of VoIP’s future in the wide variety of creative applications companies and individuals have available now with VoIP access. Contact centers, a type of call center that also does SMS text messaging and chat communications, allow more companies to communicate and connect with their customers like never before. Easily-scaled phone systems allow everyone in an entire company to readily access these tools and instantly communicate with customers who visit the company website. You can now build a call center anywhere and have your employees all work in different places, yet present a single front in your incoming and outgoing communications.
This all has given small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) more opportunities to expand and compete toe-to-toe with larger enterprises. Now, even soloprenuers can present a much more impressive and significant image to the world than ever before and appear to be a much bigger company. With the wide variety of compatible software systems and game-changing Software as a Service (SaaS) applications available, now VoIP can have an even bigger impact and can continue changing our global economy for the better. Individuals can now sign up for VoIP services, too, and have access to a much better and cheaper phone system that can readily work with any other phone systems their friends and family use. Long story short, VoIP is making a real difference for users in the business world and also making an impact for individuals and families, too.