The Lowdown on VoIP

It seems like technology is headed for a massive telephone change over. The traditional Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) is looking to be replaced by VoIP. VoIP is short for Voice over IP. VoIP is the routing of conversations over an IP network or the Internet. VoIP uses a packet-switched network instead of the circuit-switched voice transmission lines used by traditional telephone networks. VoIP does not need an Internet connection to work. A company that has a LAN connection with all of its computers can utilize VoIP technology.

VoIP is a great technology, but has a variety of issues with implementation. VoIP may face problems with latency because IPs do not provide Quality of Service guarantees, nor do they provide their packets of information in sequential order. High-speed Internet connections are required for VoIP and firewalls often prove tricky for VoIP technology. To combat this, many people use Session Border Controllers (SBC).

VoIP technology has many advantages. There are more new features with VoIP because of the lack of an International Telecommunications Union. VoIP is still very much an open market for developers, so the technology is constantly being improved. VoIP also has a lower cost than traditional sources because of the monopolies that exist or traditional phone companies being controlled by the government. Some users even see VoIP phone calls as free because they do not have to pay extra for the service. The user only pays the Internet service provider, and therefore the usage of VoIP seems to be free. You can also take your VoIP phone wherever you go because all you need is a network connection to make it work. VoIP technology will also benefit network agents who work for call centers. Agents can help callers from anywhere in the country with an Internet connection. Finally, because VoIP is on the computer, there is increased functionality. Conference calls can be held, information can be sent, and things like address books can be updated and shared over VoIP.

While VoIP has many advantages, there are a few drawbacks to the service. One of the biggest drawbacks is reliability. Telephone lines have back up generators in case of power outages, so phones can keep working. Because VoIP is connected to the Internet, a power outage will end a VoIP call when the computer shuts down. To combat this, users must buy an expensive uninterruptible power supply or a generator that must then be installed on the premises. Internet connections are also subject to disconnection, depending on crowded networks, and the quality of the ISP. If the Internet connection drops, then the VoIP call will be dropped. VoIP is also a problem for emergency calls. Because of the nature of the Internet and VoIP systems, emergency workers cannot trace calls. In the event that someone with an emergency has a problem but is unable to give an address, the emergency worker will not be able to trace the call and find the person. VoIP carriers are already attempting to fix this problem by implementing a technical work-around. Finally, it will be very difficult to integrate VoIP on a massive scale, because while the standard Plain Old Telephone System (POTS) has a common standard, VoIP does not.

VoIP has many advantages as well as some large drawbacks. The main roadblock in the way of global VoIP adoption is reliability. When VoIP proves that it can be just as reliable as traditional telephone services have been over many years, then it will start to be adopted. VoIP technology is always improving, so the problems with VoIP today are likely to be solved sooner than many people expect. VoIP can truly revolutionize both the business world and home life.

Mike Schuda is fascinated by new technologies and writes for VoIP Lowdown ( http://www.voiplowdown.com ).

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