VOIP: what it is and how it works between the pros and cons

VOIP

Technological evolution always provides new tools to facilitate communication between people. Let's see the features, pros, and cons of VOIP; technology that has been available to users for some time, but which still not everyone knows thoroughly. The new generation of telephone conversations is VOIP, but although this technology has been in use for some time, through means such as Skype, Hangout, ZoIP Free or VivaVox, many still do not know exactly what it is and how it works. It is a voice conversation in real-time through digital data transmission or the one used for the common data exchange on the internet. Today, many telephony operators carry the calls of their customers on the digital network since it is as reliable as the analog communication system. Here’s everything you need to know about VOIP.

VOIP: what is it?

The acronym that defines digital calls is the acronym for Voice over Internet Protocol, which translated would be Voice via internet protocol. The acronym explains exactly the essence of communication in VOIP, which means that the Voice is able to travel in real-time on any network based on IP protocols, regardless of whether they refer to an internet network or a LAN. 

Some telephony providers allow the use of this technology, not only to make calls, video calls, or video conferences to systems of the same type but also to numbers that still use analog technology as a means of communication.

Apparently, there are no differences between a user who uses the network to make a voice call and a consumer who instead remains tied to analog technology: both to call will type the telephone number of the person you want to reach, be it a customer who uses digital technology or not, whether it has a fixed or mobile number, whether it is in the USA or abroad.

VOIP: how does it work?

Essentially, the VOIP technology uses two protocols that operate in parallel to ensure communication: the first protocol is essential to signal the start of the call and activate all data coding processes, both audio and possibly video, as well as those necessary to identify the call and synchronize it; the second protocol carries out all the activities necessary to transport the data, making the conversation or video call available in real-time.

An essential element to put in place a digital call is certainly the fast connection, such as ADSL lines. Using high-speed internet lines, it is possible to capture analog voice information and convert it into computer data, which will be sent to the recipient in packets. Once at their destination, the central server will reconstruct them by providing the user at the other end of the line, not with data, but with the user's voice who initiated the conversation. Although this appears to be a very long, and perhaps even complex process, it is a computerized process in fractions of a second in reality. 

The IP address replaces the residential address

A substantial difference between communication via digital and analog networks concerns the geographical position of the user. In fact, if a telephone number on an analog network indicates a precise geographical position and is active only at a specific physical address, a telephone number on a digital network remains active regardless of its location, as it refers to the IP address to which it is connected. The server will then be online and will make the user reachable regardless of his geographical position: the essential thing is that it is connected to the network.

What do you need to structure a VoIP telephone system?

- A compatible VoIP phone

- an Internet connection

- a number and an active VoIP phone subscription.

What is a VoIP Phone?

The main feature of a VoIP phone is that it can be assigned an IP address.

By associating an IP address, we make the instrument able to communicate with the rest of the company network, and we can put it in communication with the internal VoIP exchange or with the Telephone Operator.

VoIP phones are usually also advanced in functions and allow you to quickly manage call transfers, directories, waiting for queues and extensions.

Internet connection for VoIP

Although any Internet connection is fine to be able to make a phone call, it is useful to know that VoIP does not require large bandwidth sizes. With modern encoding and decoding methods, a phone call occupies about 33kbps bidirectional. In practice, with a seven mega that usually has 512kbps in upload, it is possible to make about 12 simultaneous calls considering. In addition to the actual audio traffic, the management, and signaling traffic of the various network protocols necessary for the entire system's operation.

Often the same connection is used for both data and Voice where there are suitable performances and a correct configuration of the internal network. Usually, the latter is much more essential than the former. When there are many extensions and many active numbers, it is advisable to dedicate connectivity to the voice service to make it independent from the main connection.

Difference between VoIP number and traditional number

For the end-user, nothing changes. The number remains the same, and they are "bestowed" with the same regulations. While traditional numbers communicated with each other through a control panel that recognized the numbers through tones (and first the impulses), now a VoIP number corresponds to an IP and is all managed by dedicated exchanges that are more than servers than traditional telephone exchanges for as we imagine them historically.

The telephone subscription

As with traditional telephony, however, everything passes through a telephone operator specialized in VoIP telephony.

So yes, in order to have a number, one cannot ignore a telephone operator.

In fact, even a call through two SKYPE or Whattsapp users is a VoIP call but without an identification telephone number.

VOIP: pros and cons

The advantages of Voice Over IP

The first of the advantages ascribable to Voice Over IP is certainly the lower cost of calls, both those to fixed and mobile numbers, but above all, those addressed to international numbers.

To this first advantage, which is by no means negligible, is added that which concerns the infrastructures necessary to make calls digitally, certainly cheaper.

Obviously, unlike those who use analog systems, those in Voice Over IP can be implemented and differentiated simply by changing the system settings; A perfect example to understand the potential of this technology is the creation of a virtual switchboard through which you can not only manage all the extensions and the queue of incoming calls but also save the voicemail messages on your PC.

Many providers also allow you to make free calls:

- between users who own the same supplier;

- between users of providers who have established an agreement between them;

- Between users who choose to contact each other through a gateway.

What disadvantages of using Voice Over IP

The disadvantages that weighed on Voice Over IP technology until a few years ago are now almost completely overcome.

The first of the disadvantages that were usually charged to this audio and video communication system concerned any delays in the transmission and re-compacting of the data packets, now largely overcome due to the increasing availability of broadband.

However, a problem that persists concerns the electric current. The need for an internet connection, or in any case a company LAN network, implies the existence of a router connected to electricity. In the event of a power failure, and therefore of connection to the network, it will be impossible to be reachable.

Ultimately, some experts fear for the security of calls: the increasing use of voice and video calls through the Voice over IP system could emerge problems in the future regarding the security of connections. To remedy the onset of problems of this kind, several telecommunication companies have founded the Voice over IP Security Alliance, which has the task of identifying any security gaps in advance and evading them.

A user, be it a private individual or a company, could be unreachable not only due to the lack of electricity: there are some areas not yet provided with good network coverage. The danger, in this case, is that of having a connection that travels in fits and starts and, consequentlyVOIP, unable to allow a normal and pleasant video or audio conversation.

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Oct 15, 2020

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