Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) can be defined as a series of technologies and technique that is used for release of voice communications and multimedia through Internet Protocol networks. In some cases, this technique is referred to as a means of converting analog audio signals into digital data that can be delivered through an Internet Protocol. The use of the technique is attributed to its ability to transform standard Internet connection into a platform for free phone calls. In the past few years, Voice over Internet Protocol has emerged as an innovative technology with the capability of completely transforming phone systems across the globe. As a result, VoIP providers have not only existed for a considerable period of time but are also growing steadily. However, the use of VoIP to rework modern phone systems is characterized by several advantages and disadvantages.
Use of VoIP:
The use of Voice over Internet Protocol is primarily an intelligent re-invention of the wheel in the world’s phone systems. Generally, this technique involves transmitting voice information in digital format in distinct packets instead of using the conventional circuit-committed protocols of the public switched telephone network (“VoIP (voice over IP),” n.d.). This technique was developed following initiatives by major equipment providers to enhance the use of standard measures for transmitting voice and video using Internet Protocol within an intranet and across the public Internet. This was achieved through the VoIP Forum, which also supports the use of directory service standards for users to identify other users and the utilization of touch-tone signals for automatic distribution of call and voice mail. The use of this technology involves positioning a device at a gateway, which obtains packetized voice transmissions from users within the organization. The gateway then routes the transmissions to other segments of its intranet or transmits them through the public switched telephone network.
According to Valdes & Roos (n.d.), there are three varying methods of VoIP service that are commonly used today. The first flavor is Analog Telephone Adaptor (ATA), which is the simplest and most common means that enables a user to connect a standard phone to his/her computer or Internet connection. Since the device is an analog-to-digital converter, it takes analog signal from the standard phone and converts it into digital form for transmission through the Internet. The second flavor of the technique is IP Phones, which are specialized phones that resemble normal phones with a handset, buttons, and cradle. However, the difference between these phones and normal phones is that they have an RJ-45 Ethernet connector rather than the standard RJ-11 phone connectors. The phones link directly to the user’s router and contain the necessary hardware and software to handle the IP call. Computer-to-computer is the third mode of VoIP, which is certainly the easiest because an individual does not even need to pay for long-distance calls. This is the easiest mode because a person only needs software, microphone, a sound card, speakers, and an Internet connection.
Advantages of Using VoIP:
From experience in working with Voice over Internet Protocol, this technology has considerable benefits or advantages when compared to legacy phone systems. Actually, the benefits of this protocol contributes to projections that it is likely to replace conventional phone service as more companies are using it to provide cheaper long distance rates for phone calls. One of the advantages of this protocol is its low cost, which makes it attractive to companies and users. The use of VoIP has made long-distance phone calls to become relatively inexpensive since voice traffic is transmitted over private data network lines or on the Internet (Park, 2009). Companies are increasingly using the protocol because it lessens cost for manpower, equipment, maintenance, and lines.
Secondly, Voice over Internet Protocol is portable since an individual can make or receive phone calls anywhere as long as there is broadband connection and by simply signing into his/her VoIP account. In some cases, a user would simply need Ethernet connection or to connect T-1 in order to make a call for free. Portability is a major advantage of the protocol unlike the legacy phone system where the user cannot move his/her phone to another location and use the same phone number assigned to his/her dedicated line.
Third, VoIP systems are attractive because they support easy integration with other solutions that contribute to efficient communications and enhanced collaboration. Many companies are using the protocol to enhance the efficiency of their communication systems and collaboration. VoIP is collaborative with various systems such as legacy equipment, unified communications systems, and proprietary collaborative solutions. The other advantage of the protocol is that it supports rich media communications, which has become a huge demand by users in today’s society. Rich media service is achieved through easy integration with other applications and protocols that provide users with several alternatives and generates new markets in the communications industry.
Disadvantages of Using VoIP:
Since Voice over Internet Protocol is still an emerging technology, it is characterized by some disadvantages that hinder its complete effectiveness. Nonetheless, the technology becomes increasingly reliable and generates more acceptance as standards are developed. One of the disadvantages of VoIP is the lack of continuous service during a power outage. Unlike regular phones, IP phone calls are relatively impossible when power goes out. This implies that VoIP phone service is only available when there is uninterruptible power supply or the use of battery backups or power generators (“The Advantages and Disadvantages of VoIP,” n.d.).
Secondly, the protocol’s phone service cannot be used for emergency calls because of difficulties in determining the origin of the call. It is not easy to determine the location of an individual making IP phone calls and therefore challenging to provide emergency service like emergency 911 calls. Despite of various initiatives undertaken to address the issue such as e911, inability to provide emergency service remains a major disadvantage of VoIP systems.
The third disadvantage is the voice quality of the protocol with regards to the quality and reliability of sound. In most cases, data transmitted via the Internet including voice data usually arrives at the specific destination in a scrambled form. While this may not be a significant issue for e-mail or documents, it is a major disadvantage for voice data. The scrambled order of voice data affects the real-time nature of VoIP since some packets may be dropped if they do not arrive in time. Voice quality of VoIP systems is also affected because it is dependent on broadband connection, type of service from the service provider, hardware, and call destination. The quality and reliability of a user’s broadband Internet service and limitations of the computer determine the quality of voice data in these systems.
Voice over Internet Protocol is a revolutionary emerging technology that is gradually transforming the world’s phone system and communications industry. This transformation is attributed to the ability to transmit voice data through Internet protocol or intranet. VoIP achieves this by converting analog audio signals into digital data that can be transmitted over the Internet. This revolutionary technology is associated with several advantages including low cost, portability, and easy integration while its disadvantages include interruptions of continuous service during a power outage and problems with reliability and quality of voice data.
Park, P. (2009, December 17). Eight Benefits of VoIP. Retrieved March 9, 2014, from http://www.enterprisenetworkingplanet.com/unified_communications/eight-benefits-voip
“The Advantages and Disadvantages of VoIP.” (n.d.). Park Communication. Retrieved March 9,
2014, from http://www.parkcommunication.com/voip/the-advantages-and-disadvantages-of-voip.html
Valdes, R. & Roos, D. (n.d.). How VoIP Works. Retrieved March 9, 2014, from http://computer.howstuffworks.com/ip-telephony.htm
“VoIP (Voice over IP).” (n.d.). Tech Target — Search Unified Communications. Retrieved March
9, 2014, from http://searchunifiedcommunications.techtarget.com/definition/VoIP
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