Finding Out How VoIP Woks

By: Torrie Cantor

You may want to know how VoIP works. After all, this could be the future of audio communications. Now, VoIP could be used instead of phone lines. So how does this technology work? How can you benefit from it?

Technology - The first step to understanding VoIP is to understand present technology. Our phone lines make use of what is known as circuit switching. Your call is passed through a series of switches until it reaches your recipient and the circuit is opened. In the span of time that you are on the line, the circuit remains open even at times when there is dead air. Even if you are just listening or not talking, the dedicated line is open. Since you are using this particular line, you have to pay for the number of minutes that you have been on it. The dead air is therefore considered a waste that you have to pay for.

How It Functions - VoIP functions differently. There is no circuit switching and no dedicated line. What is present is packet switching. With packet switching, your analog audio data is converted to digital packets. These packets have their own addresses so they know where they have to go. These packets then proceed to the nearest router to the next until it reaches the recipient. Once the recipient gets the packets, it is converted back to audio form.

How It Differs - There is a big difference about how VoIP works. There is obviously no dedicated line. The packets also take different routes depending in which is most accessible. Other routes remain open for the exit or entry of other data packets. There is thus no need to pay for the dead air in which no data is sent. The lack of a dedicated line is what makes VoIP primarily cheaper than traditional phone lines.

How It Connects - Aside from the lesser cost of VoIP, its accessibility is also a major attraction. You can use VoIP whenever and wherever there is internet connection. In our world today, the internet is accessible in almost any place where people are expected to use them. This piece of technology is therefore a big bonus for people who need to travel a lot. You no longer have to spend for long distance calls that can take a big chunk off your budget. VoIP offers the chance to save a lot on the cots of calls.

The Downside - The problem with VoIP though is that it still has a lot of kinks to be worked out. There are still many services that rely on the typical audio communications set-up. One important service for example is 911. When a 911 call is received, there is instant recognition of a caller's exact location. This is still something that isn't possible through VoIP. The packets that are sent simply have IP addresses on them but no physical addresses.

Dependence on Technology - Aside from this downside, VoIP is also prone to the weaknesses of computer technology. Your computer could crash or you could lose packets in the process of transmission. This is a big problem if you are transmitting very important information. Your packet data could also fall victim to viruses and hackers.

On principle, there are great advantages to how VoIP works. There is still a need however, to further improve the technology to ensure that users are satisfied and kept safe.

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