The Lowdown on VoIP

by : Mike Schuda

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

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

VoIP technology has many advantages. There are more new featureswith VoIP because of the lack of an InternationalTelecommunications Union. VoIP is still very much an open marketfor developers, so the technology is constantly being improved.VoIP also has a lower cost than traditional sources because ofthe monopolies that exist or traditional phone companies beingcontrolled by the government. Some users even see VoIP phonecalls as free because they do not have to pay extra for theservice. The user only pays the Internet service provider, andtherefore the usage of VoIP seems to be free. You can also takeyour VoIP phone wherever you go because all you need is anetwork connection to make it work. VoIP technology will alsobenefit network agents who work for call centers. Agents canhelp callers from anywhere in the country with an Internetconnection. Finally, because VoIP is on the computer, there isincreased functionality. Conference calls can be held,information can be sent, and things like address books can beupdated and shared over VoIP.

While VoIP has many advantages, there are a few drawbacks to theservice. One of the biggest drawbacks is reliability. Telephonelines have back up generators in case of power outages, sophones can keep working. Because VoIP is connected to theInternet, a power outage will end a VoIP call when the computershuts down. To combat this, users must buy an expensiveuninterruptible power supply or a generator that must then beinstalled on the premises. Internet connections are also subjectto disconnection, depending on crowded networks, and the qualityof the ISP. If the Internet connection drops, then the VoIP callwill 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 someonewith an emergency has a problem but is unable to give anaddress, the emergency worker will not be able to trace the calland find the person. VoIP carriers are already attempting to fixthis 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) hasa common standard, VoIP does not.

VoIP has many advantages as well as some large drawbacks. Themain roadblock in the way of global VoIP adoption isreliability. When VoIP proves that it can be just as reliable astraditional telephone services have been over many years, thenit will start to be adopted. VoIP technology is alwaysimproving, so the problems with VoIP today are likely to besolved sooner than many people expect. VoIP can trulyrevolutionize both the business world and home life.