by : Steve Valentino

For over a hundred years, traditional phones have enhanced the communication. When this medium crossed the oceanic borders, it set a revolution by bridging the distance amongst humans in real time. Toward the end of the last century, the arrival of Internet pushed the revolution by transmitting data, both text and visual, among computers. The amalgamation of the traditional phone system and the borderless world of web have advanced the communication capabilities of mankind.

The transmission of voice over Internet has been technically termed as Voice over Internet protocol. Protocol is a method by which data is transmitted between computers using unique IP address. Traditional phones work by converting voice into analog signals and then transmitting the signals through cable. Voice over Internet Protocol, or VoIP, works by converting analog signals into digital signals as the transmission of data is done over the Internet digitally by chunking the voice into units of 0s and 1s.

VoIP calls can be made through traditional phones and IP phones. For traditional phones, one needs an Analog Telephone Adaptor (ATP) to convert analog to digital signals. With IP phones, all one needs to do is to hook up a microphone to the computer. Besides these, there should be an internet connection provided by the ISP and software to enable voice transmission.

Once the call is placed, the computer sends the voice to the router of VoIP provider. The router identifies the IP address of the called party's service provider and sends it. The latter completes the call by connecting the call to the called party.

According to Forrester research group, there will be five million VoIP users in the US by 2006. VoIP is preferred over phones because of lower costs and increased functionality—that is, the calls can be placed from anywhere by plugging into the network. Just like any other evolving technology, however, VoIP faces many hurdles in the form of regulation of services and quality, and it will take sometime before it replaces the conventional phones.