VoIP Telephony Part 1 of 3:
Last year when I was in the Bahamas, I saw some people using an online telephone company called Skype to call loved ones back here at home. The phone call is connected through the internet, and for mere pennies per minute, you can use a microphone hooked up to your desktop, or other IP telephone accessories, and get cheap telephone calls through VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) technology and programs. Now I know that Skype has a single payment for unlimited calls for a year, but other companies may have competitive pricing. You can look it up for yourself.
I didn’t know what VoIP was, or anything related to the matter, all I knew was that there was a way of calling home without the roaming charges that came with using my cell phone out of the country. The VoIP calls home to my family were clear, cheap, and easy to make. After discovering that making phone calls over the Internet was possible (and a whole lot cheaper), I freely called home during the last few days I was out of the country.
Wikipedia explains that “Voice over Internet Protocol, also called VoIP, IP Telephony, Internet telephony, Broadband telephony, Broadband Phone, and Voice over Broadband is the routing of voice conversations over the Internet or through any other IP-based network. If you’ve used Ventrilo, or built-in voice chats on online video games (i.e. Counter-strike Source, Battlefield 2), then you’ve used a form of VoIP. VoIP telephony is a bit different. With a gaming VoIP, you need a server to host your conversations, and your computer. There are companies, like Vonage, that will charge you for services, but you won’t need your computer to make the call. These companies are known as Internet telephony service provider (ITSP). In the subscription bundle, you should receive an analog telephone adapter (ATA), which connects your router to your analog phone. The ATA acts as the middleman to connect your phone to the ITSP through your broadband connection. You can be assigned a number, keep your old number, or even a new one with a different area code.
The beauty of VoIP telephony is that you can, for instance, have a number local to New York while living in LA. This allows people you know in New York to make a “local call” to you, and vice versa. If you have an IP Telephone, pretty much like a cell phone, you can walk around with that phone number. The phone is connected to an assigned IP address, so it’s the same as using the phone at home. Hence, that local New York number you had is with you everywhere you go, as long as you have your IP telephone. For example, if you travel to Europe, you can be reached through your IP Telephone and the person calling you from New York will connect to you as if you were in New York.
There are companies, like ViaTalk, that offer traditional telephone features in their service, which include e911 caller ID, voicemail, and fax service. The possibilities are endless for features. Call forwarding from a VoIP line to your standard cell phone is an option that’s coming into its own, thanks to FirstHandTech. This can come in handy for business execs, or sales staff, that are out of their offices on a regular basis. Whoever’s answering the phone for them back at the office can patch the call directly to their cell phone with FirstHand Technologies.
Can there be a possibility a corporate synergy between ITSP companies and phone companies in the future? The Internet and telephones merging together is a product of the Great Communication Age we currently live in. One can only wonder what else lies ahead in the future. Come back next week and I’ll fill you in on some pretty cool VoIP telephony ideas in the works.