What is Voice over IP (VoIP)?

By Hal Werner

Voice over IP (VoIP) is a methodology and group of technologies for the delivery of voice communications and multimedia sessions over Internet Protocol (IP) networks, such as the Internet.

The steps and principles involved in originating VoIP telephone calls are similar to traditional digital telephony and involve signaling, channel setup, digitization of the analog voice signals, and encoding. Instead of being transmitted over a circuit-switched network, however, the digital information is packetized, and transmission occurs as IP packets over a packet-switched network. Such transmission entails careful considerations about resource management different from time-division multiplexing (TDM) networks.

VoIP allows both voice and data communications to be run over a single network, which can significantly reduce infrastructure costs. VoIP devices have simple, intuitive user interfaces, so users can often make simple system configuration changes. Dual-mode phones enable users to continue their conversations as they move between an outside cellular service and an internal Wi-Fi network, so that it is no longer necessary to carry both a desktop phone and a cellphone. VoIP is available on many smartphones, personal computers, and on Internet access devices.