A quick look at VoIP

VoIP, or Voice over Internet Protocol, is a technology that allows you to make calls over the internet instead of traditional phone lines or cellular connections. Although its name suggests that it only enables voice calls, modern VoIP services are far more capable and can offer video calls, file transfer, group calls, and much more. It's also referred to as IP telephony or internet telephony.

VoIP calls can be made using computers, smartphones, tablets, special VoIP phones, traditional phones connected to an adapter, and other internet-connected devices. Some of the most popular implementations of VoIP technology are found in consumer-grade applications like FaceTime, Google Voice, Skype, and WhatsApp. However, it’s also used by businesses for their communication needs.

In VoIP calling, your analog voice signal is converted into a digital signal and transmitted over the internet using data packets. It first reaches your VoIP service provider, who then routes it to the receiver, where it’s converted back to a voice signal. The receiver can be anyone: a user of the same VoIP service, a mobile phone, or someone with a landline, as long as the VoIP supports calling them.

VoIP services convert a user’s voice from audio signals to digital data, in which that data is then sent to another user – or group of users – over Ethernet or Wi-Fi. To accomplish this, VoIP will use codecs. Codecs are either a hardware- or software-based process that compresses and decompresses large amounts of VoIP data. Voice quality may suffer when compression is used, but compression reduces bandwidth requirements. Equipment vendors will also use their own proprietary codecs.

In general, the provision of VoIP telephony systems to organizational or individual users can be divided into two primary delivery methods: private or on-premises solutions, or externally hosted solutions delivered by third-party providers. While many use cases still remain for private or on-premises VoIP systems, the wider market has been shifting toward Cloud or Hosted VoIP solutions.

VoIP solutions aimed at businesses have evolved into unified communications services that treat all communications—phone calls, faxes, voice mail, e-mail, web conferences, and more—as discrete units that can all be delivered via any means and to any handset, including cell phones.

For most people, VoIP calling typically means opening up a VoIP app on their internet-connected smartphone and calling a contact. It's called software-based VoIP and is available via dozens of apps on all popular platforms, including Android, iOS, macOS, and Windows. Some popular VoIP apps are Facebook Messenger, FaceTime, Google Duo, Signal, Telegram, and WhatsApp Messenger.

Hardware-based VoIP services require a special VoIP phone or analog telephone adapters (ATA) connected to a regular landline phone. Both connect to your router to access the internet and provide the calling functionality. In the case of hardware-based VoIP services, you are typically allotted a virtual phone number, or you can port an existing number.

One of the key reasons why people gravitate towards VoIP calling is its cost-effective nature. You either get to make free calls, or when you are paying for it, its overall cost is lower than traditional landline or cellular calls. Depending on which device or service you use to make a VoIP call, you can access group calls, video calls, call recording, customizable caller ID, and much more.

Some of the benefits of VoIP include: cost savings, quality sound, customizable features and lower international rates. However, there are some challenges to consider. If someone travels for work, a high-speed connection may be necessary. Compression reduces bandwidth requirements, but voice quality can suffer. Power outages may prevent some services from working. Some VoIP service providers don’t offer directory assistance or a way to connect to emergency services.

Most importantly, not all VoIP providers support calling emergency services by dialing 911. Additionally, as internet connectivity is a vital part of the VoIP service, you won't be able to make a call or receive it in case of an internet outage. VoIP services are also at risk of eavesdropping and cyberattacks unless your service provider has put proper safeguards in place, including encryption.

The VoIP E911 emergency-calling system associates a physical address with the calling party’s telephone number. All VoIP providers that provide access to the public switched telephone network are required to implement E911, a service for which the subscriber may be charged. The VoIP E911 system is based on a static table lookup. The VoIP E911 information is accurate only if subscribers keep their emergency address information current.

Glow’s role

Here at Glow, we make sure that there is uninterrupted network coverage, resulting in top quality VoIP services. Even in the case of natural disasters, you can always rely on our networks to perform at peak connectivity. We believe in putting the client first!

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