Meet VoIP: introducing telephone's new look.

Author:Lebeda, Guy

How It Works

Reached out and touched someone though Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) lately? Though still in the starting-up phase, VoIP, many telecom experts agree, will soon claim more and more of the business telecommunications market. Nationally, VoIP systems are being installed in businesses at about the same rate as other systems.

Some common terms used in a discussion about VoIP:

POTS Plain Old Telephone System. Enough said. Why, do you suppose, they needed an acronym for THAT?

VOIP Voice over Internet Protocol. This is the capability to carry normal telephone-style voice communications over an IP-based network with POTS-like functionality, reliability, and voice quality. VoIP enables a router to carry voice traffic (for example, telephone calls and faxes) over an IP network. In VoIP, the digital signal processor (DSP) segments the voice signal into "frames," which then are coupled in groups of two and stored in voice packets. These voice packets are transported over the network.

CODEC: Coder-decoder. This is a DSP software algorithm used to compress/decompress speech or audio signals.

Since VoIP is built to operate over typical Local Area Networks (LANs) to go all the way to your desktop, it may be useful to think of VoIP as more of an application of your company's computer network than as a service you purchase from a provider such as the phone company. VoIP protocols have evolved with this model in mind, and are continually adding features to the telephone service from the world of computer networks.

Rather than using two telephones and a normal (or POTS) line like the one at your home, VoIP runs off a network. A system that is always operating in the background makes it possible for you to surf the Web, or use other network applications, while you are having a conversation on the same digital connection.

We called Kendall Brinkerhoff of ViaWest to explain the system. ViaWest leases VoIP to customers that share office space with ViaWest in the Canopy Campus in Lindon. Brinkerhoff feels that VoIP has many advantages over POTS, starting with cost.

"Because it's network based, that means that once you paid your installation costs, then there is no permanent charge like there would be with a traditional phone line, as long as you are keeping it inside your network," he says.

For example, ViaWest has these same phones in their Salt Lake facility and so the Lindon office can dial Salt Lake through an extension, rather than dial a...

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