How does Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) work?

The internet revolution brought to us the amazing revolution of VoIP. You might be nervous about embracing the new technology because you don’t know what it is and how it works! That’s understandable. To help you get going, let's explore what VoIP is all about.

Woman at work using a business voip phone system

What Does VoIP Stand For?

Voice over Internet Protocol. It’s not the funkiest of titles. It doesn't do justice to how amazing it is. 

Ever since Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone, the technology has basically stayed the same. The telephone companies installed copper wires going to every home and business.

The wires were just used for one thing - telephone calls. But then, along came the internet. These copper wires could now be used to transmit anything from email attachments, movies, picture, and, yes, people's voices.

How Does VoIP Work?

VoIP is something called a “standard”. All that is is a bunch of technical documents that software and hardware companies use to ensure their products work with each other. 

Adding all these standards together produces the most important outcome - how to digitize your voice. The cellphone network has been doing this for decades, and VoIP brings it into your home. 

Why is that important? Once your voice is digitized, it can be sent over the internet.

Getting Started With VoIP

There are three things you need to be able to make VoIP calls.

The first is a bit of a no-brainer - it’s the internet! Any internet account where your WiFi router connection is delivered over a cable will be fine. Be aware though, internet over wireless networks, like via your cell, is a bit of a no-go, unless you have a strong signal and lots of data.

The second is something to speak and listen to the other person with. A laptop or PC is often the first choice. But a gaming headset would be fine. You can also get VoIP phones - they look like regular phones.

Finally, you can use an adapter that converts your regular phone into a VoIP phone. The choice is yours.. The last thing you need is an account with a VoIP provider. These are the companies that do all the magic to connect you with everyone else in the world, whether that's on another VoIP phone, cell phone, or landline, in any country.

Can VoIP Replace My Normal Phone?

Woman in an office conferencing with a voip phone system

Sure it can. VoIP is now used everywhere, from folks at home to massive 10,000 seat call center.  Because VoIP is so attractive in terms of costs, features, and reliability, it's used everywhere these days. Since it is used everywhere, it's very well supported and, for want of a better phrase, “field tested”. 

The landline phone companies themselves use VoIP after your call has reached their local exchange. That means you're most likely using it already without knowing. 

Ten years ago, most experts would have said VoIP was not ready to replace normal phones. However, it certainly is today.

Why Are VoIP Calls So Cheap?

VoIP is delivered over the internet and since the internet is one huge world wide network, there is no concept of long distance calling.

Calling Mumbai is the same as calling Massachusetts. Also, as it piggybacks over the internet, you don’t have to pay for the costs of maintaining a separate infrastructure, like the one that the landline companies need to operate. VoIP is a technology that is open to all. That means the more competition there is in supplying it, the cheaper it is for us customers in consuming it. With so many VoIP options out there, we’ve dissected the top ten. For even more info on what to choose, take a look at our expert, in depth reviews.

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