History of 'Voice over Internet Protocol' (VoIP) can be dated back to 1973, when the Advanced Research Projects Agency Network (ARPAnet), the predecessor of today's 'Global Internet', used 'Packet Switching' for voice communication. By the late 1990s it evolved into a standard telephone hooked up to an internet connection. Today, with the introduction of 'Broadband Internet' and improvement in 'Quality of Service', traditional phone lines are slowly being phased out as businesses and households around the world embrace the benefits and features that VoIP technology has to offer.
In existing telephone systems, which use 'circuit switching', when a call is made between two parties, the 'connection' between them is maintained for the duration of the call. This is the basic foundation of the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN). Earlier, every call had to have a dedicated wire stretching from one end to the other for the duration of the call. So, if suppose you wanted to call from Washington DC to San Francisco, you actually owned a cable that long for the duration of the call. Later, with digitalization, your voice along with thousands of others was combined onto a single fiber optic cable for most of the distance, yet there was a dedicated copper wire going through each house. "For more than a hundred years, the PSTN was the only bearer network available for telephony." (PSTN, par.5)
In VoIP, you do not maintain ...
Each 'payload' is then packed in a 'packet' with an address on each one telling the network devices where to send them. The 'packet' is then 'routed' through the internet to the receiving computer, which retrieves the 'payload' and reassembles the 'data' in its original state, which is, in the last networking stage, converted back to 'voice'. Each 'packet' may follow an entirely different path to the destination computer. This makes VoIP very efficient since it lets the network route the packet along the least congested lines. Also, since there is no need for any continuous connection, "it minimizes the time that a connection is maintained between two systems, which reduces the load on the network." (HPSW, par.3) So, if given the liberty to define, we could call VoIP as the 'process of converting voice into data and then sending it via a network'.
The things you would need to get started are:
A 'High Speed' Internet Connection: Depending upon availability, your budget and the amount of telephone traffic, you can choose between many different products.
A VoIP Box: An adaptor that lets you connect your phone to the network.
An Account with a VoIP Provider: That provides real-time two-way voice communication using the Internet Protocol.
An Audio I/O Device OR A Stunning Gizmo: Although to use some of the basic services, you could just get away with your PC with a Speaker and a Microphone, most users are accustomed to a soft phone loaded on a laptop. Wi-Fi enabled mobile phones today provide additional features like multi-call conferencing, video conferencing, internet faxing, web browsing, etc.
Advantages of Using VoIP:
One major advantage of the 'Packet Switching' technology used in VoIP is that it allows multiple phone