The way the mankind used to communicate at long distances has been evolved greatly in the last centuries. The traditional methods are replaced by many new technically sound substitutes because of a number of drawbacks. We have now realized that the analog sound has to be transmitted digitally in order to keep up its original quality. There are a number of ways among which the VoIP is one of the most successful trends in use today. Though VoIP is still not the primary mode of communication as it also has its share of advantages and disadvantages, nevertheless it is the most preferred method for long distance connections.
What is VoIP?
VoIP is an abbreviated form of Voice over Internet Protocol. It basically converts the analog audio signals to digital signal in order to allow its transmission which can take place from a few miles to thousands of kilometers. An analog signal contains time-varying quantities. It usually represents electrical signals but may also contain hydraulic, human speech, mechanical, and other systems to be considered as analog.
3 types of VoIP services
Analog Telephone Adaptor – It is a device using which a standard phone can be connected to the computer or the Internet connection with VoIP. ATA acts as an analog-to-digital converter, that is, it takes the analog signal from the phone and converts into digital data so that it could be transmitted over the Internet.
Internet Protocol Phones – They look just like regular handsets containing cradle and buttons but they have RJ-45 Ethernet phone connector instead of standard RJ-11. These IP phones can be connected directly to the router and keep all the necessary hardware and software to handle the IP calls.
Computer-to-computer – This is the most preferred and easiest way to use the VoIP. One does not have to pay for the long-distance calls. The kinds of software that support this service are usually free of cost or of very low cost. The configurations that you require are – software, speakers, a microphone, a sound card, and a fast Internet connectivity via cable or DSL modem.
How does VoIP work?
It is highly likely that a user makes a VoIP call each time they make a long-distance call without their awareness as phone companies streamline their networks through it to establish a successful connection. The bandwidth can be greatly reduced by routing thousands of calls via circuit switch and then into an IP gateway. The moment the call is received by gateway on the other side, it is decompressed, reassembled, and then sent to a local circuit switch to enable the establishment of communication. So basically, one could say that it is a combination of circuit and packet switching with lots of other protocols to avoid hurdles that might be encountered.
The packet-switching technology is the future of IP telephony. In this, the data is divided into small packets, each of which follow different paths and “know” where to go. In other words, these packets have addresses written. Once they reach their destination they are all reassembled to take out meaningful information. The Internet, in general, works in that manner regardless of the type of data, be it audio, video, text, or any other kind of graphical material. When it comes to live streaming, one can imagine how swift it is to make sense about the whole communication thing! Moreover, the infrastructure is flexible and the price is affordable for long run.
If one has a broadband connectivity or a WiFi installed nearby, they can make VoIP connection. This is because the IP phones broadcast their info over the Internet and then can be supervised by the concerned service provider at a particular location wherever there is a connection. A typical VoIP includes the following:
- Caller ID
- Call waiting
- Call transfer
- Repeat dial
- Return call
- Conference call
The above inclusions are there if one makes a normal call as well which charges extra unnecessarily.
The traditional circuit switching establishes the connection between two parties for limited range of time. A few decades back there used to be literal copper wire that would stretch across thousands of miles to enable the transmission of a phone call. At present, the copper wires don’t stretch the whole way but limited at particular localities as the voice is digitized and transmitted through fibre optics to function faster and be more efficient.
When it comes to the Web, it is quite impractical to establish a dedicated connection for two or more parties to contact else it would be a lot slower. If two people are talking to each other it is quite obvious that one party speaks and other listens. This means that only half of the connection is in use at a time. So, one can cut the file in half. Moreover, there comes a few seconds in between when neither party speaks, which is basically dead air and that in turn can further reduce the file size. Therefore, instead of sending continuous stream of data that includes both noisy and silent data, if the packets of only noisy bytes are sent the result would be far better.
As said earlier, the dedicated path of all the fragmented data (packets) cannot be just one but thousands of possible (available, least congested, cheapest) paths, thereby allowing it to flow fast as possible. These packets go through many routers to finally arrive at the destination, provided that the computer from where they started and each router that they went through forget these packets once they are transmitted further. Once the recipient computer get all the packets it uses instructions (Transmission Control Protocol, aka TCP, also responsible for cutting the whole information into chunks) to reassemble the data to their original state.
While talking to another person, the packets are sent back-and-forth. The ATAs at each end point translate back the packets to their original analog audio signal that one can hear and easily understand; and that procedure is repeated throughout.
The main drawback of Voice over Internet Protocol is that it needs really high Internet connectivity to successfully enable two or more parties communicate with each other. If that is not there, one should not expect that talking could be possible without hurdles. VoIP hasn’t yet entirely replaced the traditional telephone system because of obvious reasons. This implies that important calls that have to be made due to an emergency require certainty that the connection would be made and the crucial message would be transmitted for sure. In addition to this, it is mandatory for electricity to continue its supply in case of VoIP, whereas the traditional phone line works even in the absence of it.
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