What is VoIP , How Does it Work and Types of VoIP?

VoIP has been termed as one of the successful technologies since the last decade. It has revolutionized the voice calling worldwide. Thanks to VoIP, making a phone call (and at times, to make a call you don’t even have to involve a phone) convenient and cheaper or even free for the users. All you need is a computer or a smartphone, a good internet connection and you’re good to go with calling from anywhere in the world to anyone in the world.

What’s VoIP?

What does VoIP stand for

In simple terminology, Voice over the internet Protocol (VoIP) is a technology through which voice is transmitted over a digital Internet Protocol networks. It is a method for taking analog audio signals, the one typically used in POTS (plain old telephone service) and turning them into digital data that can be transmitted over the Internet. Often pronounced as VoIP, it refers to as IP telephony (IPT) and the internet calling as well. That’s because it uses Internet protocols with improved voice communications. The Internet protocols are the basis of IP networking, which supports corporate, private, public, cable, and even wireless networks. VoIP encompasses a group of protocol technologies. Skype and Google Talk are the examples of VoIP applications.


How Does VoIP Work?

Here is how VoIP works:

  • With VoIP, analog voice calls are converted into packets of data to operate over computer networks. The packets travel like any other type of data, such as e-mail, over the public Internet and/or any private Internet Protocol (IP) network. These packets are delivered to their destination in real time.
  • VoIP packet includes both the caller’s and the receiver’s network addresses. It is applicable to landline, cell phone or calls between computers where both the caller and speaker can speak through a computer microphone and listen through computer speakers or headsets.
  • In case a person has a traditional analog or digital phone the “packets” are then converted back to a regular telephone signal.
  • You can also make or receive calls using landline telephones. However, it is required to have an analog telephone adapter connected to your network.
How Does VoIP Work?
How VoIP works

Types of VoIP

There are four different kinds of VoIP:

  • Peer to Peer (P2P)In this type of VoIP, a connection is a setup in more or less direct way with the second party computer, across the Internet. In P2P calls, the traditional telephone network, the public switched telephone network (PSTN) is not used
  • VoIP OutIt is a service where calls can be made from the VoIP network to the public switched telephone network PSTN
  • VoIP InIn VoIP, calls can be made from the PSTN to the VoIP service using a telephone number.
  • Two-way VoIPIn a two-way VoIP, calls can be made both ways between the VoIP service and the PSTN using telephone numbers.

Pros & Cons of VoIP

Pros of VoIP

  • Cost savingVoIP helps you in financial savings. As VoIP transmits voice calls over the Internet instead of a telephone line, it significantly drops cost for per-call. You just require a broadband Internet connection (DSL or cable) to make PC-to-PC phone calls for free. In case of a PC-to-phone calls, there’s usually a small charge for this but still, it is low-cost than the regular phone service.
  • PortabilityThe best thing about VoIP is that it is not distance or location dependent. Traditional phone systems are tied to a telephone line whereas cell phone carriers charge astronomical prices for the international roaming. However, as far as VoIP is concerned, distance is not a barrier. All you require is a computer/laptop/mobile phone, the VoIP software and a wireless connection to start making calls from anyplace and it wouldn’t make any difference at all, in terms of  cost and connectivity.
  • Choice of NumberA VoIP phone number is completely portable as you aren’t tied to any specific geographical location with VoIP. It is also usually known as a virtual number because you can take it with you anywhere you go. Even if you are running a business from one state, your phone number can reflect another area code. It made it possible for business owners to take their whole business with them wherever they travel.

There are several other advantages associated with the VoIP such as rich media service, low initial investment, and flexibility it offers.

Cons of VoIP

Just in case VoIP is starting to sound too good for you, let’s look into its disadvantages:

  • Goes out of service during a power outages Traditional phone lines are kept in service by the current supplied through the phone lines even during power outage. This is not possible with IP phone as it needs electricity to run. Hence, when the power goes out, so does the VOIP phone service. To ensure that VoIP is running during a power outage, an uninterruptible power supply or a generator is required on the premises.
  • No emergency calls One of the most important concerns with VOIP involves emergency 911 calls. Emergency services in the U.S. rely on area code identifiers in NANP numbers to locate you in the case of an emergency. This isn’t possible with VoIP because a voice-over-IP call is basically a transfer of data between two IP addresses, not physical addresses. Hence, with VoIP, for now, there is difficult to determine where the VoIP phone call is originating from.
  • Performance Issue VoIP relies on the internet connection; therefore, the quality and reliability of the internet connection directly affect the performance of VoIP. A slow internet connection may result in performance issues such as garbled or distorted voice quality. For VoIP to be effective, a fast broadband service is required to enjoy high-quality phone call.

VoIP Vs. Traditional landline system

Landline system typically refers to a telephone that uses solid core, twisted pair copper wire, and plugs into a two or four pin wall jack. It hasn’t changed much since its invention in the 19th century. Unlike VoIP, it only offers a basic set of features such as call waiting, caller ID, voicemail, or call blocking. Whereas, VoIP relies on the internet and converts calls into digital signals. VoIP doesn’t depend on the physical exchanges like the way landlines do. It offers wider and more useful set of features that can be highly beneficial for the business and corporate offices in their day-to-day communications. In terms of features, technology, and cost, VoIP is a far better option. However, in terms of reliability, landline system still is preferable because VoIP relies on the good internet speed. Moreover, viruses and malware, denial of service attacks are possible on VoIP thus it can raise serious security concerns.


VoIP is rapidly growing since its invention in the mid-90s with millions of users are now relying on VoIP on daily basis due to the huge number of benefits it offers. With time, as VoIP is becoming more mature and providing an improvement over the drawbacks, phenomenal growth is expected to see in the VoIP technology.

References and sources:

  1. http://www.acma.gov.au/Industry/Telco/Carriers-and-service-providers/VOIP/voip-for-service-providers-emergency-calls-i-acma
  2. http://searchunifiedcommunications.techtarget.com/tutorial/Learning-Guide-How-does-VoIP-work#3.4
  3. https://fortistelecom.net/voip/voip-vs-landline-difference/
  4. http://www.streetdirectory.com/travel_guide/120670/voip/advantages_and_disadvantages_of_voip.html

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