If you have read any newspapers or surfed the Internet, you have probably come across Voice over Internet Protocol, or VoIP. This is a relatively new and rapidly growing means of communication. In the crudest of terms, it is a phone connection running through the Internet instead of the standard phone lines. There are many advantages to using VoIP over the standard phone lines, but also many issues that need to be worked out. If you are curious about what VoIP is, how it works, and any advantages then this article is a must read for you.
The way it works is very similar to how your computer works. When a computer sends data through a network, it sends it in packets which are transmitted and received by the computer on the other side of the network. This is the same way VoIP phones work. Instead of the traditional telephone lines, VoIP use your existing network connection. It creates audio packets and sends them to whoever you are talking to on the phone.
This means that you could have multiple phone numbers running at the same time and not face the need for additional phone lines that add up. You merely need a VoIP phone (or you could use your computer); simply connect it to the broadband router instead of a traditional phone jack. It is fairly simple, but it does require a new phone. If you still are running 56k, you need to upgrade to broadband to take advantage of VoIP.
Once it leaves your router it is on its journey to the person you're calling. This is where things get tricky for the people running the VoIP companies. The first issue your call will face is bandwidth. If Tommy is streaming music and Sammy is streaming video, and you're trying to talk on a VoIP phone, you're going to be hurting for bandwidth. This leads to latency issues and possible packet loss. This means you will get jitters and fragments for your phone call.
Even if you have tons of bandwidth available and have to bounce your call off a few satellites, it might take a few milliseconds more which cause delays and jitters. We are pushing all those audio packets through networks all over, but unlike downloading, if one packet gets there before the others, we are going to get words out of order and even more jitters and fragments. If things don't sound bad enough, there isn't currently any type of encryption, so anyone can hack their way into your conversation without much difficultly.
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