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VoIP explained

VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) allows you to make and receive phone calls as long as you have a suitable Internet connection to support it whether that be broadband or mobile data. Any voice call over the Internet is a VoIP call. For example, as well as VoIP offerings such as ours, WhatsApp and Skype calls are also VoIP calls.

SIP (Session Initiation Protocol) is the protocol used to initiate VoIP communications in real-time. It allows you to maintain, modify and terminate each voice connection. As a signalling protocol, it is used when two or more endpoints communicate with each other via voice, video or messaging.

VoIP and SIP both refer to Internet telephony.

VoIP describes the type of phone call, while SIP is the industry standard method used to enable VoIP calls between devices.

RTP (Real Time Protocol) is protocol that allows the actual audio of a VoIP phone call to be heard at either end. This payload is a continuous stream of packets that traverses the network. Most calls involve two streams: One for each endpoint. Thus, each endpoint is transmitting a stream of packets to the remote endpoint as well as receiving a stream from the remote endpoint.

RTCP (Real Time Control Protocol) provides feedback on the quality of the data distribution being accomplished by RTP. It is not needed for RTP to work, it simply accompanies it. RTCP enables administrators to monitor the quality of a call session by tracking packet loss, latency (delay), jitter, and other key VoIP concerns. This information is provided on a periodic basis to both ends and is processed per call by the media gateways.

VoIP System Components

A VoIP system works by using packet switching technology that converts analogue voice signals into digital data. This means that sound waves (your voice) are converted into digital data, enabling you to use the internet as a communication method for phone calls. Examples of systems and associated technologies include:

  • PBX (Private Branch eXchange) phone systems are common items in a business. They allow you to facilitate the making and receiving of multiple phone calls, as well as handle voicemail, music on hold and the routing of calls between associated phones. Traditionally a business would have a physical PBX in their office. The PBX would utilise an ISDN line, for example, to facilitate calls. A IP PBX can be physical or virtual, and instead of utilising ISDN they would use a SIP Trunk (think of it as a virtual phone line) to facilitate the calls.
  • Virtual PBXs are commonly known as Hosted VoIP. They provide all the functionality of a traditional PBX without the physical presence. The phones which connect to the Hosted VoIP can be anywhere in the world, just as long as you have an Internet connection. We are providing a hosted VoIP solution as a service, however there are other software applications, such as 3CX or Asterisk, which allow you to install and run your own PBX from a computer.
  • VoIP desk phone. It works by registering with a phone system to make the system aware that it is present and ready to receive or make calls. The registration is handled normally with a username and password, so similar in principle to a router authenticating for broadband access.
  • VoIP softphone. This is software which can be installed on a desktop or mobile device replicating the functionality of a VoIP desk phone. The softphone can be associated to a Hosted VoIP or IP PBX arrangement.

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