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Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) comes of age


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VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) was developed primarily to enable free world-wide phone calls over the internet, but there are also other applications that use VoIP such as video calling.

Despite the fact that almost 80% of the UK population has access to the internet, the widespread application of VoIP has not - as yet - replaced the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) or mobile technology as the preferred method of voice communications. This could be due to a number of factors such as trust, security and perceived reliability but all of those barriers are slowly but surely being broken down.

Although a decade ago early adopters of the technology had problems with call quality, recent technological developments have significantly improved the VoIP offering. Dropped calls or common problems such as delay, echo and poor modulation have all been overcome and call quality is similar to that experienced over traditional phones.

In addition, providing two users enable the required technology and software, reliable HD video calls can now be made over VoIP for free; allowing family and friends on opposite sides of the globe to be able to communicate as easily as if they were in the same room.

Audible delay is always quoted as the biggest barrier to effective VoIP communication, but then most international calls made over the PSTN also suffer from the same frustrating delay. However, recent technological developments have significantly reduced this delay when using VoIP, and when it comes to call rates there is simply no competition – VoIP alternatives are much cheaper.

Until recently VoIP was only available via computer to computer technology. However, now there are a number of applications available for smartphones that allow users with connection to WiFi to be able to communicate via VoIP, by-passing their mobile operators’ network charges. Obviously, offering such applications over 3G would be using the mobile network and that is why they are only available via WiFi. Using such application and device combinations allows total communications solutions from just about anywhere in the world.

For example, log into your VoIP application on your iphone3Gs in a WiFi zone or on your home WiFi and you can call landlines and in some countries mobile numbers too on an unlimited worldwide basis for a monthly fee under £8. Using the same device and calling the same numbers via the mobile network would cost considerably more!

Even if you are an aural purist and think that VoIP call quality simply won’t match that of landlines, the cost benefit more than compensates for the slight differential. Indeed, anyone who won’t use VoIP for that reason can be accused of cutting off their nose to spite their face.


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