Voice over IP (VoIP), also known as Internet Telephony, is a communication protocol for delivering voice communications over the internet.
VoIP (pronounced either as initials V-O-I-P or as an acronym voyp) is the term used to describe web applications, desktop computer applications, and communication service providers who use the Internet to transmit communication services rather than the public switched telephone network.
VoIP services are accessed in a variety of ways. Some VoIP applications are free applications that enable voice and video conferencing over the web. Other VoIP services can be used to establish traditional telephone service that includes fax and voicemail service. VoIP is also used by some mobile phone service providers to deliver text messages in addition to voice communications.
The services offered by VoIP providers are also varied. Some VoIP services are accessible as web applications, others are apps installed on smartphones, some VoIP services are desktop applications, and some provide telephone service that is virtually indistinguishable from traditional telephone service.
The communication services offered by VoIP service providers include:
- Voice and video calls between users are available from desktop, web, and smartphone apps such as Google Hangouts, Skype, and Viber.
- Calls to mobile and landline phone numbers are supported by provides such as Google Hangouts, Skype, and MagicApp.
- Many applications that support video calling also offer screen sharing. Google Hangouts and Skype are two services that offer this service.
- Landline service for consumers, including voice calls and voicemail, is offered by companies such as Vonage, Ooma, and MagicJack.
- Business communication services, such as video conferencing, voice calling, voicemail, screen sharing, and fax service, are offered by companies including Skype, Vonage, Google Hangouts, and Fonality.
Also See: How to Make Internet Calls
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Wi-Fi calling the same thing as VoIP?
Wi-Fi calling and VoIP are two different options that both allow a user to make a phone call even when there is no cell phone signal as long as the user has an Internet connection. While similar in concept, Wi-Fi calling and VoIP are not the same things. Wi-Fi calling occurs when a phone call is connected to a mobile phone service provider's network over Wi-Fi rather than by use of cell towers. Ultimately, the mobile phone service provider's network carries the call, just the connection to the network is made over Wi-Fi. VoIP, on the other hand, sends the communication over the Internet, and bypasses the cell carrier's network entirely.
Is VoIP use increasing? What are the current trends in VoIP use?
VoIP is exploding in growth as a communication infrastructure for businesses. Nearly 80% of businesses make use of VoIP telephones at one or more locations.
Are VoIP services free?
Many VoIP powered voice and video calling services are free, especially between users of the same service. This is true of services such as Google Hangouts, Skype, and Viber, which all enable free voice and video calls between service users. Some applications, notably Google Hangouts, also offer free phone calls from the application to US and Canada phone numbers, whether or not the person receiving the call is a user of the service. Most other VoIP services, including business communication service, traditional landline voice calling and voicemail service, and calling international phone numbers, does incur an additional cost which varies from one service provider to the next.