Written by Charles Peacock
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VOIP is an acronym that stands for "Voice Over Internet Protocol." This technology allows you to make phone calls without the use of a traditional phone line. Let's take a look at how VOIP technology works, and what you need to do to use it.

VOIP is an Internet-Based Telephone

VOIP (also known as Internet Voice) is relatively new technology, and it only truly became an alternative to traditional phone service with the recent advent of broadband technology. Because Internet Voice requires a high level of bandwidth to operate, any user must have a telephone or computer hooked up to a broadband connection. Cable internet, DSL, and T1 connections can be used for IP-based calls, but slow dial-up connections and traditional cellular-based wireless internet connections can not.

Internet Voice works by converting an analog voice signal into digital packets. These packets are then transferred via the Internet or a corporate network to another VOIP or traditional phone user. Internet Voice thus allows you to make calls without having to use a normal phone line. That doesn't mean you can't use a normal phone, however--Internet Voice converters are available that allows you to plug your normal phone directly into a broadband connection.

If you are using Internet Voice, you can still in many cases call people with a regular phone number. In these situations, your IP-based digital call is routed to a server that transfers the end of the call to a normal telephone switching station, and then to the other person's traditional analog telephone. The cheapest (and most useful) Internet Voice calls, however, are those made directly between two people using VOIP technology.

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