VoIP basics part 1: an introduction to IP telephony

VoIP offers voice services plus advanced applications that improve productivity and reduce costs. Business VoIP services integrate emerging technologies: cloud computing, unified communications, and more.

by The AT&T Business Editorial Team

You’ve probably heard the term Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), but you may not have thought deeply about its implications. In this three-part blog post series, I offer an introduction to VoIP (this post), discuss quality and speed benefits (part 2), and explore expanding VoIP capabilities (part 3). So let’s get started.

VoIP offers traditional voice services to keep businesses communicating, plus access to advanced applications that potentially help your staff to be more productive and drive possible cost savings. Business VoIP services help integrate emerging technologies such as cloud computing and unified communications – offering cost efficiency, enhanced collaboration, and scalability. By using VoIP, companies are able to unite their many locations and mobile workers into a single converged communications network with a wide range of support services and features.

These Internet protocols are the basis of IP networking that also support corporate, private, public, cable, and even wireless networks. VoIP is usually referred to as IP telephony because it uses Internet protocols to create enhanced voice communications.

Life after POTS

Before VoIP, everyone had to use POTS (or Plain Old Telephone Service). Think of a rotary dial telephone that used the limited but time-tested method of telephone service. In the old circuit-switched network of POTS, talking was all you could do. There was no data shared, no fancy calling features, no video conferencing, and no caller ID. If a phone line went down, the call would not complete.

In the new network world, with voice and data combined, multiple pathways can be set up and information can travel your own network via any of the available routes. VoIP technology enables traditional telephony services to operate over faster data networks. VoIP is an engaging alternative that can help to reduce or eliminate POTS-related costs and enhance productivity because it is faster and more versatile. Which means you can do a lot more with fewer lines.