Whether you've been planning a conference call for your business, or chatting with your family over Skype, you've probably heard the term "VoIP" thrown around. The word VoIP is an acronym for Voice over Internet Protocol, or Voice over IP. Simply put, VoIP is a way of talking over the internet. This new method of communication is quickly replacing traditional phone calls in business because of the relative ease of VoIP and the lower costs associated with it.

This revolutionary advance in technology converts analog audio signals into digital data so that it can be transmitted across the internet. VoIP allows you to essentially make a free phone call. Granted, you have to pay the price of an internet connection to use this kind of communication, but instead of two separate bills for the phone and internet, you will consolidate them into one.

VoIP also makes long distance charges a thing of the past. You can talk to your next-door neighbor or to your sister who lives in Chile, and it doesn't make a difference. You'll still get the same high-quality audio at the same low price, depending on which method of VoIP communication you use.

There are a number of ways to communicate using VoIP. You can use your current phone along with an analog telephone adapter (ATA) to convert the signal. There are also web services available that allow you to call from any phone and they will convert the signal for you. These VoIP services are usually available for a flat monthly rate or a pay-per-call fee.

In addition to the aforementioned methods of VoIP, there are also IP phones, which are specifically made to communicate over the internet. Instead of plugging into a traditional phone jack, these VoIP phones use an Ethernet jack. Moreover, you can avoid using the phone completely and just use your computer to call other computers   or even standard telephones.

Another advantage of using VoIP is the quality of the audio. Even with improving technology, sometimes the audio signal is weak when using a telephone, and dropped calls happen more often than we'd like. However, when using the internet to transfer audio data, the voice quality tends to be higher, and the connection more dependable, than that of traditional phone lines.

Nonetheless, there are some disadvantages to using VoIP instead of a standard phone. While most traditional landline phones will still work when there is a power outage, VoIP needs a power supply to function. Additionally, emergency services, such as 911, may have difficulty tracing the call to your location, if needed. Manufacturers are working to improve the few flaws associated with VoIP, but in the meantime, they may prevent some people from switching over.

When the telephone was invented in the late 1800s, those involved with the invention may have felt that they had reached the pinnacle of communication. However, with the development of the internet and the innovations that came along with it, communication has taken another huge stride forward with Voice over Internet Protocol. Using VoIP is a great way to connect your business to its clients or for you to connect to your loved ones. Regardless of how you use it, VoIP has revolutionized the way we talk to one another.

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