Voice Over IP (VoIP) is an alternative way to contact people around the globe by routing voice signals over IP Networks such as company intranets or the Internet.
The basic principle is pretty simple; it is essentially the same technology that is used to stream music across the internet. Voice sounds are picked up by a microphone and digitised by the sound card. The audio is then compressed using an audio codec. This works by removing redundant and unneeded data, while maintaining the legibility of the audio, to make the stream compact enough to be sent in real time over the network.
The term codec is short for “enCODer/DECoder”. The sounds are encoded at the sending end, sent over the network and then decoded at the receiving end, where they are played back over speakers or a headset.
Each user of the service registers with an intermediate server, which maintains a record of their IP address all the time they are connected. A small application can be installed on each user’s PC, which manages this data in conjunction with the server. Using an intermediate server eases the problem of getting VOIP to work through firewalls as many firewalls block any data from the Internet that is not sent in response to a specific request.
The only requirements for VoIP are a network connection between the two computers of an adequate speed, and matching codecs at each end. Regular PCs equipped with microphones, sound cards, headsets and a broadband connection will be compatible and we can set up the rest!
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