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Monthly Archives: May 2012

Free calls on the internet

As stated in the previous article, sending your calls over the internet allows you to communicate with others anywhere in the world. But wait… doesn’t a plain old telephone line let you do that too? Of course, but what most people have discovered is that calls using VoIP can be significantly cheaper. However, one thing that you must consider before deploying VoIP for your business, is how suitable your internet connection is.

Two ways your current internet might not be up to the task

1. The Upload Speed Problem

One key to the cost of VoIP resides in the main feature of high-speed internet: its speed (aka bandwidth). The speed is measured two ways: “Download speed” and “Upload speed”. Most internet connections today have a download speed fast enough to support voice and even video streaming (like watching YouTube). That is information being sent “down” to you. For a stream of your likeness to be transmitted “UP” to the internet, the same amount of data must be sent. If the upload speed is not enough, you cannot communicate. Every internet connection, even fiber-optic, has slower upload speed than its download speed, except for a T-1 connection.

2. It’s not the speed, it’s how you use it

This bandwidth/speed must also be reliable, and more specifically, consistent. Unlike common internet uses (loading web pages, checking email, watching online videos), streaming live voice or video cannot be buffered. It is real-time, so any interruption will cause the voice to cut off or the video to freeze.

For example, wireless networks have problems with congestion and interference, so they can have problems delivering a constant stream of information. Living far from major metropolitan areas may be cheaper, but the internet in those areas can be terrible for streaming. You may also run into congestion problems because your bandwidth is shared amongst different users or even your neighbors.

Summary

There lies the first hidden cost of VoIP: Paying for a premium internet connection, at both ends. Where you are located dictates how many options you have, which greatly affects the potential costs. Being informed of this before deployment is crucial. Many times when I encounter a business that is having VoIP problems, it is because the provider and/or the other vendors did not tell them their internet connection was inadequate (whether it is because they were ignorant or deceitful).

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VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol): What is it?

Fortunately, I have realized that I should first write about the basics of VoIP, so that I can reference the information in subsequent posts. This article is intended to give a basic understanding of VoIP, written in a form that most people would understand. This should be an easy task for me because explaining telecommunications to lay-people is a large part of my job.

VoIP is the technology that allows your voice to travel over a data network. An example of a data network is the internet, another example is the local network at your office. Now, you cant just grab a network cable or your mouse and yell into it to use VoIP, you must have a device to translate your voice into “packets” of data. Us phone guys refer to these devices as Media Gateways, which translate voice calls from phone equipment to IP packets. However, your computer is such a device if you use it to talk with people over the internet (like using Skype or Google Chat). At the other end there must be a similar device to translate your voice back to something that can be heard by the human ear. Sending your calls over the internet allows you to communicate with others anywhere in the world, as long as both parties have a reliable and fast enough internet connection.

That’s it for the basics. Other articles will focus on specific subjects as they relate to VoIP.

The purpose of my blog…

First of all, I would like to say that I am not a big fan of “blogs” in general. I have discovered a wonderful mobile app called StumbleUpon, which is a free and easy-to-use electronic replacement for the common genre-specific magazine. However, its indiscriminate theme-based surfing causes me to frequently visit blogs that are clearly written by people who have no business doing so. So before deciding to unleash my own version, I needed to make sure I had a specific purpose, and that the purpose was useful in my professional life (realizing, like more people should, that my personal junk is not suitable for publishing). Individuals and organizations that wish to learn more about telecommunication technologies will hopefully find this blog useful. Cheers!