VoIP - Digital Post Cards

Several people have argued the relevance of the Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) technology and consider it as the best communication option there is. But how can they make such statement? What distinct edge does it give which is absent in the traditional telephone system? To help identify with those people, it is but imperative to first know how the innovated technology works.

Voice over IP is simply conversation (or voice transmission) via the internet. What's uniquely good and beneficial in VoIP is its capability to send voice in packets, which are like postal cards sent through the mail, as how the Father of Internet Vint Cerf describes it. They are like a puzzle where each postal card carries limited information and requires the other cards for the full message to be assembled and completed, producing one long note which is the complete picture. However, before having the complete puzzle of message, a number of steps are required.

Sampling of audio must first be done via the computer. This is a process of recording and then storing the tiny piece/s of audio. But in VoIP, the audio pieces are sent over the IP network instead of storing them in the computer. Upon receipt on the other end of the line, the audio pieces are converted into a compatible format for the recipient's device which may be another computer or a telephone, so that the receiver may be able to get and listen to the complete recording.

Take note that before the audio pieces are sent to the other end, it should be compressed to lessen the required space for the file. This would promote a smooth, fast and uninterrupted transport over the IP network or web. Compressing audio files is done through a compressor/decompressor (CODEC). Simply put, the CODEC's are there to minimize and decrease the bandwidth of files, then gather and combine them to form full bigger chunks and eventually squeeze them into data packets, hence, a better transmission. Typical IP packets contain about 10 milliseconds worth of audio each. Numerous CODEC's are accessible which can be used not only for VoIP, but also for videos, photos and other multimedia files.

Finally, VoIP can only be successful with the cooperation of the other end of the line. The receiving party should of course be able to receive and read the sent digital audio pieces in the IP packets; otherwise, communication via VoIP becomes useless and futile.

Two means may be executed to make the above possible and successful, but it would be dependent on the user's receiving device. If they are receiving the IP packets digitally (includes the internet), just like Skype, the files may automatically be read. However, if the data are obtained through an analog technology (e.g. telephone, cellphone), there must exist a converter to convert the digital files to a signal readable by the analog device of the user.

So, are you convinced that the Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) technology is the best human innovation ever?