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The goal of telecommunications technology is providing convergence services. Empowering this solution is VoIP - Voice over Internet Protocol. This solution has dramatically enhanced Internet and multimedia capabilities, and provided better, dependable real-time communication than ever. In this essay, I hope to share you a vision of media convergence, and why VoIP brings the promises of media convergence.
The most noticeable change in Internet communications in past few years has been the appearance of the VoIP migration to a Converged Services environment. "Media convergence service is a concept in which old and new media intersect. Convergence of media occurs when multiple products come together to form one product with the advantages of all of them." In its essence, media convergence refers to the ability to bring a complete solution that satisfies customer requirements. Convergence involves data, voice, and multimedia; VoIP is the primary driver in the convergent services because VoIP provides a complete multimedia communications solution based on the inherent packet switching capabilities of an IP network.
VoIP technology was first introduced in 1995 "when Vocaltec, Inc. introduced its Internet Phone software designed to run on a 486/33-MHz (or higher) personal computer (PC) equipped with a sound card, speakers, microphone, and modem, the software compresses the voice signal and translates it into IP packets for transmission over the Internet." This became know as PC-to-Phone call, and was an important development. In 1996, the technology gained interest of institutions. "The International Telecommunications Union (ITU) ratified the H.323 specification, which defines how voice, data, and video traffic will be transported over IP-based local area networks. The recommendation is based on the real-time protocol/real-time control protocol (RTP/RTCP) for managing audio and video signals." While H.323 possesses many of the requirements for transmission voice and data services, it was not designed with the ability to scale. So, the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) defined Session Initiated Protocol (SIP) with "feasible application examples include video conferencing, streaming multimedia distribution, instant messaging, presence information and online games." is of primary importance to manufacturs and vendors acitive in VoIP. Today, most industry participants are believing that this standard embodies the future of VoIP.
In the past, the IP network main use was for faster access to information for educational institutions. Following commercialization and introduction of Internet service providers in the 1980s, and the Internet's expansion for popular use in the 1990s, the Internet has had a drastic impact on culture and commerce. In its current form, Internet does more than that. Whether you are viewing media-rich content, working on-line banking, or you are behind a digital TV watching movie, sending e-mail, and reading text-message, the IP network is where it all begins. Because of the flexibility and cost-efficient for data transmission of the IP network, the number of people on the Internet is growing, Internet carriers such as AT&T and cable companies are rethinking developing IP networks to deliver visual and audible information with traditional service for what is called media convergence.
Today, the primary way consumer's access converged Internet services is through a broadband network. Consumers no longer care about the inner workings of networks or the devices that live with them; they care about what those devices can do for them. From the consumer's perspective, services include voice, distributed video, broadband data service, e-mail and fax. VoIP solutions are meeting the quality and enabling richer consumer offering. The most desirable benefit of VoIP is its capability to use the Internet since that is where the necessary bandwidth already exists.