Voice over internet protocol

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VOIP-Voice Over Internet Protocol

Introduction

This essay will tell ultimately about the past, present and future of Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP). The purpose of this paper is to detail the information of VoIP and explore this technology by examining its history (technological, cultural, and economic), present (cultural, economic, regulatory condition) and also to provide a predictive vision for the future of VoIP technology. For the sake of brevity, this essay will focus on VoIP and its place in business world.

Technology Overview

VoIP

VoIP commonly known as IP Telephony is transmission of voice signals over the internet using the Internet Protocol (IP). In other way, VoIP converts the voice data of the telephone into digital signal that travels over the Internet. The main advantage of VoIP is that we can make long distance call in normal charge whereas; in PSTN we cannot do this. The large organizations use the solution of integrated voice/data to carry the voice applications over the data networks. This technological advancement will change the traditional telephony industry and also cut the rate of the traditional telephony [3]. The IP networks bandwidth is also an added advantage over the PSTN because it can carry 5 to 10 times the number of voice calls that the PSTN will carry on the same bandwidth [3].

Working of VoIP

If human voice has to be transferred over the data network, then it has to be packetized. The process of voice packetization is nothing but, to add headers with the voice data that has to be transferred over the network. When many voice samples are combined in to voice packet, they are sent through the network. In other words, we can break the voice data's into several small pieces and sent through network one after the other. The receiver at the other end decompresses the voice signal that is compressed by the packetization process at the senders end.

History of VoIP

Technological History

The existence of VoIP is because of the two necessary fundamental technologies they are telephone and Internet. The telephone was invented by Alexander Graham Bell and Elisha Gray in 1870s [1]. In early times the telephones were given in pairs to the subscribers. Almon B.Strowger in 1889 invented a switch that connects the 100 of other lines using relay and sliders and the switch was named after the inventor and it was called as "The Strowger switch". At first, before numbers were used in telephone there was button on the phone which the user must push them required number of times to dial the receiver's phone number. At the same time a paper was published by Dr. Claude Shannon name "A Mathematical theory of Communication", which laid the base for communicating through binary code, through which the digital communications revolution has happened and cell phones and internet are evolved.

The internet was first developed in 1968 by ARPANET (Advanced Research Projects Agency Network) founded by U.S. Department of Defence. As personal computer became familiar to everyone, some online service providing companies started to provide the proprietary information and email services. In the early stages the users will make connection in to the network through telephone lines and would pay an hourly fee to receive the offered services.

Creation of HTTP (Hyper text transfer protocol) and HTML text format code in 1989 by Tim Berners-Lee and group of researchers at CERN. They also invented URL (Universal Resource Locator) to identify the document location in the internet; this made the foundation for the formation of WWW.

Apart from internet and telephone is important for existence of VoIP, we have another closely related technology which is also so important. It is nothing but the Transmission control protocol/Internet Protocol (TCP/IP)- the protocol that tells about the form of net data packets and how they travel to their destinations.

Now as the ground elements of VoIP have been explained, we can see about VoIP. VoIP was first used in Israel by small company called Vocaltec, Inc. The user was allowed to call another user through their computers by using the company's product called "InternetPhone". The receiver and the caller should have the same software setup to make the application to work. At the start of the year 1988, some companies started to sell PC-to-phone and phone-to-phone VoIP solutions. The nationwide long distance calls was marketed for free of cost. Another development was made in hardware, i.e. some IP Switch manufactures introduced VoIP switching software as a standard in the routing equipment.

Cultural History

There are many reasons behind the development of VoIP. According to AfrilSPA website the development of VoIP was mainly because of the unavailability of the regular telephone service. And according to others they want to avoid per minute rate of the local networks.

When we talk about the business side of the topic, many companies have used VoIP to reduce the communication cost as well as the information infrastructure. Some of the companies used this power of VoIP and transferred the base to other nations. For e.g. Bank of America has shifted the base American call centre to India. Because of this many cultural impacts have been taken place, many Indians have gained job and the call centres in India train their employees to be "American". In the report of Amitabh Pal, a reporter of "The Progressive" magazine states that Indians are actively westernizing themselves by adopting western name and identities, culture and accents. It's how the technology used has impact on the culture.

Economic History

According to Daniel Berniger till February 1995, the budget at Bell Laboratories did not include a single project related to Voice communications through data networks, but by 2004 it totally changed and now the each project the Bell takes is related to Voice over Internet Protocol. The history of VoIP has direct ties with economy.

"The roots of the VoIP insurrection trace back to four synchronistic events in 1968. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) ruled MCI could compete with AT&T using microwave transport on the Chicago to St. Louis route. The same year, the FCC's Carterfone decision forced AT&T to allow customers to attach non-Western Electric equipment, such as new telephones, and modems, to the telephone network. The Department of Defence's Advanced Research Project Agency issued a contract to Bolt Beranek and Newman for a precursor to the Internet. And in July1968, Andrew Grove and Gordon Moore founded Intel. Innovation in the communication sector remained the proprietary right of AT&T for most the 20th century, but events in 1968 breached the barriers that kept the telecom and information technology industries apart."

These are the events which made the changes in the communication world. These developments in communication world helped the companies to reduce the infrastructure. The main objective of the Internet telephone service providers is that to provide voice calls with good quality, because they could charge nominal fee.

As knowledge of VoIP reached the people, there was an hype of VoIP and many small companies spurned up providing calling cards, which allows users to make international calls at lower rate; it was mainly because of lack of government regulation and the possibility of transferring voice over data network.

As we examined the technological, cultural and economic history of VoIP, we found that VoIP has telephone and internet has its foundation block for its growth. The growth of the VoIP has made international call as a commodity item which could be bought in cheaper rate.

Current status of VoIP

The transformation of regulatory telephone to new form of media was because when individual users started using VoIP. The new form of media made possible to transfer voice and digital media over the data network. It's because of business development and adoption the VoIP technology has seen the major advancements. The current global culture can be seen through the culture surrounding this technology.

The current cultural status:

The current cultural impact of the technology was created by the people who use this technology in businesses and not by the technology.

The ability to make long-distance calls at cheaper rate made the companies to allow to set-up call centers outside the national borders. These are the some changes that are related to internet telephony that has an effect on culture of globe. The technology provided the way to business leaders to make the changes.

Before companies made their call centers outside the nation, they were limited to time constraints of normal working hour. After companies deciding to provide customer support after normal working hours, some companies installed them in various time zones, which proved to be costly for them. After VoIP was standardized in 2001, various companies started to move their call centers to various countries.

When we consider the case of U.S., most companies in there has the call center in other locations such as India. Where the labour cost is less not only that its also because of the education level of call center staff is far more superior than the education level of staff who works in U.S.

The culture surrounding this technology will change only when government takes some economic and regulatory actions over it.

The current economic status of VoIP:

The industry and state has been affected by VoIP. By seeing these four distinct groups, we can know the current status of VoIP. The first group is that business peoples those who try to save money by using VoIP. The second group is that U.S. federal government and the states that have regulated the telecommunication. The third group is legacy companies those who are trying to stabilize their markets by preventing the large amount of customers from transferring to ITSPs. The fourth group is that who take taxes from government and taking away business from legacy companies.

The constraints in using VoIP in individual states in U.S. are to be taken by the government because the communication itself does not travel in single fixed line.

The telecommunications companies such as AT&T and other companies are losing out millions of money each month. For example, local phone service controller in Northeast since the 20th centuries, Verizon has lost many of its telephone line count in that area.

The position of legacy phone companies is compared to the threat faced by the rail roads when the nation was turning its face towards the automobile and airplane for long distance travels.

An American company call Bell has lost about 28 million phone lines since the end of the year 2000.National Associations of Regulatory Utility Commissioners, general counsel says that the area of the legacy providers will come down as customers will switch to internet-based plans.

By seeing this, one of the major legacy companies AT&T, has already started witching plans to interstate by partially transferring some phone traffic over internet.

In the context of economic status, the last group that we will discuss about is the businesses that have used VoIP, companies which have used VoIP has reduced their telecommunications costs. For e.g. company called Queens Long Island Medical Group, have made an change over to VoIP and saving around 400,000$ per month. Most of the companies think the improvement to their network and Internet connections as main advantage as compared to the cost save.

"What I find so interesting is the greatest benefits discovered are generally from areas that had not planned for or initially expected. In most instances, the productivity improvements gained were from the new features or applications that the VoIP equipment supported and less from displacing traditional voice telephony applications or equipment. They all said that they had to improve their local area network (LAN), and sometimes wide area network (WAN), infrastructure to reliably provide voice transport."

This fact in the quotes is said by Roberta Fox, and it says about the benefits that are obtained by companies when using VoIP. But the fact is that, the large companies will look out for the cost saving part and the companies that are growing will think about the fact of hiring employees, which would equal the cost that is reduced in telecommunication part.

Regulations those are present in current situations:

It is critical to provide regulatory measures to govern a technology that is being used by many of the peoples around the globe. Providing a supportive framework is the request made by many people which would help in healthy competition regardless of those who provide the network media i.e. cable, telecommunication etc. As VoIP is an innovative technology we should not allow some clumsy frame work to hinder it, we have to create a regulatory measures to use it in a best way.

The main concept behind the information that passes through PSTN is different from the Packetized Information. In the concept of voice packetization we append headers to voice data along with the routing information. To say this process in simpler words, the single voice signal will be broken in to packets (small data's) and sent through the networks. The packetization process is nothing but voice data of the callers will be compressed and it will be transferred through IP network, and the receiver's end same data will be decompressed. The FCC is the current regulating body of VoIP.

The reason why FCC has ignored VoIP is because numbers of users were less. As years went the users of VoIP got increased and the board of FCC has decided to create a regulatory body for VoIP.

Comparing PSTN and VoIP is not realistic because here the messages are sent in packets and it would be impossible to monitor, and pay for the messages that travel through different tax structures.

The governmental regulation of VoIP is understood but when the rules are implied it might change the way that people use the internet. As by this regulation, we have some advantages and disadvantages.

The Future of VoIP

The new technologies future is very strongly founded by the current economic and regulatory events. In near future, we can expect some changes in internet protocol and public internet because of VoIP and we can see some changes in wireless technologies also.

Expected changes in Internet:

The Internet is combination of 130,000 plus networks which are interlinked with each other to transfer the data's through digital media. The power of the internet will get stronger and the rate in which the data's are transferred will also increase and the connection's reliability will also improve.

The International Engineering Consortium (IEC) predicts that reliable voice and video services will be handled by public internet in next three or five years if these two critical changes take place:

  1. "An increase by several orders of magnitude in backbone bandwidth and access speeds, stemming from the deployment of IP/ATM/synchronous optical network (SONET) and ISDN, cable modems, and x digital subscriber line (xDSL) technologies, respectively "
  2. "The tiering of the public Internet, in which users will be required to pay for the specific service levels they require"

By the seeing the amount of data transferred through internet we can predict that the internet will grow further. If VoIP becomes more prevalent, the data network that is used by internet must also grow accordingly to accommodate new users. To some extent the second change mentioned earlier has been already in use. The user wishing to connect to internet can choose any one of the type which will give the necessary speed for the internet connection. The tiering of the public Internet will allow ITSP to fix pricing structure for each type and allow the user to pay for which type they use.

The IEC also predicts that communication technologies will use an IP backbone for transferring the digital content's. The foundation for the technology integration and convergence has already begun in many communications. The user and vendor will benefit by the use of open-source technology.

The way by which users will connect to internet will also change other than the speed. In today's world the wireless, fiber optics is already in use. Ethernet over power line is new technology which provides fast connection when compared to other technologies. Ethernet over power line is a simpler method for connecting the internet; we can just plug the device into an electrical outlet and use. The electrical system will transfer the data's. We can assure that some of next generation protocols which transfer communications will use Ethernet over power line to connect to internet.

Digital media Integration and wireless

The major leap in the context of telephony is that the convergence of internet with the traditional telephone system. VoIP is example of such convergence and it is the start of large transitions to IP based communications, which will change the way of means by which the people communicate one another.

As VoIP will be used in many communication technologies, the time-distance problem will also be solved. Bell Labs Technical journal which was published in 1998 October has an article which explains a service example of VoIP and IP based communications, the author of the article was Paul Sijben and Lousie Spergel. The example "personal environment" is a communication tool that allows the user to know about the geographic area and will allow the user to communicate with others. The tool will have the following types of media such as voice, fax, mail etc. These media types will converge in to one directed profile called personal digital identity.

The personal digital identity which is being currently developed by the Enum Intiative will change the telephone numbers into net addresses allowing people to contact anyone provided they know atleast one email address or telephone number of the contact person. The reach of the internet will broaden when the Enum Intiative and the NATPR works in combination and any ID space can be mapped with any domain.

In the near future the process of integration will also be started by VoIP. In the video game industry the ability to chat with one own voice has been started. Earlier the communications was through simple text messages, but now the ability to talk with the other team player has been developed which gives the players a real time feeling of the game.

The integration of VoIP will continue to help the other markets to grow especially in wireless and mobile phones. The growth of wireless network in last few years is phenomenal. Wireless networks is been used in all places like homes, companies, universities, libraries and also in some cafe shops.

As VoIP uses only data networks to transfer the data it is easy for it to use the current Wi-Fi Network. Cellular phones that uses Wi-Fi internet connection is already in use. As depending upon the location of the user the cellular phones will switch to the current service provider and the Wi-Fi network.

Wi-Max, a development of current Wi-Fi is expected in near future, which has a capability of having its range over 30miles. This technology will surely change the cellular market in the world.

As these tools and Wi-Fi are in a place, then VoIP will be integrated in to cellular phones and devices like PDA, which is already in use. These developments will help wide range of Professional, for e.g. Doctors, can use the new emerging way of communications called Video conferencing, the next big step in development of VoIP; which will allow them to communicate with other doctors, to obtain patient information, or share some reports in order to diagnose the issue properly.

Previously, the experts were thing about the convergence of data cables and voice cables together i.e. the convergence of data network and telecommunications network. But now, the thinking has been changed and now the experts are thinking about the applications that could be converged that would help both the networks. The fact is that we can expect lot more in front of us than what we have at this point; the current economic climate around VoIP will make it happen.

As research in the area of VoIP develop the technology and as more and more cities adopt wireless networks throughout the city, for which the users can pay monthly to use it; we can almost think of what the user will get a wireless VoIP phone which would allow them to stream a video through wireless networks.

Due to this advancement in the technology user will made to change their normal cellular phones to VoIP phones. Users who use this kind of phone will pay a monthly fee for the access of the network to the network provider which will include the regular internet access through PC but the user will also be able to get the access to the network throughout the city through their VoIP phones.

After VoIP Portable phones are in use, we can expect changes in customers in the way they use the cell phones i.e. for having contact with their family, friends and their colleagues. The VoIP phones will effectively allow the customers to have the normal home phone services along with the mobile phone services in addition it will also allow them to connect to long distance calls throughout the day with same amount of cost that they would spend for the wireless network providers.

The future of VoIP is bright and the growth in the next 10-15 years in this technology will be quite interesting. We can believe that the standard technology for the communication through telephone will be VoIP in next few years. Apart from the growth we can also see this technology split the telecommunication industry in the world. The VoIP will not only change the market, but it will also change the way how we communicate with one another.

The Pros and Cons of VoIP Advantages of VoIP:

Pros of VoIP:

The biggest advantage of VoIP is that it saves cost for many Companies. The amount of money that is being saved is really depends upon then VoIP system in which we invest in i.e. for example one VoIP system will allow user to connect with the user who has VoIP on the other end and the other will allow the user to connect to anyone who has an mobile phone. Apart from the monthly service charge and the fee for downloading the software PC to PC VoIP calls are free. But the PC to phone VoIP calls costs not more than half the cost of phone to phone calls. In United States of America some network providers charge a monthly fee and provide unlimited calls within the state.

As the rates, the services provided for VoIP will also depend upon the network provider, some of the network provider will allow the options of call waiting, call diverting, call forwarding, and conference calls with their VoIP service.

The next advantage is portability. The VoIP will have a unique address stored in to the individual phones which will allow the users to connect to the internet where ever they have the connection. There are some limitations to use it, but the thing is that we can take it anywhere on our trip.

Availability is the next advantage of VoIP. The VoIP phones has the facility of web interface in it, which will allow the users to login in from where ever he is provided the internet connection is available. It will be helpful for the companies to reduce their telecommunication costs with their employees who are at foreign nations. VoIP works in the foreign countries where as the cell phones will not work there.

Locality is the next advantage of VoIP. Many service providers of VoIP offers local calls without considering the place where you are in. For example, if user is in India then it will be consider call to Indian phones as local call and if you use the same phone in U.S. and call U.S. mobile or landline it will consider it as a local call. As vice versa if anyone from India calls to your number, then they won't be charged for the log-distance calls despite the fact you are in U.S. It is yet another cost saving feature.

The other advantage of VoIP is that the expand use. It is nothing but VoIP can be used with Instant messengers like MSN, Google talk, Skype with their voice calling features. The services like video conferencing, audio conferencing, sharing of files can also be provided using VoIP.

Cons of VoIP

Internet facility required- VoIP will go down as soon as your Internet facility has gone down. Internet facility is essential for VoIP we cannot have any alternative for that. Because of this, the users of VoIP is relaying on the secondary options like mobile phone and land lines. If though the internet connection is present it should be more faster connection in order to get a good VoIP communication. That's why it is said that quality and reliability of internet connection is important for VoIP communication otherwise it will lead to call dropping or the users will hear some echo, which will affect the VoIP communication.

Faxing Facility- The faxing facility which is available in normal land line telephones is not available in the VoIP phones. But we can use the services of E-fax can be an alternative.

Electricity- Regardless the presence of electricity the normal telephone line will be available but in the context of VoIP it will not be available if electricity goes down. It is because if electricity goes down the internet connection will be lost, as we know VoIP needs internet connection it will not able to work without electricity.

Emergency calling facility- Since VoIP cannot help in finding where the user is, it will be difficult to route the call to emergency services, and this problem is mainly because of the mobility of VoIP. However, some providers of VoIP have created their own emergency services to help their customers.

Security- An encryption solution to the VoIP packages is not yet provided by the VoIP providers, due to which the communication will be unsecured over the internet.

Caller's Identity- In most of the VoIP packages caller Id has not been included because of this, the receivers will not able to see the caller's phone numbers and able to identify them. If some receivers has screened the unknown numbers then they it will not be possible for them to pick up the calls.

Conclusion:

The purpose of an essay is to provide a detailed history by examining the technological history, economic history, and its economic history and to explain the current situation of VoIP by analyzing the regulation and legal issues surrounding the technology. In this essay, the future of VoIP is also predicted.

The existence of VoIP is because of 40+ years of work in the telecommunication and computing industry. It was also the openness and freedom for the internet which has made the possibilities for the growth of VoIP. The way by which the people communicate with each other will change when VoIP is being standardized. The current situation surrounding the VoIP will make it grow better and we can assure that it will not decline from this point.

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