Internet Protocol (IP) telephony can yield big cost savings to both corporations and consumers. It is more efficient than the plain old telephone service (POTS) and is poised to undergo huge growth. Before that growth can occur, however, designers who want to use the technology have to vault hurdles concerning latency, quality, and security. Quality of service (QoS) is the primary problem impeding this growth. A traditional problem with this technology, QoS must improve enough to enable Internet-based services to compete with traditional telephony providers.
IP telephony promises free, feature-rich telephone services, but quality, reliability and security issues keep some industry experts doubting. To successfully implement the technology, designers must consider chips, software, code longevity, and vendor support.
The term "IP telephony" covers a range of technologies, including voice-over-IP (VoIP) and fax-over-IP services, which are carried over both the Internet and private IP-based networks. IP telephony is part of packet voice, which includes voice-over-asynchronous-transmission-mode (ATM) and frame-relay networks, which run faster than IP but are less common. IP telephony connects across combinations of PCs, Web-based telephones, and phones connected via public telephone lines to remote voice gateways. Because information travels in discrete packets, it doesn't need to rely on a continuously available switched circuit. Consequently, it's very bandwidth- and cost-efficient.
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