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History of VoIP
Have you ever wondered how VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) began? We tend to take everything for granted without giving a thought to how all of this cool technology came into our lives.
The concept of VoIP was introduced to the world around 1995. Although hobbyists had been playing around with the idea for decades earlier, the potential wasn’t realized until this time.
Early developers found that they could send data as voice packets over the internet. This meant that PC users could avoid expensive long distance charges. Even though high speed internet was not yet widely available, the software for internet calling was released.
In order for this to work, both parties had to have the same software installed on the computer they wished to use to make calls, as well as a microphone and sound card. Dial up connections made the quality of the calls very poor, but just knowing it was possible gave hope to developers that VoIP was a useful technology that showed a promising future.
Evolution of VoIP
VoIP gradually evolved over the next few years to the point where by 1998, a few companies were capable of providing PC to phone service. Soon after, phone to phone service was possible, although in most cases a computer was needed to make the connection.
As with many internet products of the late 1990s, early VoIP service depended on advertising to cover the costs rather than charge customers. As the availability of broadband widened, Ethernet service improved the clarity of calls and reduced latency. However, most calls were still distorted by static or had trouble making a connection with public telephone networks (PTN). In spite of these problems, customers were more than happy to sign up for free long distance calling.
A major breakthrough in the history of VoIP came about when hardware manufacturers such as Iwatsu developed VoIP equipment capable of “switching.” This meant that functions previously handled by the CPU in your computer, such as “switching” could now be completed by other devices. This development made VoIP calling less dependent on computers.
Technological advancements made the hardware more affordable. This led larger companies to implement VoIP systems on their internal IP networks, and opened the way for long distance providers to route many calls over the internet.
Cheaper hardware and faster internet connection speeds have dramatically increased VoIP usage. Many companies have switched to VoIP service to save on infrastructure as well as on long distance costs. But, the true value of VoIP service is its ability to extend your office and business beyond the borders of just one location to multiple locations, without any additional costs.
Over the years, technology has expanded VoIP capabilities to include features like faxing, video conferencing, music on hold, on the go calling and increased bandwidth capacities that allow multiple calls at the same time.
VoIP services have historically not been well connected with emergency services like 911, forcing many customers to keep their landlines. Phone numbers were also not entered into a searchable directory like phone books, 411 services or the yellow pages. Although these factors have seen many improvements over the past few years, they still aren’t quite up to par with the services offered by the big landline phone companies.
VoIP service has come a long way since its humble beginnings of only transmitting data between two computers. But, it still has a long way to go. As internet speeds continue to improve and more hotspots become available, VoIP could one day be the phone service of choice for every one. It may just replace cell phones.