Ever Wondered How VoIP Works?

Ever Wondered How VoIP Works? All That You Need To Know

Have you ever picked up your phone, made a call, and wondered, “How does this voice magically travel through the airwaves to reach the person on the other end?” If you’ve been curious about the technology behind Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), you’re in for a treat.   

In this blog post, we’ll explore how VoIP works, its technology, system infrastructure, and more.  

Since 2020, VoIP usage has grown by over 200 percent! 

How VoIP Works: The Basics 

VoIP, short for Voice over Internet Protocol, is a technology that allows you to make phone calls via the internet instead of conventional phone lines. And its business advantages are plentiful. It offers cost savings, scalability, flexibility, and a wide array of features like voicemail, call forwarding, and video conferencing. But that’s a blog for a different day

How VoIP Works: The Underlying Technology  

We’ll start by unpacking some of the more specialized terms surrounding VoIP. It begins with codecs. 

1. Codecs 

Codecs, short for “compression-decompression” or “coder-decoder,” are pieces of hardware and software that act as digital luggage packers. When you speak into a VoIP device, a codec condenses your voice data into a smaller format for smoother, faster delivery. If they didn’t, your call would take minutes – not milliseconds – to go through. 

Codecs also act as digital unpackers. When your data reaches another IP device, a codec unpacks or decodes the format, restoring your voice so the person on the other end can hear it. 

Some popular audio codecs include:  

  • G.711: Provides high-quality voice transmission but requires more bandwidth.  
  • G.729: Compresses voice data to conserve bandwidth but may sacrifice some quality.  
  • G.726: Allows users to choose between higher call quality or lower bandwidth consumption.  
  • Opus: Known for its excellent audio quality and low latency, it’s a versatile choice for many communication platforms.   

2. Packetization 

Once the codecs translate your voice, VoIP breaks your conversation into tiny data packets for transmission. These packets contain pieces of your voice data and “address information” so the data knows where to go. This information can include details like:   

  • Destination IP address (the unique identifier for the receiving device on the internet)  
  • Port numbers, and   
  • Other routing information  

The entire process of “packetization” ensures that your voice travels smoothly across the internet, reaching its destination intact and in real time.  

3. Protocols 

Now that your packets are assembled, they need somewhere to go. VoIP protocols, like SIP, are the roadmaps for your voice packets. They ensure your voice packets find the fastest and most reliable route to their destination, helping your conversation flow seamlessly. 

  • SIP (Session Initiation Protocol): Acts like a digital receptionist, helping start and end your calls.  
  • RTP (Real-time Transport Protocol): Handles the delivery of your voice and video, making sure it arrives on time.  
  • TCP/IP (Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol): Manages the smooth flow of your voice data over the internet, like a traffic cop directing your voice packets on the internet highway, preventing congestion.  
  • UDP (User Datagram Protocol): Speeds up the delivery of your data, even if it means it might miss a detail or two. Think of it like a courier who prioritizes speedy delivery but sometimes takes shortcuts when it comes to quality of service.  

How VoIP Works: Maintaining High Call Quality  

During this process, your system might encounter one or all of these challenges: latency, jitter, and packet loss.  

  • Latency refers to the delay between when you speak and when the other person hears you. It can be caused by a congested network or long distances between callers, making conversations feel unnatural or disjointed.  
  • Jitter is the variation in the delay of receiving packets of voice data. It’s like getting your letters out of order. Jitter can happen due to network issues or low bandwidth, causing choppy or uneven sound quality during calls.  
  • Packet loss occurs when packets of data don’t reach their destination at all, leading to gaps or dropouts in audio during calls. It happens due to network congestion, hardware failures, or unstable internet connections. 

Thankfully, the best VoIP providers, like NTouchTel, use smart technology to prevent these issues. They have robust internet systems, make voice calls a priority on your network, and fix any errors instantly to ensure your calls are clear and smooth.  

VoIP only sends data when someone is speaking, unlike traditional phones. This means you cut your data usage by 50 percent when you switch to VoIP. 

How VoIP Works: The System Infrastructure  

All great technology is housed in hardware –  VoIP is no exception. The building blocks of VoIP systems are a combination of hardware and software components.  

1. Hardware Components  

Even though much of VoIP is run online or in the cloud, you still need the proper hardware to make it work.  

  • IP Phones: IP phones connect directly to the internet via an ethernet cable, allowing you to make calls over the web. How? They contain all the right tools to handle VoIP calling right out of the box.   
  • Routers: Think of routers as the traffic directors of your VoIP system. They manage the data flow between your devices and the internet, ensuring that voice packets reach their destination efficiently.  
  • Switches: Like routers, switches direct data traffic but operate within your local network. They ensure that the correct data goes to the correct device, preventing bottlenecks and optimizing communication within your business premises.  
  • Gateways: These act as bridges between your VoIP system and the traditional telephone network. Gateways are essential if you still need to connect with clients or partners using conventional phone lines.  

If you want to use standard phones with a VoIP system, you can! You’ll need an ATA (analog telephone adaptor) to convert analog signals from your standard phone into digital ones.  

2. Software Components  

And now, it’s time to talk about the perfect complement to VoIP hardware: VoIP software.  

  • Softphones: Instead of physical devices, softphones are applications that turn your computer or mobile device into a virtual phone. They offer you the flexibility to make calls from anywhere if you’ve got an internet connection.  
  • VoIP Applications: These software programs manage and control voice data flow. They leverage the protocols mentioned above (primarily SIP) to start and maintain communication. VoIP applications work in tandem with hardware to create a seamless communication experience.  

Want to know how all these features work together to connect calls? Check out our blog on the subject!  

Partner with a Provider Who Knows It All So You Don’t Have To  

At NTouchTel, we understand how VoIP works inside out. With leading technology and an unwavering commitment to quality, the NTouchTel team guarantees that your business communication is always top-notch. Don’t settle for mediocrity – reach out today to get the most out of your VoIP phone system


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