What Does VoIP Mean?

by Luis Maza on Wednesday, March 19th, 2014.

VoIP is all over the place. It’s the hip new technology, so it’s being adopted in a lot of different ways, and nobody’s really doing a good job of explaining those options. Do I want hosted, or on-premises, or what? Can I just buy a magicjack? How does it even work? What does VoIP mean? It can feel like a frustrating nightmare to try and map the landscape.

Let me share an industry secret: the big money in the industry is in the enterprise—companies with hundreds or thousands of phones who want to know a lot of technical details about how a system could work with all their infrastructure—that’s why there’s so much gobble-goop around the net about VoIP. For a long time, if you were running anything short of about 100 employees it has felt like you have to elbow your way into the VoIP world. I say, no more! Let’s break it down.

Okay, what is VoIP?

We used to pick up a phone and talk into a receiver, which then sent the electrical sound waves of our voice over copper wires to the company building in town, which then sent it out on more copper wires to wherever it was going. I know, even that is confusing.

Then they digitized it. They took that electrical sound wave and “digitized” it by taking 8,000 samples of it per second and creating digital information out of it—turning your voice into ones and zeros. That digital information was then sent to wherever the call was going and was immediately recreated into sound in the handset phone that the listener was using. Nuts, right?

In comes VoIP. If we can digitize the voice signal, why not package up that information and send it faster over a better network? That’s VoIP: “Voice Over IP.” We send the voice signal over an internet or broadband connection. Same idea, just a better transmission.

But that’s really not even the half of it

If we’re making the voice signal a packet of information to be sent, that means technically that it functions somewhat like an email. That opens up all kinds of possibilities. Just like we used to have Cable TVs and now you can use the internet and the TV on the same screen in your living room, once we’ve packeted the voice signal, we can manipulate it in all sorts of ways – send it wherever we want it, label however we want it, secure it better, make it cheaper.

The cool part:

Well, you can do whatever you want with it. Want to get to your voicemail from anywhere instead of just on your desk phone? It’s just information over the internet—so that’s easy to do.

Want to visually be able to map out where your phone call goes within your company when someone calls your line? We can do better. We can tell it where to go, how long to wait at each step of the way, even ask it who it is before we pick it up. With Jive, you can plan out the call sequence in your company visually with our drag and drop Visual Dial Plan Editor.