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The standard definition is that VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) is a technology allowing computing devices (PCs, smartphones, internet phones) to convert voice (and other noises such as music) into data packets and transmit them over an Internet connection in real time. The “real time” bit needs emphasis in my humble opinion, more than the “Internet” part. This is because VoIP transmission is done as it happens, not streamed from a recording. This imposes some quality restraints, as well as some limitations. In other words, one needs a good internet connection, as well as a correct configuration of networking devices, in order for VoIP to work.

In order to convert voice to data, one needs computing power (splicing voice into tiny zeros and ones that can be transmitted over the network) and – to me – it is simply astounding that we could do this as early as 1970’s, with early generation computers.

Add to this the fact that – once converted to ones and zeros – your voice can be transmitted over the network connection – only to be decoded at the other end and heard by someone else, and you’ve got yourself another technological marvel (and revolution).

The other interesting aspect of VoIP is that, given its nature (computer-based phenomenon) VoIP can enable us to do all sorts of things that previously weren’t possible or were hard to achieve. Things like automated processing of calls, voicemail to email, speech recognition and speech synthesis are enhancements of the telecommunication service that are computer-driven, hence easier to achieve and more elaborate once your voice is already digitised.

NOTEWORTHY: VoIP is a technology allowing voice and video communications over an internet connection, avoiding the old infrastructure where possible and with greater flexibility.