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Thursday, March 13, 2008

VoIP: The new way to talk, or just another tech-triviality

The world is shrinking! While scientists might continue to debate on the aforementioned statement, there is another world that is constantly expanding, a world that knows no boundaries and no limitations. That world is the World Wide Web.

Touted as the best accomplishment of the human mind since the era of Edison and Graham Bell, the internet has almost 20% of the entire world’s population connected to each other via a common source. Initially started in the USA as part of technological advancement procedures, the internet was accessible to the public in the early 1990’s. While networking sites and blogging seems to be the order of the day, it’s VoIP that is coming of age as a utility that is growing in popularity and usage. The biggest example of this is Skype, which has an estimated user base of 280 million, and was acquired by eBay in September 2005. While eBay itself is in talks over selling Skype to Google, the point is that eBay, despite being from a completely different industry, i.e., online retails and auctions, chose to invest a heavy amount to acquire Skype. Clearly, they had foreseen the rise of the VoIP industry, something we bear witness to now.

VoIP stands for Voice over Internet Protocol. This is a technology that converts one’s voice into digital packets and sends it across to the receiver, where it is converted from the digital form to the analog form. This process can be customized according to specific users’ requirements, as per their needs. The process sparked off at the beginning of the 21st century and presently, there are over 50 VoIP providers in the market. These include big names like Vonage, AT&T and Nortel, to say nothing of Skype, which still is the biggest shareholder in terms of user base.

This technology allows people to communicate in a more cost-efficient manner with PC-to-PC calling being free and PC-to-Phone calling being chargeable at lower rates than a landline or a mobile connection. While this concept was received with apprehension during the early stages of its innovation, more so regarding concerns over voice quality and stable connections, VoIP has now entrusted enough faith in its efficiency to be termed as the next step in telecommunications.

This technology is clearly all set to replace the existing telephony solutions and establish itself as the voice of the new world, and quite literally at that. What remains to be seen is if the future would bring in more and more users who would like to choose VoIP over their traditional mobile phones and landline, or will this newly-found innovation get lost in oblivion, much like many others that were promising enough to start with, but could not sustain their position.

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