Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) is a general term for a family of transmission technologies for delivery of voice communications over IP networks such as the Internet or other packet-switched networks. Other terms frequently encountered and synonymous with VoIP are IP telephony, Internet telephony, voice over broadband (VoBB), broadband telephony, and broadband phone.
Internet telephony refers to communications services â€” voice, facsimile, and/or voice-messaging applications â€” that are transported via the Internet, rather than the public switched telephone network (PSTN). The basic steps involved in originating an Internet telephone call are conversion of the analog voice signal to digital format and compression/translation of the signal into Internet protocol (IP) packets for transmission over the Internet; the process is reversed at the receiving end.
VoIP systems employ session control protocols to control the set-up and tear-down of calls as well as audio codecs which encode speech allowing transmission over an IP network as digital audio via an audio stream. Codec use is varied between different implementations of VoIP (and often a range of codecs are used); some implementations rely on narrowband and compressed speech, while others support high fidelity stereo codecs.
Voice over IP has been implemented in various ways using both proprietary and open protocols and standards. Examples of technologies used to implement Voice over Internet Protocol include:
* IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS)
* Session Initiation Protocol (SIP)
* Real-time Transport Protocol (RTP)
A notable proprietary implementation is the Skype network. Other examples of specific implementations and a comparison between them are available in Comparison of VoIP software.