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Telephone and Voice Over IP (VOIP) Overview

The Marriage of Telephone and Computer

Computers are here to stay. Now we are at the point where an off-the shelf PC has the power to handle a small office phone system without breaking a sweat. Whether you realize it or not your next phone system will likely have a computer running under the hood.

Voice over IP (VOIP)

Is Voice Over IP, or "VOIP" the next big thing in Telecommunications? Many people think so. It can be just as dangerous to be the slow adopting dinosaur as it is to blindly follow the pack on the "next big thing". Don't just buy into the hype. Like most new technology VOIP has advantages and disadvantages. It's always wise to learn as much as you can.

Traditional, VOIP, or Both?

VOIP does not have to be an "all-or-nothing" decision! Some phone systems, like Asterisk, let you use both traditional and VOIP technology together seamlessly. A hybrid solution can give you the best features, flexibility, and expandability of both worlds.

Open Standards: Lower Costs

Be careful. While VOIP technology has open standards there is no guarantee that your vendor is actually going to sell you something open. If you aren't careful you might still be locked into an expensive one-vendor solution.

The benefit of an open system (a REAL open system) is that you can easily expand and upgrade components and features. While you can do this more cost effectively, the true benefit is that you have an unequaled ability to customize the system to your needs. For more technical information on VOIP standards and protocols click here.

Further Reading

We have put together some information that may help you make an informed decision about Telephone systems in general, VOIP, and Computer telephone integration.

Vonage - First Looks
In this article I discuss my first looks and impression of the Vonage service.

Vonage - Introduction
In this article we introduce you to the Vonage Service and how to get up and running with Vonage quickly.

Asterisk - J.E.B. Solutions Case Study - Why we chose the Asterisk Phone System
In this article we look at the needs of J.E.B. Solutions. Learn how Asterisk gives a small office heavy weight features on a feather weight budget.

Asterisk - J.E.B. Solutions Asterisk Server Details
Take a peak at our Asterisk layout. Learn how we turn an average PC into a power house phone system.

Asterisk - Feature Overview
In this article we briefly cover the highlights of Asterisk. Yes, all these features come FREE with the Asterisk software.

Voice Over IP (VOIP) and 911 Emergency Services
In this article we briefly discuss how 911 service works. Know the limitations of 911 and VOIP.

Voice Over IP (VOIP) Protocols
A brief rundown of VOIP protocols. Feature comparisons. The dangers of proprietary standards. Caveat emptor!

Digium Zaptel Hardware
A description of Digium's asterisk cards (TDM400P series). Covers our ongoing experience with the Digium TDM22B cards. For techies there's a patched genzaptelconf configuration script.

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