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Unified Communications

What is VoIP (Voice-over-IP)?

What is VoIP and What Can it Do for Your Business?

VoIP and IP telephony are becoming increasingly popular with large corporations and consumers alike. For many people, Internet Protocol (IP) is more than just a way to transport data, it's also a tool that simplifies and streamlines a wide range of business applications. Telephony is the most obvious example. VoIP—or voice over IP—is also the foundation for more advanced unified communications applications—including Web and video conferencing—that can transform the way you do business.

What is VoIP: Useful Terms

Understanding the terms is a first step toward learning the potential of this technology:

  • VoIP refers to a way to carry phone calls over an IP data network, whether on the Internet or your own internal network. A primary attraction of VoIP is its ability to help reduce expenses because telephone calls travel over the data network rather than the phone company's network.
  • IP telephony encompasses the full suite of VoIP enabled services including the interconnection of phones for communications; related services such as billing and dialing plans; and basic features such as conferencing, transfer, forward, and hold. These services might previously have been provided by a PBX.
  • IP communications includes business applications that enhance communications to enable features such as unified messaging, integrated contact centers, and rich-media conferencing with voice, data, and video.
  • Unified communications takes IP communications a step further by using such technologies as Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) and presence along with mobility solutions to unify and simply all forms of communications, independent of location, time, or device. (Learn more about unified communications.)

What is VoIP: Service Quality

Public Internet phone calling uses the Internet for connecting phone calls, especially for consumers. But most businesses are using IP telephony across their own managed private networks because it allows them to better handle security and service quality. Using their own networks, companies have more control in ensuring that voice quality is as good as, if not better than, the services they would have previously experienced with their traditional phone system.

Explore the Cisco Unified Communications System

Why VoIP? Learn how VoIP can help your small business meet its biggest challenges.