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Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) is a proven technology that lets anyone place phone calls over an internet connection. With the rise of broadband, VoIP has become the definitive choice for phone service for consumers and businesses alike.

People enjoy using VoIP phone service over traditional phone lines. Why? It offers many more capabilities than analog phones. And it can do it all for less than half the cost.

Cloud phone service providers include powerful features not found with standard phone service. Auto attendants, call recording, custom caller ID, voicemail to email, and so much more. Plus, you can take calls and work from anywhere.

We've expanded this guide to take a closer look at what you need to know about Voice over Internet Protocol. We'll cover everything you need to know, including the benefits of VoIP phone service.

What is VoIP?

VoIP is an acronym for Voice over Internet Protocol that describes the method to place and receive phone calls over the internet. Most people consider VoIP the alternative to the local telephone company.

If you've heard of an IP address, that's your Internet Protocol address. An IP address is how computers and devices communicate with each other on the internet.

VoIP isn't actually all that new. Telephony has relied on digital lines to carry phone calls since the late 90s. VoIP is a cost-effective way to handle an unlimited number of calls.

So, what does this mean for you?



A data network is an electronic communications process that allows for the orderly transmission and reception of data, such as letters, spreadsheets, and other types of documents. What sets this type of network apart from other forms of communication, such as an audio network, is that it is configured to transmit data only. This is in contrast to the audio or voice network, which is often employed for both voice communications and the transmission of data, such as a facsimile transmission.

Military command and control systems, like those used on the bridges of naval vessels, are examples of private data networks.

There are two basic types of data networks in operation today. A private network is essentially a local network that is designed to allow for the transmission of data between the various departments within a given entity, such as a company. All locations of the company may be included as nodes on the network, and be able to communicate through a common server that functions as the repository for any and all data files that are used throughout the business. There are also examples of private networks that allow for data sharing between several companies that are part of the same profession or industry. Connections can be achieved through the creation of a virtual private network, or VPN, that resides on a master server, or by provisioning the connections through a communications carrier.



Optical networks provide the communication backbone of the internet. As the internet traffic has been growing exponentially, with more and more diversified services and applications, the capacity of optical networks has to expand accordingly. In the previous chapters, we have discussed properties of physical layer optical components and performance evaluation criteria of optical transmission systems. While an optical transmission system usually refers to a point-to-point optical link between a transmitter and a receiver, a communication network is much more general, including communication among a large number of users at many different locations, and with various different types of services and applications. In addition to ensuring the communication quality between users, optical network has to take into account the efficiency and flexibility of resources sharing when many users have access to the same network at the same time. Low probability of traffic jam and blocking, large available communication capacity to users, and high reliability are among desired properties of optical networking. In order for an optical network to be efficient and to provide various types of services to a large number of users, a set of rules and regulations has to be agreed upon by network developers, operators, and users. Depending on application requirements, various different optical network architectures have been developed and standardized. This chapter introduces basic optical network concepts which include layers of optical network, data encapsulation and connection mechanisms and standards, as well as optical network topologies, architectures, protection mechanisms, and survivability. We also discuss a number of special optical network architectures including passive optical networks (PONs), datacenter optical networks, and short distance optical interconnection. Data traffic switching and routing are highly dynamic in optical networks just like traffic in complex road networks with conjunctions, interchanges and bridges. Application of circuit switching and packet switching in optical networks, and their advantages and limitations are discussed. Optical circuit switching can handle wide spectral bandwidth, and transparent to modulation format of the optical signal, it has clear advantages in switching high-speed optical channels. However, optical switching is relatively slow and bandwidth granularity is usually coarse, and thus packet switching has to be used to further improve dynamic bandwidth sharing efficiency and flexibility among many users. At the end of this chapter, digital subcarrier cross-connect (DSXC) switching is introduced as an alternative to packet switching. DSXC is based on circuit switching but is able to provide fine enough data rate granularity and high spectral efficiency.