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#263Tech: What Is VoIP?

VOIP is an acronym for Voice Over Internet Protocol, or in more common terms phone service over the Internet. I have no doubt that almost everyone has encountered this term but for those who have never worked in the telecoms field, may probably fail to understand what VoIP is and its benefits in communication.



In Zimbabwe, leading Internet Service Providers like TelOne now offer VoIP as an enterprise business solution under their converged network. It comes as the most cheapest voice communication solution with free VoIP calls for TelOne to TelOne numbers while cross network calling will costs you around 8c per minute.

Some people use VoIP in addition to their traditional phone service, since VoIP service providers usually offer lower rates than traditional phone companies. While many VoIP service providers offer these services, consistent industry-wide means of offering these are still developing.


This is the next generation calling technology. Expect the death of Landlines by 2025.

How does VOIP work?
In Zimbabwe, all voice number have a 086 prefix easy to recognize that its an Internet based call if you receive any call starting with that number. You should all know that all our traditional land lines use analogical technology to link callers to their receivers. So way is required to turn analog phone signals into digital signals that can be sent over the Internet.
This function can either be included into the VoIP itself or in a separate box like a telephone adapter (ATA).

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VOIP Connection Using an ATA

Ordinary Phone —- ATA —- Ethernet —- Router —- Internet —- VOIP Service Provider

VOIP Connection Using an IP Phone


IP Phone —– Ethernet —– Router —- Internet —- VOIP Service Provider

Direct VoIP Connection
It is also possible to bypass a VoIP Service Provider and directly connect to another VoIP user. However, if the VoIP devices are behind NAT routers, there may be problems with this approach.

IP Phone —– Ethernet —– Router —- Internet —- Router —- Ethernet —- IP Phone

Applications using VOIP
Traditional telephony applications, such as outbound call center applications and inbound IVR applications, normally can be run on VoIP.

Here in Zimbabwe, our own Internet Service Providers such as ZOL, Powertel and Africom have been deploying VoIP services whenever they make a connection. Almost every home connected to ZOL now had a VoIP phone which definitely offers lower costs calls to other service provider with VoIP to VoIP calls being free of charge 247.

Why use VOIP?
There are two major reasons to use VoIP:
1.Lower Cost
2.Increased functionality

Lower Cost
In general phone service via VOIP costs less than equivalent service from traditional sources. This is largely a function of traditional phone services either being monopolies or government entities. There are also some cost savings due to using a single network to carry voice and data. This is especially true when users have existing under-utilized network capacity that they can use for VOIP without any additional costs.

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In the most extreme case, users see VOIP phone calls (even international) as FREE. While there is a cost for their Internet service, using VOIP over this service may not involve any extra charges, so the users view the calls as free. There are a number of services that have sprung up to facilitate this type of “free” VOIP call. Examples are: Free World Dialup and Skype for a more complete list see: VOIP Service Providers

Increased Functionality
VOIP makes easy some things that are difficult to impossible with traditional phone networks.
Incoming phone calls are automatically routed to your VOIP phone where ever you plug it into the network. Take your VOIP phone with you on a trip, and anywhere you connect it to the Internet, you can receive your incoming calls.

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Written by

Shingie Lev Muringi is a Technology Analyst & Digital Media Strategist by profession. He is a qualified Cisco Certified Network Engineer & a BTech. E-Commerce alumni with the Harare Institute of Technology. Shingie is a very passionate technology enthusiast who is driven by a burning desire to be a leading strategist in this digital revolution era where every organization needs to impress the paradigm shift with urgency. He has previously worked for TN Holdings, Steward Bank, Econet Wireless - Ecocash and TechnoMag before joining 263Chat as a Journalist

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