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VoIP software is used to conduct telephone-like voice conversations across IP-based networks. Voice over IP (VoIP) systems use Internet Protocol (IP) signaling, a general term for a group of telephony technologies, to transmit voice traffic over the Internet or across a wide area network (WAN). VoIP software facilitates the use of packet-switched connections instead of the dedicated-circuit switched connections that characterize the public switched telephone network (PSTN). By sending voice information in digital form, VoIP enables an enterprise to manage a single IP network instead of separate voice and data networks. VoIP software also provides advanced, flexible capabilities to the end user.

Communication Methods

Communication methods include personal computer (PC) to fixed-network line, PC to PC, and telephone calls via internal, IP-based networks.

Types of VoIP Software

There are several different types of VoIP software. Choices include general softphone clients, IP phones, hosted services, products for mobile phones, frameworks and libraries, and server software. Softphones are software applications that use a general-purpose computer instead of dedicated hardware to make telephone calls over the Internet. IP phones range from simple softphones to complex hardwire devices. Computer telephony integration (CIP) is used to integrate telephones and computers. VoIP software is also used with hosted services that function as a private branch exchange (PBX). VoIP software for mobile phones, cellphones, and smartphones is also available.

Specifications

Specifications for VoIP software include operating system, licensing requirements, protocol types, and encryption methods. Common operating systems (OS) include Microsoft Windows (Microsoft Corporation), Mac OS (Apple Computer), and Linux (Linus Torvalds). Licensing varies by vendor. Protocols for VoIP software include inter-asterisk exchange (IAX), session initiation protocol (SIP), skinny call control protocol (SCCP), and extensible messaging and presence protocol (XMPP). Products with other types of proprietary and freeware protocols are also available.

Encryption Methods

Common encryption methods for VoIP software include transport layer security (TLS), secure sockets layer (SSL), and secure real-time transport protocol (SRTP).

Selecting VoIP Software

Selecting VoIP software requires an analysis of product features and capabilities. Some applications support file transfer, video chat, instant messaging (IM), screen sharing, co-browsing, voice mail and video mail. Other applications support multi-party conferencing, call forwarding, call transfers, multi-user audio/visual (A/V), and remote content storage. VoIP software that supports Skype, Google Talk, MSN, AIM, ICQ, or Yahoo Messenger is also available.