Voice Over IP (VoIP)
VoIP is a technology that enables voice communications over the Internet through the compression of voice into data packets that can be efficiently transmitted over data networks and then converted back into voice at the other end. Data networks, such as the Internet or local area networks (LANs), have always utilized packet-switched technology to transmit information between two communicating terminals (for example, a PC downloading a page from a web server, or one computer sending an e-mail message to another computer). The most common protocol used for communicating on these packet-switched networks is Internet protocol, or IP.
VoIP allows for the transmission of voice along with other data over these same packet-switched networks and provides an alternative to traditional telephone networks, which use a fixed electrical path to carry voice signals through a series of switches to a destination.