Inside Today’s Communication Technologies

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Not until recently did I realize that technologies that use IP telephony (Internet Protocol telephony) and VoIP (Voice over IP) were different. The main difference is that IP telephony technologies use Internet Protocol packet-switched connections to exchange voice, fax and other forms of information, where as VoIP technologies send voice information in digital form in discrete packets. To simplify this description even further, VoIP sends only voice traffic over an IP network, while IP telephony refers to any telephone-type service carried over IP.


Furthermore, a major advantage of VoIP and IP telephony are that they avoid the tolls charged by ordinary telephone service because it uses Internet protocols rather than the tradition circuit-committed protocols of the public switched telephone network (PSTN).


Because both IP telephony and VoIP technologies have matured greatly over the last 10 years, it is no wonder that they may become vastly popular in the mass marketplace soon. Currently, IP telephony service and VoIP service is relatively unregulated by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). However, VoIP regulation has become a hot topic recently, and there are new regulations on the table—one in particular, the Barton bill. The Barton bill states that national franchisees would be permitted to operate cable services in areas where local, municipal and some statewide authorities have already granted limited monopolies or duopolies to cable TV (CATV) providers in designated regions.


Also, the U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on Telecommunications granted VoIP service providers access to critical Enhanced 911 (E911) infrastructure, which was a huge step for companies like Vonage. This bill grants access to selective routers, databases, numbering resources and other essential elements for the provision of E911 for nomadic VoIP services.


One thing is for sure, the landscape of communications will continue to evolve and regulatory issues will continue to arise: It should be an interesting landscape to watch during the next few years.

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