Understanding VoIP Protocols

It's safe to say most of us take the technology we use for granted. We just expect it to work, and most of the time it does. But when you're looking to set up a voice over internet protocol system (VoIP) for any organization, its helpful to at least understand some of the terms and the basics of protocols and how they work. Ultimately, it will make your decision on what VoIP to buy much easier. Here's a look at the ins and outs of VoIP protocols.

What is a Protocol?

A protocol is a set of rules used by computers to govern and to explain how they communicate with each other. That's not very different from politics and society in general, where we speak of a protocol as a set of rules around behaviour that guides interactions between two or more parties.

The most common online protocol is TCP/IP (actually, that's two protocols bundled together), which are at the heart of the internet, both of which do the background work that let us all connect to each other online. Firstly, the Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) breaks down the message that is created into small sections called packets, and then the Internet Protocol (IP) deals specifically with the sending and the receiving of those packets. Together, they're a formidable team.

When it Comes to VoIP

There are two common protocols that most organizations use for VoIP: Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) and H.323. They both have strengths and weaknesses, but are both called Intelligent Endpoint Protocols, "because all of the 'intelligence' necessary to locate the receiving device and establish the data transfer between your device (the localhost) and whomever you are calling (the remote device) is baked right into the protocol," according to GetVoIP.com.

What Defines SIP?

The key understanding for SIP is that it is modular, which gives it the flexibility to change, depending on business needs. The fact that it's organized in a modular fashion means SIP is essentially media agnostic, meaning it can transfer most forms of data easily and is compatible with mobile devices.

So for companies that are using unified communications systems, SIP is an excellent option. Not only will it transfer voice data, but it can also carry instant messaging, presence indicators, file transfers and video, too.

Meantime, the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), a large open international community of internet developers around the world, is the driving force behind SIP — and that's a large part of the reason why it's so flexible and effective.

What Defines H.323?

With a clear-headed focus on voice and video functionality, H.323 has become the global leader in delivering multimedia communications over LAN and WAN networks. Yet, it lacks the flexibility and wider functionality of SIP and is not as readily adaptable to a "mobile-first" world. Despite delivering world-class voice and video, it hasn't expanded much beyond that initial offering and seems to have lost some traction as communications evolved to the point where it is today.

Knowledge is Power

The technology behind VoIP isn't too complicated. It's not necessary to get bogged down in the details, but it does help to understand what you are getting and what you should expect from it.

For most users, there is a sense of delight in the way that good VoIP technology allows you to plug in with ease, consolidate all of your contacts under one system, and slash the costs of running an expensive on-premise IT system by taking to the cloud.

They don't care about how it happens, just that it does happen. But for managers and purchasers, there is a sense of comfort in understanding a little bit about how the system works and what it can do for your organization.

Choosing the right technology is crucial to a growing business. Take the uncertainty out of the equation by choosing a SIP technology provider that can scale to meet your business' needs, whatever they may be at any given time. Call 1-866-879-8647 or fill out an online form to request a no-obligation quote from an 8x8 product specialist.

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