How Does VoIP Actually Work?

voip diagramA previous post on this blog, “Voice over Internet Protocol for Business Savings,” explains the “why” regarding VoIP’s benefits for business owners. Now, let’s take a better look at how it works.

As mentioned above, VoIP stands for voice over Internet protocol. We have probably all heard of [blank] for dummies – a book and digital source offering the simplest explanation of a thing or process. To break down the meaning of “voice over internet protocol,” Timothy V. Kelly offers his explanation in VoIP for Dummies:

“VoIP basically means voice transmitted over a digital network. The Internet, however, isn’t strictly necessary for VoIP. What is necessary for VoIP technology is the use of the same protocols that the Internet uses. (A protocol is a set of rules used to allow orderly communication.) Thus, voice over Internet protocol means voice that travels by way of the same protocols used on the Internet… The Internet protocols are the basis of IP networking, which supports corporate, private, public, cable, and even wireless networks2

So now we’re back to our original question – how does it work? Here is a brief explanation courtesy of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC):

“VoIP services convert your voice into a digital signal that travels over the Internet. If you are calling a regular phone number, the signal is converted to a regular telephone signal before it reaches the destination. VoIP can allow you to make a call directly from a computer, a special VoIP phone, or a traditional phone connected to a special adapter. In addition, wireless “hot spots” in locations such as airports, parks, and cafes allow you to connect to the Internet and may enable you to use VoIP service wirelessly.1

In other words, someone who works for a company can have a phone extension from a main office in Atlanta, Ga., which rings at their home office in Seattle Washington.

So why should you even care about VoIP? VoIP is a relatively new type of technology that is breaking the limitations of traditional phone service and expanding our capabilities. As mentioned above, for business owners, VoIP cuts down overhead costs and expensive travel budgets for staff. “VoIP unites an organization’s many locations — including mobile workers — into a single converged communications network and provides an unparalleled range of telephony support services and features. 2” Even if you don’t own a business, VoIP allows you to have more options when choosing a company to provide phone service.

1 (2014) Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP). Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Retrieved Sept. 26, 2014 from

2 Kelly, T. (2014) Understanding What VoIP Means. For Dummies. Retrieved Oct. 27, 2014 from