The lowdown on VOIP

What is it? VOIP is a method of transmitting telephone calls over data lines using Internet Protocol.

Advantages? It lets you support only one network standard. It also lowers the cost of voice communications.

Disadvantages? It doesn't assign a dedicated amount of bandwidth to a connection the way traditional telephone service does. This results in quality-of-service problems when networks are congested. It also puts all your communications eggs in one basket'a network failure takes your phones down with it.

Must-know info? Watch your protocols. Not all equipment operates on the same standards, and some standards are still under development. Over the next couple of years, VOIP applications to enhance teleconferencing should make it even more attractive.

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