What Does VoIP Mean?


VoIP is all over the place. It’s the hip new voice technology, so it’s being adopted in a lot of different ways, but nobody’s really doing a good job of explaining it. You may have questions:

  • Do I want hosted, or on-premises, or what?
  • Can I just buy a magicjack?
  • How does it even work?
  • What does VoIP stand for?

It can feel like a nightmare to try and map the landscape of competing options.

Let me share an industry secret: the big money in the industry is in the enterprise—those companies with hundreds or thousands of phones that want to know a lot of technical details about how a system could work with all their infrastructure. That’s why there’s so much gobbledygook around the Internet about VoIP. For a long time, if you were running anything short of about 100 employees, it felt like you had to elbow your way into the VoIP world. I say, no more! Let’s break it down.

Okay, so what is VoIP?

We used to pick up a phone and talk into a receiver, which then sent the electrical sound waves of our voice over copper wires to the company building in town. That, in turn, sent those sound waves out on more copper wires to wherever it was going.

I know, even that is confusing.

Then they digitized the process. They took that electrical sound wave and “digitized” it by taking 8,000 samples of it per second and creating digital information out of it—turning your voice into ones and zeros. That digital information was then sent to wherever the call was going and was immediately recreated into sound in the handset phone that the listener was using.

Nuts, right?

In comes VoIP. If we can digitize the voice signal, why not package up that information and send it faster over a better network? That’s VoIP: Voice Over IP, or Internet Protocol. We send the voice signal over an internet or broadband connection. Same idea, just a better transmission.

But that’s not even the half of it.

If we’re making the voice signal a packet of information to be sent, that means technically that it functions somewhat like an email. That opens up all kinds of possibilities. Just like we used to have cable TVs and now you can use the internet and the TV on the same screen in your living room, once we’ve converted your voice signal into a digital “packet,” we can manipulate it in all sorts of ways—including send it wherever we want, label it however we want, secure it better, and make it cheaper.

The cool part?

Well, you can do whatever you want with it. Want to get to your voicemail from anywhere instead of just on your desk phone? It’s just information over the internet—so that’s easy to do.

Want to visually be able to map out where your phone call goes within your company when someone calls your line? We can do better. We can tell it where to go, how long to wait at each step of the way, even ask it who it is before we pick it up. With Jive, you can plan out the call sequence in your company visually with our drag-and-drop visual Dial Plan Editor. And the Dial Plan Editor, along with all the other controls for your phone system, are available online, so you can make changes at your convenience.

And because it’s digital, there’s even an app for that. Our app, GoTo Connect Mobile, is a softphone, or software that transforms your digital device into a phone. Install it on your smartphone and you can make calls using your business number instead of your personal one.

Want to set up custom schedules that kick in automatically during off hours, weekends, and holidays? You can program it into a VoIP system.

Once you know the answer to “What does VoIP mean?” you’ll realize how VoIP gives you more voice features, more freedom, and more control of your system, but makes managing that system much easier and more affordable.

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