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What is VoIP?
excerpted from VoIP for Dummies, Avaya Limited Edition
VoIP (pronounced voyp) is the name of a new communications technology that changes the meaning of the phrase telephone call.VoIP stands for Voice over Internet Protocol, and it means “voice transmitted over a computer network.” 


IP Telephony enables voice communication over Internet Protocol (IP) networks. It unites an organization’s many locations—including mobile workers—into a single converged network. It promises cost savings by combining voice and data on one network that can be centrally maintained. But more importantly, it brings advanced features and applications that enhance productivity throughout the organization.  


A large percentage of calling patterns within corporations indicates that many calls will never leave the LAN. An IP Telephony call to a coworker at the same location would never leave the LAN. Similarly, a call to another department in your building would never leave the LAN. In these examples, the packets remain simply packets that travel over the LAN to the called person. These packets do not need to include other vital data inside them to direct the packet over longer distances to other locations. As a result, IP Telephony calls result in shorter-sized packets when compared to VoIP calling packets that would need to go off the LAN.  


IP Telephony works a lot like the computer works on the LAN. But all users do not necessarily need an IP-enabled telephone. Avaya implements IP Telephony in a manner that can protect your investment in preexisting telephone equipment (for example, enabling IP to digital and even IP to analog telephone stations). 
You can acquire IP telephones in several different styles. But they all have one important thing in common: The IP telephone has a network interface card (NIC) built into it just like a computer must have a NIC inside of it to connect to the LAN. The NIC is the single most important component for any LAN device because it provides the device with its physical address on the LAN.  


VoIP is a win-win for everyone. With VoIP, customer satisfaction and productivity increases for your entire company. A few VoIP features, such as voicemail and call transfer, have been around in the POTS world for quite some time. On the other hand, integrating data, voice, and video applications to run over a single network and work with wireless phones are more recent innovations made possible by IP Telephony. As a result, many new features under IP Telephony have become available. 
As with any new technology tool, VoIP with all of its many end-user benefits is quickly replacing traditional POTS alternative technologies. Indeed, VoIP is even becoming a superior replacement for many former computer-only applications.