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Understanding VoIP

VoIP-Enabled Services

Many people have proclaimed that VoIP enables all kinds of new services that were never possible before. This is certainly true, though the hype far exceeds reality and what is practical. Even so, there are a number of new capabilities which are practical and will come forward as we continue to deploy VoIP systems.

Video telephony is probably the first new service that will come forward that helps set VoIP apart from traditional telephone systems. Service providers are already rolling out services offering video terminals to allow people to call friends and family using video-enabled phones.

The Internet allows one to potentially launch calls from the PC, determine the availability of friends and family members (called "presence"), control telephone services from the PC or tablet, etc. Some of these technologies exist in stand-alone form, while some are more tightly integrated—often using some proprietary integration mechanism.

The one business application that VoIP, video telephony (or, videoconferencing), and instant messaging will enable is application sharing and electronic whiteboarding. The ITU has defined a suite of protocols (called T.120) to address this application and it has been used in tools like Microsoft NetMeeting. While NetMeeting met some success, it failed to gain wider market adoption due to the fact that it was somewhat difficult to set up and use in a corporate environment. By having better integration with the phone and wider deployment of VoIP, businesses will probably find the ability to do application sharing and electronic whiteboarding very appealing in order to improve productivity. These kinds of services that are related to VoIP are most exciting.