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What is all this SIP stuff anyway?

SIP stands for Session Initiation Protocol. If that doesn't mean anything to you, you are not alone. It's another one of those acronyms that gets tossed around on the Internet with little actual understanding. SIP is one way of delivering services like Voice Over Internet Protocol, or VoIP; however, it's about more than just voice, it's about communication. SIP can be used for sending messages back and forth, sending video, real-time chatting, games, and much more. One of the things IdeaSIP allows is for you and anyone else on this SIP-compatible service to communicate as though you were using a telephone but over the Internet instead. In fact, a telephone itself is really nothing more complex than a way of sending electrical signals over long distances. It uses long bits of wire an complex masses of automatic switches that handle which electrical signal goes where -- all to allow you to talk to Aunt Martha or Cousin Jeremiah many states (or countries) away. In order to keep all this equipment running, the phone company charges you fees. When you make long-distance calls, they charge you even more fees.

VoIP doesn't use long bits of copper telephone wire and complex electrical switches. It uses your existing Internet connection instead. Much the same way you'd watch a streaming video or view a web page on the Internet, you can also send voice signals, converted into digital audio, and transferred anywhere the Internet will go. The advantage of this method of communication is that you already pay a lump sum for your Internet usage. It's yours to use as you please, be it downloading songs to fill your music collection, watching streaming news broadcasts, listening to Internet-capable radio stations, or, in this case, talking to Aunt Martha. You don't get charged extra money for SIP to SIP calls because it all stays on the Internet. Once it leaves the Internet and connects to regular telephones or cell phones (called PSTN phones), you are placed into the domain of the phone companies and get charged accordingly. The equipment for converting VoIP calls to regular phones (called PSTN phones) can be expensive to buy, run, and maintain, and that comes at a price. It's usually a very small price compared to traditional long-distance charges, but a price nonetheless. We don't currently offer calls to PSTN telephones, but we will very soon, and you'll see when we post our per-minute charges that the savings are extraordinary.

SIP itself is an open standard. This means that the way it works was checked and rechecked by hundreds of people, and agreed upon as a way to communicate. Because everyone can find out all the intricate details of how it works, anyone who wants to can develop ways of using SIP to send information. Anyone can develop SIP-based voice or video hardware or software phones, and there is already a huge selection of devices available which use the SIP protocol to communicate. An open standard means choices for the consumer, and choice is always a good thing.


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Copyright 2006 Infinideas, inc.