Internet telephony, also known as voice-over Internet protocol, is a technology that turns phone calls into digital packets to be transmitted over the Internet. This method does not depend on expensive switchboards but uses routers through which voice data is mixed with other batches of data and sent over networks, reducing the cost of phone calls dramatically. A service launched in Japan in April 2001 charging a uniform 20 yen per three minutes for domestic long-distance calls is a variation of Internet telephony. The operator of this service uses dedicated lines in routing phone calls to ensure voice quality. Companies actively using the system include major British telecom carrier Cable & Wireless Plc and AT&T Corp. of the U.S. About 40% of all international calls will be made through Net-based telephony in 2004, according to the International Telecommunication Union. *Refer to Cellular Phone Internet Services.
A use of the Internet to complete voice communications. Internet telephony allows users to establish voice communications from their Internet connection to a telephone or another computer user. Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) is one example of Internet telephony. Microsoft's Telephone Application Protocol Interface (TAPI) is another.
Internet telephony is the conversion of analog speech signals used on current telephone systems into digital data, allowing calls to be sent over the Internet, bypassing long distance charges. While the Internet was first devised as a way of transmitting data, it is now being used to make voice calls. Internet telephony is projected to explode as the costs plummet.