Web conferencing is making big waves in the last few years. Through web conferencing meetings, consultations, collaborations, presentations, orientations and other business matters can now be done even if the participants are geographically dispersed.
Web conferencing offers different features that enable all of these possible. File, document, application, even desktop sharing are available. Instant messaging, polling, surveying, recording, and playback of meetings is also readily available. VoIP is also another feature almost present in all of web conference programs.
VoIP stands for Voice over Internet Protocol. This is the method of transmitting analog audio signals through the internet. Analog signals are converted in digital data so it can be transmitted through internet connection. VoIP can turn a standard internet connection into a way to place free phone calls.
VoIP enables the user to make phone calls from anywhere with broadband connectivity. There are also VoIP soft phone providers. A soft phone is client software that loads VoIP service onto the desktop or laptop. It would display an interface on the screen that looks like a traditional telephone. Microphone or headset is a requirement to place phone calls on the soft phone.
Adding VoIP into web conferencing is like merging data and audio in a more convenient system. But there are some doubters on the affectivity of VoIP in web conferencing.
There are advantages and disadvantages for using VoIP. VoIP dramatically cuts the costs allotted for voice minute charges. Adding audio and voice in web conferences enhances the effectiveness of the meetings. Requirements for VoIP set-up is also minimal, like personal computer, broadband connection and a communications headset or other audio input device.
Before VoIP web conferencing, companies and businesses pays a lot of money for international calls using landline connections. But with VoIP, companies can save hundreds of thousands of dollars each year. By using a phone adaptor (ATA), the VoIP technology can travel anywhere. The user just have to connect their phone adaptor to a broadband connection to use it.
Two persons are not the only people that can speak on the phone line. With VoIP, setting up a conference for the whole teams in real time is possible. More calls can be handled on one access line. VoIP also has several features like Caller ID, Contact Lists, Voicemail, etc.
Meanwhile there are people who cast doubts over the VoIP use in web conferences. The voice quality is one of the biggest question over the use of VoIP. The biggest issue is echo, especially if the participants are using speakers and microphone instead of headsets.
Another consideration is that VoIP is dependent on electricity or wall power. For normal telephones, if power goes down, the phone is still working. With VoIP, no power means no phone. Since VoIP also uses computer and internet, it is susceptible to worms, viruses and even hacking. To resolve this issue, VoIP developers and providers are already working on VoIP encryption.
For worst case scenarios, a computer crashing in the middle of the call will also mean no phone. VoIP phone system is entirely dependent on personal computers and the broadband connection.
VoIP and web conferencing are still very young and developing technology. There are sill room for improvement to further improve the efficiency of VoIP. Similar to other emerging technology, the start is always the jittery part. VoIP service providers are still facing a lot of challenges to better improve the services they are offering.