System Structure, or What Components Make up VoIP?

System Structure, or What Components Make up VoIP?
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Going down the VoIP rabbit hole means that things can get complicated things quickly.
The VoIP network is actually modeled on the PSTN network, but several different pieces of hardware and software exist to make the packet-switching possible.
IP Devices
These constitute the actual handsets, or similar, used to make a phone call. Legacy phones can connect to a VoIP network with an adapter. Other calling options include an IP phones look like regular phones, but they connect to the network using an Ethernet jack rather than a telephone jack. Computers that have the right software and hardware accessories (microphone, speakers, soundcard, headset, etc.) can also be used to make VoIP phone calls.
Media Gateways
ìGateways provide seamless interoperability between circuit-switching and packet-switching network domains.î In other words, the media gateway connects the IP network to the PSTN and allows those two networks to talk to each other. Gateways also handle IP signaling functions and support Local Exchange and Toll switches on the PSTN. On top of all that, gateways can handle a wide variety of traffic types: data, voice, fax, multi-media, etc.
Softswitches
The function of the softswitch is to ìcontrol the voice or data traffic path by signaling between media gateways that transport the traffic.î Softswitches use established protocols and specifications to ensure ìthat a callís or connectionís underlying signaling information gets communicated between gateways.î This information includes things like caller ID, billing info, and other call triggers. Whereas a media gateway is an actual piece of hardware, a softswitch is software, and can be incorporated into a media gateway.
IP PBX
IP PBXs can do everything that traditional PBXs can do, and a whole lot more. An IP PBX allows companies to leverage its managed intranet for voice and data applications. These can run the gamut from conferencing, to unified messaging, to multimedia, to collaborative applications, and more. IP PBXs can be physical hardware or software, and, as a result, businesses can leverage hosted IP PBXs for their needs.

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