Unified Communications (UC) combines all forms of business communications into a single, unified system that provides powerful new ways to collaborate. Encompassing several communication systems or models, UC includes unified messaging, collaboration and interaction systems, real-time and near real-time communications, and transactional applications. The termination of Private Branch Exchanges (PBX) and Public Switch Telephony Networks (PSTN) circuits to be transported across an IP network and delivered to another phone system is traditionally referred to as Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP). This IP-based solution would be the driving force behind the obsolescence of traditional phone switching equipment at the customer site. This new technology would be known as IP Telephony.
VoIP is a method of taking analog audio signal, like the kind you hear when you talk on the phone, and turning them into digital data that can be transmitted over an Internet Protocol (IP) network, or the internet.
In the networking industry, IP Telephony (IPT) is a term that is used synonymously with the term VoIP. Cisco Systems uses the term IPT to define a portion of their entire suite of VoIP products called Unified Communications. Cisco’s IPT suite of products consists of media control protocols, hardware, and software.
The first step toward learning the potential of this technology is understanding the terminology. As a summary of the explanation above:
- VoIP refers to a way to carry phone calls over an IP data network, whether on the Internet or on an internal network. A primary attraction of VoIP is its ability to help reduce expenses because telephone calls travel over the data network rather than the phone company’s network.
- IP telephony encompasses the full suite of VoIP enabled services including the interconnection of phones for communications; related services such as billing and dialing plans; and basic features such as conferencing, transfer, forward, and hold. These services might previously have been provided by a PBX.
- IP communications includes business applications that enhance communications to enable features such as unified messaging, integrated contact centers, and rich-media conferencing with voice, data, and video.
- Unified communications takes IP communications a step further by using such technologies as Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) and Presence along with Mobility solutions to unify and simplify all forms of communications independent of location, time, or device.
Cisco IP telephony solutions are comprised of two categories: call-processing software and endpoints. Telephones and endpoint devices allow your organization to efficiently run voice, data, and video communications over a single, converged network.
Author: Paul Stryer