VOIP, or Voice Over Internet Protocol, replaced the old copper wiring and switches that created a circuit between the caller and the person being called. This technology was mature and fairly reliable, but inefficient. Thousands and thousands of copper wires had to be run from house to house, neighborhood to neighborhood, city to city, county to county – and continent to continent! There had to be a pair of copper wires for every call that needed to go from one place to another.
The modern solution to this problem uses data networks that allow information – like your audio conversation – to be broken up into packets and shipped over a shared network link. This is much more efficient for many reasons. Two are of particular importance. The first is utilization. If your neighbor’s teenager calls his girlfriend and they hold the phone in silence, very little of the phone system’s capacity is actually used. In the old circuit-switched scenario, two copper wires are used for a phone call, whether any one is talking or not.
The second reason this is more efficient is one of infrastructure. Instead of building two parallel networks, one for data and one for voice, we can unity the two networks and create a single network that costs considerably less to build out than the dual networks we were building before.
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