VoIP Gateways and IP Phones
IP Crosses into Public Switched Telephone Networks
There is a lot of confusion over the hardware required to get VoIP working in your home. If you’re considering using a VoIP service to get long-distance savings, chances are you already have a telephone you use on a telecom or Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN). Any phone that connects to a conventional phone service to get a dial tone is referred to as an analogue. A digital or IP phone is a special kind of phone that is capable of connecting to a high-speed internet service and can obtain an IP address that is either fixed or from DHCP (Dynamic Host Control Protocol).
A VoIP ATA is also referred to as VoIP gateway or residential gateway, but it’s not really a "Gateway" in the strictest technical sense. This device will let you keep using that analogue phone and provide it with a dial tone with nothing but a broadband internet connection. It can perform this function by converting your analogue voice to IP format for transmission over a data network. Of course, the data network referred to here is none other than the Internet.
The term "VoIP Gateway" also applies to expensive high-volume equipment used by VoIP providers that employ the VoIP protocol. This VoIP gateway allows your VoIP service provider to move its traffic through a PSTN. Strictly defined, a VoIP gateway is not the analogue/ digital converter used to maintain your analogue phone and connect it to your digital network. A VoIP gateway is really the router for IP traffic. This is also called a "Media Gateway" or SIP Server. SIP is a generic term for a router designed to handle VoIP data.
There might be some misconception about VoIP and the hardware required. All you really need are three things.
What you need:
- Analogue Phone
- High-speed Internet connection
- Analogue Telephone Adaptor or VoIP gateway
If you’re using what’s called an IP phone, then the gateway is no longer required. Most people starting out with a new VoIP service will want to use old faithful. The VoIP gateway is also sometimes called an analogue/digital converter because it converts your voice into data packets to be streamed over the Internet protocol.
So, if you’re looking for a VoIP gateway and see big boxes for huge prices that are designed for enterprise level traffic, chances are you have the wrong definition. Don’t worry; it’s not that expensive from the home-user’s perspective. A household VoIP gateway can be found for less than $200.