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Darwin Day: The Evolution of VoIP

Charles Darwin made an incredible impact on science and scientific processes, developing the theory of evolution and making a huge breakthrough in understanding the origins of the human species and life on earth. February 12 is International Darwin Day, celebrating our hunger for truth, and the rewards that being constantly curious can bring.

At VIP VoIP, we truly appreciate that we are part of an evolutionary process of our own, in telecoms technology, therefore we are taking this opportunity to tell you about the evolution of VoIP, and we will explain exactly what it means, and how it works.

What is VoIP?

VoIP stands for Voice over IP. The IP bit is short for Internet Protocol. Internet protocol is the method by which you send data from one computer to another through the internet.

What VoIP does is allow you to route telephone calls through the internet, which then means you no longer need a physical telephone system onsite.

Essentially this means that rather than having to manage two networks, your internet and your telephone, you now just have a single one. 

How Has VoIP Evolved?

VoIP is as much a revolution as it is an evolution, because it has shifted telecommunications away decisively from its traditional reliance on existing PBX (private branch exchange) phone systems.

However, despite being very much a part of the modern digital age, VoIP’s origins go back further than you might think.

It depends on three main elements: the telephone, the internet and internet protocol.

The first VoIP transmissions were in 1973, as part of an experimental programme designed for the US Department of Defence by the Advanced Research Projects Agency Network (ARPANET). By today’s standards, this computer network was very rudimentary, but it established the principle for VoIP’s further evolution.

The increase in business telephone networks more demand for new ways to support these communications, but the growth of VoIP only really started to happen at the end of the 1990s, on the back of the spread of PCs, during the previous decade.

More PC owners were subscribing to internet service providers, following the 1989 development of the hypertext transfer protocol (HTTP).

The first successful voicemail applications came from the company VocalTec in 1996, with the first proper VoIP application. Even so, at this stage in VoIP’s evolution, the service was prone to disruption and inconsistency.

The Growth and Development of VoIP

Following the introduction of VocalTec’s first Internet phone software, Microsoft NetMeeting, also in 1996, the company went on to broaden VoIP’s capacities, including computer-to-telephone and telephone-to-telephone.

At the end of 1998, VoIP accounted for 1% of all voice calls. The fact that users had to put up with messages from sponsoring advertisers made the system seem less attractive at this time. But while these were modest beginnings, manufacturers were developing more advanced telephone and telecommunications systems, which would eventually capitalise on the improved speed and quality, and reduced costs, that VoIP offered.

Soon more companies were introducing VoIP add-ons to their routing equipment, making it significantly more accessible, and attractive, to potential users.

By 2003, the number of VoIP calls had increased to 25% of all voice calls.

This increase came with the growth in availability of broadband ethernet services, which meant vastly improved call quality and better connectivity.

Internet users were now finding they could do several things at once, such as browsing, playing games and making calls, without it affecting the quality of the connection.

Now VoIP was entering the mass market.

Making the Switch

One significant advance in technology for VoIP involved manufacturers making equipment that meant an easier switchover of voice data from the internet to information which the telephone networks would recognise. Previously, the computer’s own processing unit would need to do all the hard work, but now this hardware took care of it.

This new switch hardware made VoIP even more attractive to consumers, who were realising that using VoIP could save them money in making telephone calls, including long distances.

The New Age of Mass Communication

VoIP was now an established means of mass communication, with software such as Skype helping to establish it as a worldwide phenomenon.

Now, more and more businesses and organisations are taking advantage of VoIP’s calling capabilities, creating dynamic, unified communications hubs and exploring and enjoying the full benefits that VoIP systems can bring.

The Business Benefits of VoIP

VoIP would not have evolved so dramatically if it did not offer users significant benefits.

What it does offer businesses is the potential for:

  • reduced costs;
  • improved productivity; and
  • better collaboration.

It means having a single network, to which you can add, move or change phones and locations. VoIP provides a huge amount of flexibility while keeping costs down.

It can revolutionise how your employees communicate, and how they work. It means more opportunities for mobile and home working, and ease of access to data and system resources, whenever, and wherever, they require it.

VoIP supports better, more efficient collaborative working, with employees using this technology individually or in teams, taking advantage of an accessible, easy-to-use communications interface.

Experience Your Own Evolution

Discover how VoIP can transform your communications and take your business to the next stage. Give us a call on 03300 991 182, or email us at and let’s start the conversation.