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International Women’s Day: Focus on Marian Croak


Voice over Internet Protocol, or VoIP, is something we take for granted, but like all innovations, it came from somewhere, and someone. That someone is Marian Croak. To celebrate International Women’s Day on 8 March, in in recognition of women’s achievements in technology and business, today we are focusing on this remarkable individual.

Who is Marian Croak?

Dr Marian Croak is a Black American woman, who is widely credited with the invention of Voice over Internet Protocol, which enables people to use their internet connection and network for voice and multimedia communications. Perhaps the most common form of this technology in use is Skype, but in fact VoIP’s potential goes a lot further than this.

Throughout her long career, Marian Croak has applied for or been granted around 350 patents, and many of these form the foundation for the digital networks we know and rely upon today. She has a PhD in social psychology and quantitative analysis.

Marian Croak joined the company AT&T at Bell Laboratories in 1982. She became an early advocate for switching from wired telephone technology to internet protocol services. One of her pioneering initiatives was in making it easier for charities to use phone services for appeals, filing a patent for text-based donations to charity in 2005; and enabling the 2010 Haitian earthquake charity to collect around $30 million. She predicted that the internet and IP would go on to play a key role in communications development, and therefore began to develop technology to enable this to happen. These became the fundamental foundations for VoIP.

In recognition of her achievements, Marian Croak has been inducted into the Women in Technology Hall of Fame in 2013, and was named the 2014 Black Engineer of the Year, and one of the Most Influential Women in Wireless. At AT&T, Marian Croak was vice president of its services network in research and development, including Domain 2.0 architecture, managing a large team of engineers, designers and developers. Much of the focus was on software-defined networking, and functions such as visualisation technology.

She left AT&T in 2014 to join Google, and now serves as Vice President for Engineering there. She heads up research and development for access strategy at Google,  helping to expand internet access globally. This has included her leading the project to bring WiFi to India’s huge railway system.

How VoIP Works

The key thing about VoIP is that it does not use a telephone line. Instead, it uses the internet. VoIP may also be referred to as IP or internet telephony. VoIP takes analogue voice signals and converts them into digital signals, which means it can then send them as data via a broadband internet connection. Depending on how this kind of system is set up, it can mean cheaper usage because it is no longer governed by issues of physical distance, national boundaries, or even how much time you spend on the phone itself.

Voice over Internet Protocol works with a regular landline phone and a VoIP adaptor; with a computer, using applications such as Skype or Zoom; and with a smartphone using certain apps. It is therefore, extremely adaptable in a variety of circumstances. To use VoIP, you need a broadband connection, preferably fibre optic and unlimited, to ensure the best possible experience in using this technology.

Business VoIP Features

If businesses take full advantage of VoIP’s various features, they will discover a system that is both flexible and scalable, and is especially suited to SMEs looking to expand their communications network and capability.

VoIP is versatile in providing multi-site capabilities, offering flexibility to employers and employees when it comes to off-site or home-working. It offers superior call handling solutions, including call-routing, automated menus, out-of-hours and call-forwarding voicemails. It has features well-suited to call centres, including expandability and detailed metrics.

You will also find excellent system compatibility with a wide range of software VoIP phones, but also smartphones and handsets.

Why International Women’s Day Matters

Despite achieving so much, and driving innovation forward for the benefit of so many, Marian Croak is not exactly a household name. Often the achievements of technical pioneers get lost amid the general media excitement and interest over the ongoing technological advancement of things that are around us and that we largely take for granted.

International Women’s Day celebrates the social, economic, political and cultural achievements of women around the world. It is also a call to action for gender equality. Marian Croak has achieved something that is continuing to transform people’s lives and the fortunes of many businesses on a global scale. That is well worth celebrating. Without her pioneering efforts and instincts about realising the potential of the internet as a communications tool, you would not be reading this.

 Make VoIP Part of Your Business

What if there was a straightforward solution to your business communications issues that also meant you could expand and adapt your telephone system easily, efficiently and cost-effectively?

Call us on 03300 881 182, email, or complete our online enquiry form, and we’ll be in touch as soon as possible.