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This page aims to provide the basis for understanding VoIP protocols and what defines them. With VoIP phone systems acting as the backbone for most businesses, most users will take these systems for granted. This is very normal, and in fact, many users will go through their day without understanding exactly how their systems are working. If you truly want to ensure the best solution, service, and system for your business, understanding what you are getting into can go a long way. VoIP itself isn’t too complicated, and at the end of the day, it’s most important to understand the protocols and standards in which our most loved systems operate.

By uncovering the knowledge of how VoIP systems work, your business can adopt all the features and services that are needed to increase sales, customer satisfaction, and communication methods.

What Are VoIP Protocols?

VoIP stands for Voice over Internet Protocols, and the word “Protocol” is the most important part of how the entire system works. Essentially, VoIP system is a method of transferring audio and video across the internet. Sending data, messages, emails, videos or audio files over the internet isn’t as simple as you think, and all this is done through protocols. Simply put, a protocol is a set of rules that computers will use to govern and explain how data transmissions communicate with each other.

What Protocols do VoIP Rely On?

Now that you have a basic understanding of what a protocol is, it’s time to take a closer look at how they help your VoIP systems. There are so many protocols out there, and many have come and gone over the lifespan of your VoIP system. The vast majority of systems will rely on the two main protocols we will list below. 

In order to dive more into these two protocols, understanding the term intelligent endpoint protocols is important to note. This term is used to describe SIP and H.323 because of the intelligence needed to locate the receiving devices and establish a data transfer. Both protocols that fall under this term have grown to be more popular in recent years. When speaking about SIP and H.323 protocols, it’s hard to say which one is better and which one is worse, because they both do the job. The only thing that it comes down to is which your business works better with and requires.

  1. SIP- SIP, or also known as session initiation protocol, has become the standard for multimedia sessions on the internet. The Engineering Task Force thinks of this protocol as the standard for audio, video and even instant messaging solutions. This task force is simply a large, international community, composed of anyone involved in the networking evolution online. SIP is modular, meaning that it can be changed around in whatever way is needed. Depending on the type of data your business is wishing to transmit, your SIP deployment will need to be designed specifically for this. With that being said, VoIP and IM communications will need to work around these aspects and be designed for one total approach.
    • SIP was developed and is currently controlled, by the Engineering Task Force, which is specifically made for the functionality of all internet actions.
    • SIP doesn’t need any additional software for data to be downloaded and can be utilized for instant messaging and file transfers.
  2. H.323- This protocol has become the international standard for all communication over packet-switched networks. This includes LAN, WAN, and even the general internet networks we all connect to. H.323 is considered an umbrella that includes all types of standards, which is what the internet is based on. Yes, this sounds like a lot of technical terminologies, but simply put, this protocol is like the set of standards that traditional phones communicate on. H.323 focuses on voice, video, and data communications, designed specifically to operate over IP networks. At this point, this protocol has become the world market leader for voice and voice communications over IP networks.
    • H.323 was developed by the international telecommunications union, which is the organization responsible for building the public telephone network.
    • This protocol works well for VOIP systems and video conferencing. This protocol has not been updated much in the past 10 years, making it easy for users to learn this technology and use it in their everyday work lives.

What Does the Future Hold for Protocols?

Of course, the number of protocols is many, and just because the two listed above are the most adopted doesn’t mean that your systems only focus on them. With the changing times and advances in technology, more protocols will be established for everyday use and utilized for all types of VoIP systems. 

If you want to expand your knowledge on VoIP protocols and systems read our guide on learning VoIP intercoms.

Also don’t miss this insightful paper from IEEE which gives an overview of the past, present, and future of IP telephony.