1.1. Hacks 17: Introduction
Voice over IP (or VoIP for short) is a technology that allows Internet Protocol (IP) networks like the Internet to be used to enable voice communication, similar in some ways to a telephone. Some folks call VoIP IP telephonyand the technology comes in many forms, from desktop communication software to automated message recording and fax integration tools.
But in its simplest form, IP telephony enables you to place phone calls over the Internet rather than over a traditional phone line. This is a pretty big deal, since no long-distance charges or hefty federal access taxes are levied on Internet-based phone calls. Plus, IP telephony lets you integrate your desktop PC, your desk phone, and your cell phone in ways never before imagined. I'm anxious to share the details with you in this book.
In the tradition of O'Reilly's Hacks book series, you'll be using short hacks, like the basic ones in this chapter, to learn about Voice over IP and computer-based telephony. I, and a number of my peers in the telecommunications industry, have contributed some of the most useful, most educational, and coolest projects to VoIP Hacks. Hopefully, beginning right here in this chapter, you'll be saying, "I didn't know you could do that with VoIP!"