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What Is IP and Why Do I Want It?

January 07, 2014

 By Mae Kowalke, TMCnet Contributor

You may have heard the term “IP” bandied around. While it stands for many things, including “intellectual property,” the most common use of the term IP is for “Internet protocol.” Basically, IP is the Internet.

IP is the way that data travels across the Internet “tubes,” and it has spawned a revolution on many fronts as more technologies move to the Internet and take advantage of IP.

Two of the best known migrations have spawned their own terms: voice-over-IP (VoIP) and fax-over-IP (FoIP).

VoIP lets telephone calls travel over the Internet instead of telephone lines (unless those telephone lines are carrying Internet traffic). The advantage of this is many, including less resource use because a call does not need to use dedicated infrastructure the way calling used to do in the days of telephone wires. Even if the Internet traffic that VoIP uses happens to be carried over telephone lines, it will only consume a fraction of the traffic carried on the line instead of the whole line.

How this helps consumers is that VoIP calling is much cheaper than traditional calling, and this is partially due to using less resources.

FoIP delivers the same benefits. It often is cheaper to fax over the Internet, because just like VoIP it does not require as many resources.

Another big advantage of using IP is that these services go from analog to digital, and that delivers added functionality that just could not be possible before.

Like offering hosted fax, for instance. By using a service such as FaxSIPit, it now is possible for a business to outsource its fax to the cloud in much the same way as many of us have outsourced our e-mail to the cloud by using services like Gmail.

This can save on cost, and it certainly saves on hassle—there’s no need to buy or maintain fax equipment.

So IP is a good thing. At least when it comes to telephone calls and faxing.

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