VoIP Tutorial

INTRODUCTION

Voice over IP (VoIP) defines a way to carry voice calls over an IP network including the digitization and packetization of the voice streams. IP Telephony utilizes the VoIP standards to create a telephony system where higher level features such as advanced call routing, voice mail, contact centers, unlimited calling, long distance calling etc., can be utilized.

VoIP and IP telephony are ever more admired by large corporate organizations and consumers. Many people are in impression that Internet Protocol (IP) is limited only as a way to transport data, but that is not actually a true statement. IP is also a protocol tool that simplifies and streamlines a wide range of business applications.

VoIP—or voice over IP—is the basis for the foundation of more advanced unified communications applications—these include:

  • Web and video conferencing. These features help businesses to completely transform the way they do business for their benefit.
  • VoIP technology. This is the technique that carries phone calls over an IP network. It doesn’t matter whether you are on internet or your own internal network. VoIP helps your business to reduce expenses as voice calls travel over the data network rather than the phone company’s network.

WHAT IS VOIP?

Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) technology usually works on broadband internet connections VoIP communicates and makes phone calls over established internet connections, similar  with analog telephone lines.  A basic VoIP system makes calls over to another person who is also receiving calls on internet connection.

Interconnected VoIP services also allow you to make and receive calls to and from traditional landline numbers, usually for a service fee. Some VoIP services require a computer or a dedicated VoIP phone, while others allow you to use your landline phone to place VoIP calls through a special adapter.

VoIP is today a very attractive and cheap communication option available in telecom industries.

Today VoIP services gain much popularity and day by day it is increasing drastically offering high voice quality and cheap call rates over basic broadband connections.

As the VoIP penetration to consumers increases, so the potential threats to the users. Apart from the cheap and attractive services by VoIP, it is also vulnerable to many threats, scams, and attacks because VoIP calls now traverse the internet.

VOIP CONFIGURATION

In a basic VoIP network setup we have the following important components.

Routers

Router’s basic function is routing the data traffic. However, routers allow you also to use your traditional phone to place VoIP calls if you have a special adapter installed on the router device.

They are connected with cable/DSL modem (or any high speed internet connection) and allow you to connect a telephone on them. They need to be configured with an appropriate VoIP provider and service plan, with no special software requirements to interact with the computer. You just have to pick up your phone and dial a number at the dial tone.

Switches

Switches act as the channel that forward the incoming data from multiple input sources to the specific output port towards the intended destination. These are used to connect a number of IP phones or analog phones and computer systems for the users as per the numbers required. These switches then forward the data to single destination (to the router usually) which then routes the traffic to the configured destination path and move forward the VoIP call.

 Adapters (USB)

Adapters are used to use traditional phones to place VoIP calls. They usually are in the form of USB adapter connectors that is larger than a typical thumb drive. You can attach an ordinary phone line to the standard jack modular phone provided in that. Once you finish with the connection, you phone will behave like a standard phone service. But actually a Voip software is running at the backend of the system which helps to make a call.

Software-controlled VoIP applications: “softphones”

There are many softphone applications available in the market that help you to place a VoIP call directly from your normal PC with any headset, microphone etc. These applications and services can be provided by telecom providers. With these applications users are allowed to talk to other people using many services (such as voice and video) almost at no cost. A VoIP application based on software instead of hardware is installed on your computer. This is the Softphone. These are quite attractive and cheap as well for the consumer.

Dedicated VoIP phones

There are also dedicated phones available today in the market with several advanced features. VoIP phones are like simple and ordinary phones available for home with cord or without cord/cordless phones. A VoIP phone which has a dedicated connection consists of phone and base station which further connects to the internet or can also operate on local wireless network. Same like VoIP adapters, dedicated Phones can also be offered from voip provider with service plans to work.

Requirements for VoIP and Availability

VoIP services don’t have all the features, functionality and other options equally as with traditional landline services; there are some basic requirements, availability and some possible service limitations of VoIP service compared to traditional landline telephony. Before you opt in to VoIP as a primary means of communication or an enhancement to your current services you need to know the requirements and limitations.

Requirements

The main and basic requirement for a VoIP system to work is to have basic internet connection through an ISP that allows a VoIP service to actually make the calls or a VoIP service to extend the reach to traditional landlines. But Plain Old Telephone Service doesn’t need any of these services to make the call. It is important to note that Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) internet service uses traditional phone lines for your internet connection; so that your internet with DSL already have telephone service to begin with.

Availability of Power Supply

Power outage is the major threat with the VoIP service as they become unavailable under typical power outage. VoIP devices like computers, routers, adapters etc all rely on power supply to run. So power supply is the most critical resource for VoIP to function properly. If you really don’t want this to happen in case of emergency you can use an uninterruptable power supply (UPS) with a VoIP installation if you are in urgent need of connectivity during power outage or in any emergency.

Connectivity Bandwidth Availability

High-speed internet connection is another important requirement for reliable functionality of VoIP communication. In fact, speed of the internet connectivity may affect your voice quality and many other interruptions you may face while calling. Slow bandwidth may degrade your quality of service. For example if you are trying to make a call and some other person are using a lot of bandwidth like some downloading on the same internet connection, the sound quality of your call will be affected badly.

911 services

911 service is available for many interconnected VoIP and traditional landline services but this is not a service with basic voip (VoIP to VoIP setup). Even if you have interconnected VoIP services, 911 services are not assumed to be present and working. You need to see the terms of service agreement to make sure you have 911 services. There are some tips and some challenges for VoIP services described under the FCC agreement for subscribers.

BASIC CISCO VOIP SETUP

In this VoIP network architecture setup there are two sites Site A and Site B which are connected by a point to point serial connection.  The two sites are connected by two Cisco 2811 ISR routers. For the LAN connectivity we have used two Cisco 3560 POE switches to connect all local LAN devices such as phones, computers etc.

What should be the output of the architecture?

  • Setup Working PPP WAN between two sites
  • Setup NAT at each site if you need internet access
  • Configure Routers telephony services
  • Setup Configuration of Phones
  • Setup a Site-to-Site Calling

 

Equipment Used in Architecture

  • 2 – Cisco 2811 Routers w/WIC-1T
  • 2 – Cisco 3560 24port POE
  • 4 – Cisco 7960 IP Phones
  • 4 – Computers

 

Site Configuration

Site 1

 

  • LAN IP (data):192.168.10.0/24
  • LAN IP (voice):192.168.50.0/24
  • WAN IP: 4.0.0.1/30
  • VLANS: Data-40, Voice-50
  • Phone Ext. – 54001, 54002

Step 1: Configure interface FastEthernet 0/0 and DHCP server  on RouterA (2811 router)

!Configure the FA 0/0 interface

RouterA>enable

RouterA#configure terminal

RouterA(config)#interface FastEthernet0/0

RouterA(config-if)#ip address 192.168.10.1 255.255.255.0

RouterA(config-if)#no shutdown

The DHCP server is needed to provide an IP address and the TFTP server location for each IP phone connected to the network.

! Create DHCP pool named VOICE

RouterA(config)#ip dhcp pool VOICE

! DHCP network 192.168.10 with /24 mask

RouterA(dhcp-config)#network 192.168.10.0 255.255.255.0

! #The default router IP address#

RouterA(dhcp-config)#default-router 192.168.10.1

! #Mandatory for voip configuration. Option 150 is the server for the phones to boot up

RouterA(dhcp-config)#option 150 ip 192.168.10.1

After the configuration, wait a moment  and check that ‘IP Phone 1’ has received an IP address.

Step 2: Configure the Call Manager Express telephony service on RouterA

You must now configure the Call Manager Express telephony service on RouterA to enable VoIP on your network.

! #Configuring the router for telephony services#

RouterA(config)#telephony-service

! #Define the maximum number of directory numbers#

 

RouterA(config-telephony)#max-dn 5

! #Define the maximum number of phones#

RouterA(config-telephony)#max-ephones 5

! #IP Address source used for the telephony service

RouterA(config-telephony)#ip source-address 192.168.10.1 port 2000

! ! #Automatically assigning ext numbers to buttons#

RouterA(config-telephony)#auto assign 4 to 6

RouterA(config-telephony)#auto assign 1 to 5

 

Step 3: Configure a voice vlan on SwitchA

Apply the following configuration on SwitchA interfaces.

This configuration will separate voice and data traffic in different vlans on SwitchA.

Data packets will be carried on the access vlan.

! #Configure interface range#

SwitchA(config)#interface range fa0/1 – 5

SwitchA(config-if-range)#switchport mode access

! #Define the VLAN on which voice packets will be handled#

SwitchA(config-if-range)#switchport voice vlan 50

Step 4: Configure the phone directory for IP Phone 1

Although ‘IP Phone 1’ is already connected to SwitchA, it needs additional configuration before being able to communicate. You need to configure RouterA CME to assign a phone number to this IP phone.

! #Defining the first directory entry#

RouterA(config)#ephone-dn 1

! #Assign the phone number to this entry#

RouterA(config-ephone-dn)#number 54001

Step 5: Verify the Configuration

Ensure that the IP Phone receives an IP Address and the phone number 54001 from RouterA  (this can take a short while).

Step6: Configure the phone directory for IP Phone 2

Connect IP Phone 2 to SwitchA and power the phone ON using the power adapter.

!#Defining the second directory entry#

RouterA(config)#ephone-dn 2

! #Assign a phone number to this entry#

RouterA(config-ephone-dn)#number 54002

Task 7: Verify the configuration

Ensure that the IP Phone 2 receives an IP Address and the phone number 54002 from RouterA  (this can take a short while). Same procedure as task n°5.

Dial 54001 and check if IP phone 1 correctly receives the call.

 

Site 2

  • LAN IP (data): 10.0.4.0/24
  • LAN IP (voice): 10.0.5.0/24
  • WAN IP: 4.0.0.2/30
  • VLANS – Data-40, Voice-50
  • Phone Ext. 2000

 

Similar configuration as Site 1

 

IP Telephony and VoIP-Some Questions Asked

Is it worthy to implement an IP Telephony infrastructure in a business?

A company that is just starting out to implement a network infrastructure should think seriously to invest in VoIP and try to avoid the investment in other telephony infrastructure (e.g legacy PBX system) to support voice communications. Also, a firm that has already developed a network infrastructure and has operations in different locations which are connected together, should assess the benefits of implementing an IP Telephony solution by calculating costs and savings. Finally, a company that believes that future telephone needs will increase significantly or has high telephone traffic, should consider implementing solutions in VoIP.

How widespread is the use of IP telephony in enterprises

The truth is that despite the long presence of the VoIP technology, its penetration is not very widespread. According to In-Stat/MDR company, in 2004 VoIP was used only by 12% of U.S. businesses, a figure which is estimated to reach 70% this year. At international level the percentages are even lower. It is worth noting that large companies have the highest penetration. Factors related to delay the penetration of IP telephony are issues related to attitude (commitment to traditional technology), while clearly related with the technological immaturity of the technology in some places and the high cost of transition to IP platform. The technology is now mature enough and affordable, so it will also have higher rates of market growth compared to previous years.

Is IP Telephony only implemented at a corporate level?

The use of IP telephony is not just in the business environment. Firstly, several alternative telecommunications companies use the IP technology to provide telephony services. Also, many traditional telecommunications companies around the world consider the gradual replacement of their networks by packet switched networks, in an effort to make better use of their telecommunications infrastructure. You should not also ignore the great potential that the penetration of IP telephony has in the consumer level. A great indicator is the phenomenal success of the Skype service, which allows users to make free VoIP calls, as registered users of the service has exceeded 24 million. They have already made their appearance similar services in the market and it is clear that the future will be more promising with the increase in penetration of broadband Internet.

How secure are the telephone calls via VoIP ?

The fact that over the same network we have a variety of information transported, and the network serves many users, certainly raises security concerns and the possibility of interception of these telephone conversations. This possibility exists, as there is for the interception of any kind of information carried over the corporate network. However, in circumstances requiring increased security, there are technologies that can ensure the voice privacy with encryption. However, since this is affecting the performance of the entire telecommunications network, just as in the case of secure web pages, encryption is only recommended in cases where security is essential or when using a public communication network such as the Internet.

What can we expect in the future?

For the future we should consider as sure thing the increasing usage of packet data networks and especially IP-based networks for telephony. The trend is there also for big telecommunications companies which implement their backbone networks on such IP technologies but also for companies that build their network infrastructure for telephony. Also, as data networks and telephony will be consolidated, we will see more and more addressing protocols that enable us to send emails to and from landline telephones to call a user computer from our phone and vice versa, making the most out of the phone and the voice part of the communication network. In addition, a very important perspective is related to the deployment of IP telephony over wireless broadband networks. Although not considered a threat to other forms of telephony, it may find application in various fields of entrepreneurship.

What is a SIP IP Phone

A SIP IP Phone is actually a normal IP Telephone but it uses the SIP protocol for voice signalling communication. It can therefore allow a user to make and receive calls using the Voice over IP (VoIP) technology. The SIP telephone must be used with an IP Telephony system (IP PBX) that supports the SIP standard. Such IP Telephony systems are the Cisco CallManager, Avaya, Asterisk, etc.

There are two types of SIP Phones. A hardware SIP IP phone and a software SIP phone. The first type (hardware SIP phone) looks just like a regular telephone handset but it uses the Internet Protocol (IP) to communicate the voice conversation. The software SIP phones are used as software applications on a computer. They allow therefore any computer with a speaker and microphone to behave like a telephone. You also need a broadband internet connection and a subscription service with a VoIP provider or with a SIP proxy server.

What is H323 and SIP

What is H323

H323 is a set of standards from ITU-T that provides a set of protocols for offering audio and video communication over a computer network.

H323 is a relatively old protocol and is now replaced by the SIP Protocol – Session Initiation Protocol. One of the advantages of SIP is that it is a much less complex protocol and resembles protocols like HTTP / SMTP.

Therefore, most VOIP equipment available today follow the SIP standard. However, older equipment rather follow the VOIP H 323 standard.

What is SIP – Session Initiation Protocol

The SIP, short for Session Initiation Protocol, is an IP telephony signalling protocol used for initiating, managing and terminating phone calls using VOIP. SIP was created by IETF organization and published as IETF RFC 3261

SIP describes the communication needed to make a phone call. The details are further described in the SDP protocol.

SIP has made a big buzz in the world of VOIP. The protocol is similar to HTTP, its text-based and is very open and flexible. Therefore, it has largely replaced the standard H323.

The rapid growth of VoIP

Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) telephony is growing rapidly worldwide, usually within the double-play business model, i.e the provision of broadband internet and telephony together. The benefits of the new technology have literally revolutionized the world of fixed-line telephony and now VoIP is directly threatening all the major traditional telecommunications companies. As the VoIP service integration with data traffic is achieved (ie Internet access and telephony over a single network), the result is- especially for long distance calls – the Internet charges are very low and often below those of local calls. Have you understood how important the benefits are for SMEs which are seeking to cut costs in highly competitive environments? (Particularly for companies that trade overseas). Even in Britain the VoIP phone service has taken its own area code and a program that offers free phones among Internet users has already passed the 50 million users.

Often there is a misconception that Voice over IP means only low rates. In fact, Internet telephony has more to offer. It is here to integrate voice services with the world of IP, the Internet. The potential of businesses and professionals are truly limitless. An example of VoIP services is for example an automated call assistant operator where messages are answered and the message left can be sent to you on email. Also, personal list of phone contacts online and more. For example, the user of VoIP can configure the house phone to ring on his/her mobile. The possibilities are endless and offer unprecedented flexibility in communication.

VoIP telephony is growing rapidly and already many businesses choose it for their communication. Small and medium enterprises, for which both the flexibility and low telecommunication costs are critical factors for survival and effective response to competition, have much to benefit.

The Introduction of VoIP in Telecommunications

The increased needs for voice and data communication in small and larger businesses have resulted in finding new methods for simultaneously communicating these two forms of information. The technology which dominates to meet those needs is Voice over IP – voice over Internet Protocol TCP / IP.

The Voice over IP (VoIP) service uses the Internet protocol (IP) to carry phone conversations, converting analogue voice into IP packets. The current model focuses on voice telecommunications and related services in wireless and wired telephony. The Voice over IP service is part of real time transmission services, which tends to replace the conventional telephone technology, thus affecting the prices of telephone services worldwide. The principle upon which the operation of voice over IP works is that a customer pays a certain amount to join the network and then pays according to time usage and the equipment used (based on distance).

The frequency required by the IP technology to transmit data is at least six times lower than that of traditional telecommunications networks that are now used by most subscribers worldwide. This significant difference makes calls via VoIP clearly more economical, and in many cases the call over the Internet can cost up to 90% cheaper than that through the traditional telecommunications network.

Many European and US telecommunications companies have begun to invest strongly in Voice over IP. By 2010 all communication needs of these companies (voice, fax, data transfer, video conferencing, etc.) will be provided only over IP.

The new service is widely used in enterprises as well. Studies estimated that in the next years the development of voice over IP will be fast and the traffic volume will be higher than that in traditional telephony. Suppliers of telecommunications equipment have started to include in their products support for the IP protocol and all equipment suppliers include IP voice as one of the key features of their products.