In the list of hot topics in IT VoIP is near the top. So hot it can only be approached with caution and when you’re sure to be wearing asbestos gloves.

VoIP stands for Voice over Internet Protocol, and describes the routing of telephone conversations over the Internet or other IP based network. This offers a number of advantages over more traditional solutions, especially in terms of cost savings and functionality that can be offered.

Over the last couple of years it would seem that interest in VoIP has increased massively, and this week I shall be off to the second VoIP for business exhibition where I expect I shall see visitor and exhibitor numbers up significantly on last year. To find out more about this event check out VoIPforBusiness.co.uk.

I clearly remember my first experience with VoIP. It was at the Internet World exhibition of ’99. There was a display which said something along the lines of ‘Welcome to the world of tomorrow, phone calls on the Internet!’ Well perhaps it wasn’t that sensational, but I do recall that there were some phones available that would allow you to call anyone you wished.

Not being the sort of person to turn anything down for free, I jumped to the receiver and dialled the one person I know would be at liberty to have a long conversation with me at 11 am in the morning on no particular topic, my father. He was actually as it turned out rather surprised to hear from me, and didn’t seem to show required levels of awe when I told him that the phone call was being transmitted over the Internet.

That was my first known encounter with VoIP. Since then I have used it frequently, sometimes knowingly, most often I would guess without suspecting a thing. VoIP these days appears to be becoming the default standard for corporate telecoms policy, and is perhaps one of the most visible examples of the continuing convergence between computing and communications.

The implications of this explosion of VoIP adoption are not yet apparent, but I’m sure that this will have a greater impact than just reducing the cost of phone calls. I look forward to learning more at the show and to sharing this with you at a later date.