Having set up and used VoIP systems for a little while I thought I would provide a layman's guide to what it is, how it works, what's needed to operate it and general information.
Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) is a means of communication whereby the service provider hosts a server that can be accessed via the Internet by its users. Voice (and data) traffic is sent to and from the server and users communicate in this way. To access the server, users are given log in credentials and these are used when signing in to the service.
There are many ways of placing your traffic onto the server: directly by PC using the sound card/mic and speakers, by connecting a radio via an interface to the computer being used to access the server and by mobile phone device access using dedicated software.
The software used transfers the traffic using a coding system that the servers can decode into voice.
EchoLink, for example, takes your voice traffic either directly from the PC (User mode) or from the node radio, via a connecting interface, to your PC (Sysop mode). You simply "dial in" the node number of the person you wish to speak to and, once connected, you conduct the conversation.
It really is basically that simple. There are more technicalities in how the systems actually work but for a layman's guide this should suffice.
Different systems (EchoLink, IRLP, All star etc.) can be linked with bridging software, however this is quite complex and best left to the experts.
BroadNet is a commercial VoIP service and is used mainly for professional communications via the Internet. BroadNet do offer a service for exclusive use by Radio Amateurs. Their UK NET gives access to registered users and there is a bridge into the AllStar UK Hub. They supply a mobile phone adapted for use with the service, which looks like a radio but is in fact an Android mobile phone with a PTT switch and external antenna. Access is via mobile phone data and it is supplied SIM free and can also be used for calls and texts, as it uses the mobile network.
If anybody needs any help or more information on setting up for VoIP, drop me an email firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll walk you through it
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