Definition of VOIP
Voice over IP (VOIP) refers to the use of the internet protocol (IP) to transfer voice communications in much the same way that web pages and e-mail are transferred. Each piece of voice data is digitized in to chunks and then sent across the Internet (in the case of public VOIP) to a destination server where the chunks are re-assembled. This process happens in real-time so that two or more people can carry on a conversation.
The advantages of VOIP are typically related to cost because it doesn't cost any more to transmit this data across the street as it does across the country. Hence, many consumer VOIP providers are able to offer long-distance service across the US and Canada for a flat fee making them very competitive with the offerings from traditional phone providers. The slightly lower sound quality sometimes associated with VOIP as compared to landlines has proven to not be much of a deterrent.