In the following time span of about two decades, various forms of packet telephony were developed and industry interest groups formed to support the new technologies. Following the termination of the ARPANET project, and expansion of the Internet for commercial traffic, IP telephony was tested and deemed infeasible for commercial use until the introduction of VocalChat in the early 1990s and then in Feb 1995 the official release of Internet Phone (or iPhone for short) commercial software by VocalTec , based on the Audio Transceiver patent by Lior Haramaty and Alon Cohen, and followed by other VoIP infrastructure components such as telephony gateways and switching servers. Soon after it became an established area of interest in commercial labs of the major IT concerns. By the late 1990s, the first softswitches became available, and new protocols, such as H.323, MGCP and the Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) gained widespread attention. In the early 2000s, the proliferation of high-bandwidth always-on Internet connections to residential dwellings and businesses, spawned an industry of Internet telephony service providers (ITSPs). The development of open-source telephony software, such as Asterisk PBX, fueled widespread interest and entrepreneurship in voice-over-IP services, applying new Internet technology paradigms, such as cloud services to telephony.
SIP is built to work on a peer-to-peer (meaning endpoint to endpoint) basis. Those two points are called the "user-agent client" and the "user-agent server." Remember that those points can be swapped, so that in SIP, the endpoint making the call is the user-agent client initiating the traffic and endpoint receiving the call is the user-agent server receiving the call.
^ White, C.M.; Teague, K.A.; Daniel, E.J. (November 7–10, 2004). Browse Conference Publications > Signals, Systems and Computer ... Help Working with Abstracts Packet loss concealment in a secure voice over IP environment (PDF). Signals, Systems and Computers, 2004. Conference Record of the Thirty-Eighth Asilomar Conference on. 1. pp. 415–419. CiteSeerX 10.1.1.219.633. doi:10.1109/ACSSC.2004.1399165. ISBN 978-0-7803-8622-8.
The RTCP extended report VoIP metrics block specified by RFC 3611 is generated by an IP phone or gateway during a live call and contains information on packet loss rate, packet discard rate (because of jitter), packet loss/discard burst metrics (burst length/density, gap length/density), network delay, end system delay, signal/noise/echo level, mean opinion scores (MOS) and R factors and configuration information related to the jitter buffer. VoIP metrics reports are exchanged between IP endpoints on an occasional basis during a call, and an end of call message sent via SIP RTCP summary report or one of the other signaling protocol extensions. VoIP metrics reports are intended to support real-time feedback related to QoS problems, the exchange of information between the endpoints for improved call quality calculation and a variety of other applications.
Another area of business VoIP support covers the growing number of mobile employees using softphones for sending and receiving calls from a laptop or mobile device. With a cloud-based PBX solution, you can have employees at different physical locations, including multiple time zones. This makes it easier to support longer business hours to cover your entire customer base. Most of the business offerings offer call routing based on the time of day and time zone.
Other basic features to consider include the phone itself should your provider offer its own handsets. Many residential providers don't since their bridge devices allow them to work with old-style landline phones, but some, especially the larger and more business-oriented players, do offer special VoIP phones. These look and work the same as a regular phone aside from the initial setup process, which will require making sure the phone is connected to your Internet router in some way and then configured to access the VoIP provider's service from there.
The majority of plans are loaded with a great selection of features that can come in handy when you are making or receiving calls. Many providers offer over 30 features included in the low monthly fees. These include basic call management features such as call waiting, call forwarding, call blocking, caller ID name, do not disturb, and voicemail. More advanced features such as the voicemail to email feature let's you access your messages at anytime, even when you are away from your home, simply by checking your email inbox. Distinctive ringing, additional virtual numbers, and Smartphone Calling App's are other examples of more advanced features that can be useful.