What is Internet telephony?

Posted on: August 29th, 2014 - Written by: John Blomberg

According to Margaret Rouse, manager of TechTarget’s IT encyclopedia and learning center, Internet telephony can be defined as follows:

“Internet telephony is the use of the Internet rather than the traditional telephone company infrastructure and rate structure to exchange spoken or other telephone information.”1

In other words, Internet telephony utilizes web-based computer applications to accomplish tasks usually handled by the telephone.

Undoubtedly, this technology is here to stay, and you have probably utilized Internet telephony without even realizing it. Remember when your bank sent you a text message notifying you of your balance? A prime example of Internet telephony. How about when an online account asks you to text your password for authentication of your identity? Internet telephony again.

Telephony services are astonishingly prevalent and accessible, and the ways an app can utilize phone-related communications are seemingly endless. For example, the scheduling reminders you’ve received over your landline phone—perhaps for doctors’ appointments—that prompt a voice or keypad response are driven by telephony technology.

But the advances in Internet telephony have not come without challenges. For a telephony application to run smoothly, a plethora of issues must be considered and addressed, including,

  • Compatibility Research. Today’s use of widely varying types of mobile devices  means that developers must do their research to make sure telephony applications work on a majority of user devices.
  • Fallback Plans. Despite thorough compatibility research, there are bound to be some customers whose devices are not supported. In these situations, something must be done to accommodate these clients.
  • Unavoidable Glitches. As with any technological solution, unavoidable glitches will happen, sometimes outside the developer’s control. In such instances, developers must be able to efficiently solve the problems at hand without succumbing to finger pointing and blaming others.

One company that is embracing the challenges of further developing Internet telephony is Twilio. “Twilio offers something called an API (application programming interface), which is a way to connect two applications.”2 This article discusses how Twilio has been used to connect “a Web app with a telecom company that provides text messaging. Twilio lets web apps communicate in other ways, too, like fire up a voice call (perhaps to a customer service rep) or send photo texts.”2

And Twilio’s reach is far:

“‘While you may not have directly used our API, you probably have communicated on your phone through Twilio. You just don’t know about it,’” Twilio CEO Jeff Lawson told Business Insider. “‘In 2013, we communicated with 95% of all American adults on the applications people built on top of Twilio.’”

Another company utilizing the power of Internet telephony to better communications is Oaisys. “Oaisys provides easy-to-use, practical, and affordable call recording solutions in support of regulatory compliance and quality monitoring requirements.”3 Offering services to a wide range of industries—automotive, legal, government, financial, insurance, healthcare, public safety, and public utilities—Oaisys’ phone recording services, audio file storage, and file retrieval system all function within a web application specifically designed to handle the large amount of data received from Oaisys’ clients.

Internet telephony is not going anywhere, and development firms who want to stay on the cutting edge of the industry would do well to pay close attention to trends and customer needs in this area. Though challenges are certainly present, particularly when the application needed is for a mission-critical function, the “heavy lifting” required by development firms will reap long-term benefits for companies and clients alike.


1 http://searchunifiedcommunications.techtarget.com/definition/Telephony

2 http://www.businessinsider.com/you-dont-know-youre-using-twilio-2014-8#ixzz3B2jt3ydr

3 http://www.oaisys.com/

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