The term "IP phone" refers to a telephone, which enables the processing of voice communication via the internet protocol and the internet or an intranet. One often speaks of so-called Voice-over-IP telephony (VoIP telephony) or VoIP telephones. The IP telephone converts analogue voice signals into digital signals and packages these in data packages that can be transferred via Internet Protocol.
IP telephones can be realised as hardware devices, and also a pure software solutions. A software IP telephone is a program, which is installed on a computer and uses its internet connection in order to exchange the voice data. The computer additionally requires a microphone and loudspeaker or a headset. Because it is always possible to operate VoIP devices on any internet connection, IP telephones can also be used on a nomadic basis (mobile and fixed-line).
It also possible to convert conventional telephones into VoIP telephones using an appropriate adapter. In order that the user is able to communicate using an IP telephone with other participants on conventional, analogue or digital telephone connections, special gateways are installed in the respective networks, which realise the transition from voice into data networks and vice versa.
A huge advantage of VoIP telephony lies in the fact that users of this technology only require a network connection. The entire communication process is handled via this internet connection. In this way it is possible to minimise the costs of infrastructure and network connections.