VOIP gateways translate the calls into digital data packets that are compatible with the company’s VOIP system from a standard telephone system. A gateway’s primary functions include voice and fax compression/decompression, call routing and control signaling.
VOIP gateways can also be used to direct calls to individuals using in-built routing tables. Apart from translating, they can also mediate between different VOIP protocols such as SIP and H.323 to facilitate compatibility between different VOIP devices as well as VOIP systems.
VOIP gateways are an essential part of any VOIP system and have to be included due to their vital role in facilitating VOIP call translation, although when VOIP was first developed, the systems used to come with VOIP enabled switches and routes that carried out gateway tasks.
As VOIP networks developed and became more sophisticated, most designers began recommending standalone gateways for their systems. Demand then grew for more reliable, high quality services from VOIP service providers and gateways were introduced.
While VOIP technology progressed, VOIP gateways also increased their varieties and suppliers have expanded to help provide for the growing demand. These now include; Nortel Networks, Welltech Computer, Stratus, Quintum Technologies, Mediatrix Telecom as well as Cisco Systems.
There are two different forms of VOIP gateways; software-based gateways and the more popular hardware-based gateways.
Hardware based VOIP gateways are made as modules, chassis cards, or as standalone boxes and are more widely used since they are often more efficient and offer an in-built interface that minimizes computer-processing power.
There are several different configurations for VOIP gateways such as those that offer several different capabilities. Among these are PSTN, PBX fax machine as well as provision for numerous phones best suited for the enterprise market.
VOIP gateways are also able to handle bigger enterprises whose operations are spread countrywide or even around the world. VOIP gateways can even be effective enough to distribute and provide voice communication systems and have become most popular in mainstream America.
VOIP gateways are programmed to provide a variety of individual business needs. Apart from providing for large market enterprises, there are also gateways available for the low-end enterprise markets and small home businesses. Some basic gateways come with a simple phone jack, Ethernet router as well as a firewall that goes for as little as $200.
This type of gateway can easily handle the voice needs of a small office or private home and has two RJ-45 ports - one for a computer or network sharing device and another is a standard RJ-11 telephone jack.
Larger businesses tend to opt for mid-level VOIP gateways selling for around $400 - $2000. This kind of gateway has additional interfaces capable of handling bigger network devices as well as a full range of telephone systems with the usual reliability and flexibility of VOIP systems.