A category of hardware and software that enables people to use the Internet as the transmission medium for telephone calls. For users who have free, or fixed-price Internet access, Internet telephony software essentially provides free telephone calls anywhere in the world. To date, however, Internet telephony does not offer the same quality of telephone service as direct telephone connections.
There are many Internet telephony applications available. Some, like CoolTalk and NetMeeting, come bundled with popular Web browsers. Others are stand-alone products. Internet telephony products are sometimes called IP telephony, Voice over the Internet (VOI) or Voice over IP (VOIP) products.