A softphone is software that allows users to make calls through the Internet from a personal computer or smartphone. It acts as a phone interface, enabling users to dial phone numbers and conduct other phone-related operations via the computer.
A softphone can also be installed on equipment such as workstations, portable computers or even tablets. Usually, conversations take place through a headset connected to the device or via a microphone and computer speakers. In order to communicate, both endpoints must support the same VoIP protocol and at least one common audio codec.
This type of computer telephony utilizes an Internet connection to transmit voice data. Apart from a softphone client and Internet connection, a softphone also requires a provider. Though users can download and use free software, a VoIP service provider must provide the underlying VoIP phone service over which the calls are carried. Often, a softphone is registered with a service provider and a phone number is assigned.
From telecommuters to frequent travellers, many people can benefit from using a softphone. A softphone allows overseas travellers to make calls from their smartphones and personal computers, removing the cost of using hotel phones. Softphone applications are downloadable from several providers.