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New VoIP standard for videoconferencing

A United Nations-affiliated telecommunications group ratifies a new standard for videoconferencing using voice over IP, a technology that routes calls over the Net.

A United Nations-affiliated telecommunications group has ratified a new standard for videoconferencing using VoIP, or voice over IP, a technology that routes phone calls over the Internet.

The International Telecommunication Union's H.350 standard addresses how a network stores and finds video recordings and VoIP telephone addresses, according to Tyler Johnson, a University of North Carolina systems analyst who edited the standard.

VoIP is a cheaper form of phoning being slowly adopted by businesses and consumers. It uses the Internet Protocol, the world's most popular method for sending data from one computer to another. Unlike traditional telephone lines, VoIP systems can combine video images and someone's voice to create videoconferences.

By following standards, manufacturers are freed of the need to conduct expensive tests to ensure their goods work with gear from other manufacturers, said Peggy Miles, president of digital media and communications specialists Intervox Communications.

Standards "make the investment community and vendors who make hardware and software more comfortable," Miles said.

The United Nations' ITU, originally called the International Telegraph Union, was established in 1865 to oversee an agreement reached between various nations to standardize telegraph networks. The International Telegraph Convention helped calm the chaos that had reigned during the first two decades of country-to-country telegraph communication. Today, the group works with both governments and the private sector to assure interoperability of communications systems.