IP telephony (Internet Protocol telephony) is a general term for the technologies that use the Internet Protocol's packet-switched connections to exchange voice, fax, and other forms of information that have traditionally been carried over the dedicated circuit-switched connections of the public switched telephone network (PSTN). Using the Internet, calls travel as packets of data on shared lines, avoiding the tolls of the PSTN. The challenge in IP telephony is to deliver the voice, fax, or video packets in a dependable flow to the user. Much of IP telephony focuses on that challenge.
IP telephony service providers include or soon will include local telephone companies, long distance providers such as AT&T, cable TV companies, Internet service providers (ISPs), and fixed service wireless operators. IP telephony services also affect vendors of traditional handheld devices.