Definition

softphone (soft client telephone)

This definition is part of our Essential Guide: Unified communications technology basics

A softphone (software telephone) is an application program that enables voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) telephone calls from computing devices. In the enterprise, softphones are sometimes referred to as soft clients.

Most softphone applications work in conjunction with a headset and microphone, a specialized VoIP phone (sometimes called a hardphone) or by using a device called an analog telephone adaptor (such as magicJack) which enables VoIP calling from a standard telephone handset.

Although softphones are most often associated with mobile or home users, office workers are also choosing to use softphones as a convenient replacement for traditional desk phones. This can be problematic for network administrators because the traffic generated by softphones has the potential to flood a network. 

In many cases, the network management system cannot differentiate traffic generated by a softphone from traffic generaged by other software applications. To complicate things, sometimes IP phones use the same protocols as softphones and compete with each other for bandwidth

See also: Vonage, Skype, IP telephony

This was last updated in March 2008

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SoftPhone can be used to make voice/video calls over internet. Unlike traditional phonelines or GSM network towers it uses the internet and VoIP protocols (SIP) to make calls. You can install SoftPhone on computer or mobile phone and register SIP account with a sip provider and dial the other VoIP number. If the VoIP provider terminates the calls to GSM networks from his server, then you can make calls to GSM numbers too. If you have VoIP servers or IPPBX you can use softphones like x-lite, zoiper, SipCo softphone to make VoIP calls between SIP users /PBX extensions.
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