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

Continue Reading About softphone (soft client telephone)



Find more PRO+ content and other member only offers, here.

Start the conversation

Send me notifications when other members comment.

By submitting you agree to receive email from TechTarget and its partners. If you reside outside of the United States, you consent to having your personal data transferred to and processed in the United States. Privacy

Please create a username to comment.


File Extensions and File Formats

Powered by: