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Two key differences between VoIP and traditional telephone technology are the network over which a call is transmitted and the transmission format. In traditional telephony, a call over the public switched telephone network (PSTN) generally results in the creation of an end-to-end circuit that establishes a physical connection between the caller and the called party through the wires, cables and switches of the telephone network. The circuit exists for the duration of the call until hang-up, and is typically dedicated to the voice signals flowing between the two parties participating in the call. In contrast, in a VoIP call there is no dedicated circuit. The contents of a VoIP call flow between the caller and the called party over various networks that comprise the Internet. This happens through a router or switch operated by the VoIP provider, which matches a telephone number with an IP address. Different portions of a VoIP call may be routed over different transmission paths, with the contents of the call moving over the Internet amidst other traffic, including other VoIP calls, e-mails, miscellaneous data and video traffic.
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