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Chapter 2. Your Internet Phone > Computer-Centric Providers

2.2. Computer-Centric Providers

Every computer attached to the Internet (with the right software) can communicate with any other computer attached to the Internet. We saw in Chapter 1 that every computer sold for the last decade has the horsepower necessary to turn voice into digital data streams. Put those two facts together and you get a revolutionary jump in communications technology: any computer can send and receive voice streams to any other computer across the Internet.

Peer-to-peer just means that two devices connect directly to each other without a server managing the transaction (and that's ignoring all the routers and other Internet servers handling data traffic). When you physically talk to a person in the same room, it's peer-to-peer. When you mail that person a letter, the Post Office acts as a server in the middle, so it's not peer-to-peer. When you call that person on the phone, the telephone company and central office switches get in the middle, so it's not peer-to-peer.


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