What Does Softphone Mean?

A softphone is an application that enables Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) via computing devices, including desktops, laptops, personal digital assistants (PDA) and services like Skype and Vonage. A softphone functions like a traditional phone and is used with a headset connected to a PC’s sound card.


Sometimes a softphone is designed to behave like a traditional phone and has a phone image, display panel, keypad and buttons for user interaction.

Techopedia Explains Softphone

Softphone endpoints must share a communication protocol and at least one audio codec, such as Session Initiation Protocol (SIP), which is standardized by the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF).

Skype and Google Talk apply proprietary protocols and Extensible Messaging and Presence Protocol (XMPP). Some softphones provide Asterisk’s open-source Inter-Asterisk Exchange protocol (IAX).

Softphones are used in many call centers or customer care centers, where combined phone and computer usage is required.


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Margaret Rouse

Margaret Rouse is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical, business audience. Over the past twenty years her explanations have appeared on TechTarget websites and she's been cited as an authority in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine and Discovery Magazine.Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages. If you have a suggestion for a new definition or how to improve a technical explanation, please email Margaret or contact her…