What is VOIP and does my business need it?
VoIP is short for Voice over Internet Protocol.
Voice over Internet Protocol is a category of hardware and software that enables people to use the Internet as the transmission medium for telephone calls by sending voice data in packets using IP rather than by traditional circuit transmissions of the PSTN.
Simplified, VOIP phone systems allow you to use your internet connection to call vs traditional phone lines. There are advantages and disadvantages to each, and we will go over those as we describe all of the options for business telephone systems.
The phone option that most medium to large businesses traditionally begin with is a Landline Phone. Landline phones and the infrastructure that supports them have been around for over a century. This system is tested and reliable as a result. When calling on a Landline Phone system for your business, audio data (your voice) is converted into signals that travel through telephone lines and then fiber optic cables to the person on the other line. In the case of HD phone audio, higher frequencies are used to produce a cleaner and clearer sound on the call.
Some pros of landline calls are that they are reliable. There is occasional downtime, but they are reliable, especially during power outages and emergencies compared to other options. Another benefit to landline phone systems is that only basic equipment is needed. You only need a telephone and cable to call via a landline. Landline plans tend to be very affordable and some can run as low as $10 monthly for home phone plans.
The downside of landline phones is that you need a dedicated telephone for that landline. Other calling options allow use of computer or cell phones for business calls. Landline phones are also the most costly for long distance or international calls as some plans do not include those options.
Most people in the US and the rest of the developed world use a cell phone regularly. According to TechTarget, “An ongoing trend towards fixed-mobile substitution, in which users cancel landline services and rely solely upon cellular phone service, has resulted in a sharp reduction in the numbers of landline subscribers.” This trend is easily recognized by most people in the United States, and many new businesses are started with no landline phone service. Now, people have the option of using apps to have more than one phone number on a single cell phone, increasing the options for new business owners.
In the most basic form, a cell phone is essentially a two-way radio, consisting of a radio transmitter and a radio receiver. When you call someone on your cell phone, your phone converts your voice into an electrical signal, which is then transmitted via radio waves to the nearest cell tower. The network of cell towers then relays the radio wave to your call recipient’s cell phone, which converts it to an electrical signal and then back to sound again.
Smartphones, expand upon that basic capability into internet connectivity, allowing many additional forms of communication on the single device, including data based calling similar to VOIP.
VOIP Phone Systems
VoIP calls work by transforming audio data into digital packet files and sending them over the internet. You can make a VoIP call via your computer or internet-connected mobile device. In recent years, internet call usage has increased dramatically, as many more people have broadband internet connections in their homes and offices than they did in years prior. VoIP calls can also be paired with video, increasing your business communication options.
Some upsides to VOIP systems are that VOIP is very low cost compared to cell and even some business landline options. VOIP phone are also easy to install and have plenty of features like conferencing, call waiting, caller ID, video calling, and plans usually allow for traditional phone and fax support in the transition to VOIP.
The downside is that you are dependent on your internet connection and power supply. Traditional phones only need power at the interchange office where calls are routed. VOIP phone systems require power for all devices and an active internet connection. Most uptime issues with VOIP phones are the result of loss of power or loss of connectivity. Additionally, your address associated with the phone line is input at setup. If you call 911 from a VOIP system, that address is what is transmitted. This can cause some confusion and requires clarity during emergency situations.
If you’ve got questions about Voice Over Internet Protocol phone systems and if they are right for you, give us a call!