What is VoIP and what are the benefits of using it for your company?
VoIP phones are increasingly used by businesses and individuals alike. VoIP, which stands for Voice over Internet Protocol, is a method that allows you to make telephone calls using your broadband Internet connection. A VoIP phone or broadband phone uses voice over internet protocol technology for placing and then transmitting phone calls over an IP network, including the Internet, rather than the conventional public switched telephone network. VoIP offers significant cost savings over traditional telephone services and is easy to use. The VoIP industry has seen tremendous growth over the past five years, driven primarily by increases in Internet availability and prices.
The basic principle of VoIP phones involves using digital compression algorithms to reduce the overhead associated with transmissions over networks. Compression reduces traffic between a client (computer) and server (router or network), thereby allowing many fewer packets of data to be transmitted simultaneously. There are four different ways to compress voice transmissions over IP networks: LZIP (lossless zigzag encoding), MPLS (Multi-Protocol Label Switching), BER (broadband over experimental technologies), and RTCP (ringtone converter). These methods work by instructing the receiver (phone) to send its data over a pre-determined path. In order to allow the user to listen to the phone, a device called a gateway must exist at the other end. This gateway is a specialized computer that routes and retains the data packets.
In addition to providing voice communication over IP networks,
VoIP phones can also provide access to email and web-conferencing capabilities. In order to set up VoIP phones, a client must acquire an IP address from the Internet service provider and configure settings such as language and country settings. Some companies offer “virtual” phone numbers that look and feel like regular phone numbers (and can even be forwarded to regular landlines). Some providers provide “unified” phone numbers, which work like a virtual extension of a normal residential number.
One feature inherent in all VoIP phones is caller ID. Caller ID allows the user to see who is calling, so that he/she can choose whether to answer the call or hang up. This is a very important feature for a business owner. Unlisted phone lines or no-call lists may be inconvenient to employees and potential customers. By allowing calls to be directed to voicemail or an alternate contact, an owner can ensure that his/her contact list remains up-to-date.
Another aspect of VoIP phones is that many allow two-way voice calls.
VoIP services use digitally-cords, also known as digital transcodes, instead of traditional telephone lines. A digital transcode allows a voice message to be sent simultaneously over a broadband Internet connection. A VoIP service also uses a dedicated circuit network rather than the traditional copper wiring system. Softphones, also known as third-party telephones or IP telephones, are a relatively new category of phone.
These types of phone use a high-speed Internet connection and offer many of the features offered by traditional analog phones. Some examples of a softphone include Skype, Vonage, and AT&T. Some VoIP phones use VoIP software, which is available for download from the company’s website. Softphones generally do not require a base line rental, making them great for small businesses.
One of the advantages of VoIP providers such as Vonage and Skype are the ability to make phone calls anywhere in the world at any time. With Skype, a person can make calls to a landline or cell number, and the calls are free. This allows people with poor signal reception to make phone calls around the clock.
- Softphones have the same features as traditional analogs, such as call waiting, caller ID, and auto attendant.
- They also provide the same features as business phones use, such as call forwarding and conference calling.
- However, they are available at much lower rates than traditional analog phones.
- VoIP providers usually charge about the same rates as home telephone service, which makes the low cost of VoIP phones a good option for most households.