One of the greatest inventions of the current digital business environment was remote voice communication using a telephone. The telephone redefined communication and as technology advances, more possibilities that enhance human civilization and modernization open up.
While the standard landline phone connection is still an ideal form of remote voice communication most businesses and corporations are switching to VoIP systems for more enhanced features and services. VoIP stands for Voice over Internet Protocol. It is also referred to as IP telephony, internet telephony, or internet calling.
VoIP represents a low cost and hassle-free telecoms solution that is customized as per the needs of the company. The VoIP phone system is a cost effective option as compared to the traditional business communications. This article will be expounding more on what you need to know about VoIP phone services, systems and infrastructure in a way that will make business owners and corporations make informed decisions.
What is VoIP Phone?
VoIP is an acronym for Voice over Internet Protocol and it refers to the technology that allows users to make and receive phone calls using the Internet in real time. The system allows users to make voice calls from a computer, smartphone, other mobile devices, special VoIP phones and WebRTC-enabled browsers.
While it delivers services that are similar to a regular telephone, VoIP phone service provides flexibility and mobility that is not possible with traditional telephony. By ensuring that voice messages can be transmitted over internet connection, it has made communication among remote teams easy regardless of the location.
The VoIP is a technology that has highly effective features that unify communications and that cannot be found on regular phone services. These include call recording, custom caller ID, or voicemail to e-mail aspect.
What is a VoIP Phone System?
The only way you can understand the difference between VoIP and landline connections is by understanding how the latter works. In a VoIP phone system, the internet is used to transfer calls from one end to another. During the process, the analog voice signal is encoded into digital data before being converted back to voice signals at the receiver’s end. This ensures high quality of sound and enhanced connectivity while limiting all the wiring processes and wall outlets that are necessary with landlines.
VoIP phones come in all shapes and sizes. While any VoIP phone service is recommended over the regular telephone, there are some functional differences you should know. Essentially, there are two basic types of VoIP phones. These are:
Hard phones are like hardware in definition and structure when it comes to comparison. They resemble regular phones and have the same features that include call muting and number redialing. The type of VoIP is designed to look like the traditional telephones that we are more familiar with although they use IP networks.
Essentially, they resemble mini-computers with features that blend with VoIP systems, unlike the traditional phone. They are characterized by an integrated display and an operating system with features that make video calls using a built-in camera other possible features.
Softphones are essentially software that can run on any computing device that is compatible with all the necessary hardware available. This means that the hardware and software, like PC with microphone and speakers, work together to send and receive VoIP calls.
For a softphone to work, it needs electronic devices and appliances which are considered as hardware. While these programs can be customized to your needs, a good example of a softphone is skype.
The biggest advantage of using softphones is their cost-effective aspect. This is because no physical hardware is needed other than the computing platforms that already exist in workspaces. The only thing you may need to invest in is a pair of reliable headsets. The biggest expenses of softphones are acquired through licensing and service costs although most of them are free to some extent.
Hard Phones versus Softphones
|Description||A physical, dedicated device that resembles old-school telephones but works through voice-over IP (VoIP) instead of a phone line.||They are installed as software and are used to send voice communications using IP by turning the computing device into a VoIP phone.|
|The Quality of the Call||The quality is better because the device is specifically designed for call communication.||The quality is subject to the shared system resources.|
|Interface||Varies. Generally has physical buttons such as a familiar dial pad, but some models have touchscreens with a full GUI.||Software-based with GUI elements for all features, though these may work with keyboard and mouse shortcuts.|
|Overall Features||While it is hard to customize, the cost increases with extra features provided.||It is easily customizable for more relevant features at a pocket-friendly fee.|
|Dependability||It is always on with little downtime which makes it highly dependable.||It is affected by pc reboot as well as the functionality of other systems.|
|Ease of Use||If you are familiar with traditional phones, hard phones are easy to use.||It has a larger learning curve especially for those who are green with software.|
|Mobility||It is meant to sit on the desk which makes its mobility zero.||It is mobile given that it can be installed on different devices.|
|Deployment||The use of physical hardware makes hard phones slow to deploy.||It is quick and easy to deploy and maintain given that simultaneous tasks can be performed remotely.|
|Cost||More expensive given the cost of setting up new hardware.||The pricing is less expensive as it is determined by licensing and service fees.|
What is a VoIP Infrastructure?
VoIP infrastructure entails everything that makes the possibility of communicating with anyone in the world by transmitting voice over the internet a reality. It includes the connection, bandwidth, software, and hardware. This technology, which is slowly penetrating the corporate world, has replaced the traditional phone services that seem outdated in terms of functionality and cost.
The best part about VoIP infrastructure is that the technical components and equipment can be customized to suit a particular setup and their needs and goals. While the common goal among businesses is effective and quality communications, a VoIP infrastructure will only be effective if it’s reliable and offers quality services.
Below are some of the things you should consider for a VoIP structure:
- Reliability and Uptime
- Notification and Troubleshooting
- Call Quality Framework
- Response and Restoration
- Security and Compliance
To optimize a VoIP infrastructure, keep the phone equipment, internal connections, and onsite-offsite networks in check. Alongside these, during calls, ensure that the bandwidth is enough to support the software application in use and that standardized security frameworks are in place.
Tips for Effective VoIP Planning
If you’re planning to install VoIP, take a few minutes to consider, not only VoIP’s benefits but also all the positive and negative ways VoIP will impact your business. Whether you’re getting a residential VoIP service or hosted VoIP for your business a little research, planning and knowledge can go a long way in ensuring informed decisions are made. While the process can be daunting, there are certain things you should not forget to research to achieve a successful migration:
Requirements for VoIP Implementation
While the high-speed broadband connection is a plus, you may be thrilled to know that VoIP doesn’t require a lot of bandwidth. However, stick to using at most 80% of the availed bandwidth to avoid network congestion that leads to poor phone call quality.
Low latency is all about quality and consistent connection. A reliable internet connection leads to successful VoIP implementations. If the data takes the shortest time to reach the internet, then that means the connection is at its peak; therefore, maintain it at that using ping and jittery.
Wired over Wi-Fi
Wi-Fi is okay, but the best option for connecting VoIP devices is through a wired or Ethernet connection. For freelancers and remote workers, avoid congested networks. If the VoIP system is for the office environment, invest in power over Ethernet switch as it delivers the data and power for VoIP phones over one wire.
This is what we call planning for the rainy and stormy days. Setting up a VoIP quality of service to the encounter optimizes voice traffic on the network which is useful for days when the traffic will be high.
How to Set Up a VoIP Phone System
More and more businesses are shifting to VoIP given the more affordable monthly bills and advanced features that make communication in the business environment reliable. While you are evading the high costs of hardware and setup, make sure you do it the right way. Planning is crucial, and so is getting the right equipment and service provider.
Outlined below is a list that can help you assess your current needs and what you need for an effective VoIP phone system setup:
- Consider the number of phones and the features they need.
- When it comes to Network Connectivity, how much bandwidth is enough?
- Establish the cost of Communication and all telephone services.
- Identify any porting issues and number of portability.
- Familiarize yourself with the Portal (Control Panel).
- Develop Training Materials.
- Run a test drive to discover any issues and find ways of fixing them and fix issues.
How to Select a VoIP Phone Service Provider
Before migrating from traditional telephone services to VoIP phone services, ensure you chose a reliable VoIP service provider. The perfect managed IT services provider should offer excellent customer service, favorable customer reviews, and reliable uptime. Flexibility is also important as it ensures that your needs are prioritized. You should also remember that cheap is expensive.
While picking the right VoIP provider is not always doesn’t have the how-to manual, the outlined guides below will be beneficial in ensuring you get it right:
- Know what kind of VoIP service you want as it will help you determine favorable customized packages and the budget. Some of the basic services include call waiting, caller ID, voice mail, 3-way calling while enhanced voicemail that allows you to check your messages on your phone, web, or email is one of the advanced features.
- With the list of desired features and budget, you can now search for VoIP phone service providers. Compare plans, budget, flexibility, and everything that aligns with your goal.
- Get to know your VoIP service provider by reading reviews about them. Extra attention should be paid to their service reliability, quality, and general customer service.
The service provider should work hand in hand with you to ensure you chose the right VoIP phone system and the necessary equipment. Depending on your needs, you might need more equipment.
Voice over Internet Protocol is becoming the new normal in the world of business because of its flexibility and mobility. While it may be difficult to get the ultimate services, go for the service provider that provides secure and reliable virtual phone service that also leverages flexibility, reliability, and customization of packages.
Some VoIP phone service providers offer a complete cloud communications platform. You just have to invest in your VoIP planning and research.