The 21st century may offer consumers a number of means for contacting a business, from live chat services and email to social media. However, phone calls still form the backbone of communication services. Voice over Internet Protocol (VOIP) leverages the growing connectivity of high-speed internet to provide telephone service that is compatible with traditional landline phones and mobile devices alike.
What is a VOIP System?
A VOIP system, or Voice Over Internet Protocol system, is simply a phone service deployed over the internet. VOIP networks transmit voice communications and video calls over IP networks to provide unified communications for personal and business applications alike. VOIP was traditionally deployed using IP services to connect with private branch exchanges, but more recently, the term is used almost interchangeably with IP telephony.
VOIP is possible because of various technologies and methodologies that deliver voice communications, such as simple incoming calls, over an Internet connection. This can occur on local area networks (LAN) or wide area networks (WAN), and only requires the user to have an endpoint device capable of receiving phone calls. This includes VOIP phones, softphone applications running on a PC with VOIP software, and mobile devices.
How does a VOIP Phone Work?
Call it IP telephony, internet telephony, or broadband internet phone service, but at the end of the day, VOIP is simply a technology set that allows individuals to make phone calls at anytime from anywhere using an internet-connected computer. VOIP works by converting the sound of someone’s voice into a digital signal that is transmitted using computer networks. When a user picks up the phone to make a call, the sound of their voice is packaged into digital data packets that are transmitted via the internet to a user on the other end.
What is an IP Address?
The term IP address stands for internet Protocol address. The latter part of this term refers to the unique number that is linked to individual online activity from a particular internet connection. One could think of an IP address like the return address on an envelope as it allows online activity to be traced back to its origin as a result of its unique number. An IP address is assigned to devices by the internet provider and computers follow built-in networking standards and rules (protocols) to connect to the internet so information and data can flow back and forth.
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How do VOIP Phones Work Compared to a Landline Phone?
Traditional landline voice services are limited by the connectivity of telephone lines. In order for an older analog phone to make a connection, whether it is across town or long distance, there must be a physical network of connections that ensure the sound of a voice can travel from point A to point B. These circuit-switched networks require a great deal of investment by service providers and end-users. Phone lines have to be run across the country and around the world, and each user must have a phone in hand for phone calls to be completed.
VOIP eliminates these hurdles by taking advantage of the broader reach of internet connectivity, while reducing costs. A business, for example, can have more than just one phone connected per internet connection to provide phone service for all employees within a single location. By contrast, a traditional line phone service would require running physical wires to each job site and individual workstation. The only thing VOIP requires is an internet connection for phone service to operate efficiently.
A VOIP phone can be hardware-based or software-based in nature. A hardware-based VOIP phone looks just like a traditional handset. It boasts similar features to the desk phone employees are already accustomed to using, such as speakerphone, caller ID display, and a touchpad. Additional features include voicemail, call conferencing, and call transfer. Another type of VOIP phone is known as a softphone. These devices use VOIP software to enable phone communications. This can be installed on a computer or mobile device and offers an interface much like a traditional phone handset.
What are the Advantages and Disadvantages of VOIP?
Like any technology, VOIP does have advantages and disadvantages for the end-user. However, it is worth noting that many of the disadvantages depend on the quality of individual services providers and their network communications systems. First and foremost, VOIP is often more affordable than traditional communications systems. There’s no need for multiple phone lines to be installed in a home or in a business, the service providers can offer phone service over the internet for a much lower price. A single internet connection to a location can provide connectivity for multiple phones.
There is also a cost savings from the lack of hardware investment. Business VOIP solutions enable companies to avoid the cost of buying, and eventually replacing, physical phones by using VOIP software to turn existing computers and mobile devices into softphones. VOIP also solves portability issues for a company while boosting flexibility and accessibility. For example, business call centers can quickly add phone systems and phone service for new users when call volume increases using softphones and dial back use when call volume falls.
From a portability and accessibility standpoint, business VOIP ensures that field and remote workers have access to the same high-quality phone service as those in the office. Using softphone technology, employees remained connected regardless of location. Lastly, VOIP solutions offer integration with other apps that build on basic phone services by providing communications options such as conference calling and video calls.
There are cons to be aware of when shopping for personal or business VOIP phone service. VOIP is power dependent because it uses the internet. With the wrong service provider, voice quality can be a concern, as can bandwidth. Some VOIP services compress the data packets that transmit voice signals from one user to the next. While this can free up internet bandwidth, it can also impact the quality of the calls. Additionally, some service providers don’t offer connectivity for emergency calls, such as 9-1-1 service.
However, solutions such as CompleteCloud Voice eliminate many of these disadvantages. For example, Avatara’s CompleteCloud Voice phone service eliminates static and service degradation to ensure superior call quality.
Does VOIP Slow Down Internet?
As with any other form of internet communication, the speed of the network connection determines whether or not VOIP will hinder internet performance. Users with slow speeds that experience slow load times for webpages may find that VOIP slows down internet performance further with its use, but that isn’t always the case. Broadband internet solutions present no issue for those switching to VOIP.
Users with a strong, fast broadband connection won’t notice any slowdowns in internet performance using VOIP. As a matter of fact, VOIP phone calls use up less bandwidth during a one-hour call than is used by an individual surfing the web for that same period of time. In general, VOIP phone calls also take up less bandwidth than downloading files.
How Much does a VOIP Phone System Cost?
A VOIP phone system can be incredibly affordable depending on the service provider. The individual needs of the business user will determine the full extent of costs, but in general, VOIP systems are much more affordable than traditional phone service. For starters, VOIP systems include all communications needs for a company in one service provider. Voice, mobile, and data packages are all included in a VOIP service, so there is not the same redundant cost structure that businesses face when working with multiple providers.
VOIP also saves money for businesses by reducing internal IT costs and support burdens, while also decreasing hardware and installation expenses. VOIP software can be installed on existing computers and mobile devices to get all employees connected to the business phone system quickly. There’s no immediate need to purchase hardware-based phones, and there’s no installation charge. The business already has an internet connection, so employees are ready to get on the phone and chatting in no time.
Because the VOIP service provider manages and maintains the network, there’s no need for internal IT staff to spend time working on phone systems and networks. Likewise, support for VOIP service can be handled by service providers, so internal IT staff don’t have to worry about incoming phone calls. At Avatara, we handle also manage our self hosted VOIP solution and handle all support issues as well. This allows users to make one call to get help with any computer, phone, or fax issues.
Just How Secure is a VOIP Line?
VOIP phone service can be as secure as you need it to be. Like any other web-based activity, VOIP should be encrypted and security protocols on the computers and mobile devices making phones calls will determine the overall security of VOIP services. Once again, working with a VOIP phone provider such as CompleteCloud Voice enhances the security of the telephone service in question.
What is a SIP Phone?
SIP phone refers to a Session Initiation Protocol phone. It uses communications protocols to integrate basic phone call capabilities with other internet communications such as web, email, and online chat over an IP network.
What Kind of Equipment do You Need?
One of the primary benefits of VOIP is the lack of equipment truly required for basic service. The only items required for phone service to work using VOIP are an internet connection and an internet-capable device. For businesses that already have a dedicated, robust network with computers or other web-enabled devices for each employee, switching to VOIP is as easy as ditching a current phone service provider and switching to a solution like CompleteCloud Voice. The option to purchase additional handsets and other services depends on the communication needs of the business, but even those purchases are more affordable than expanding and modernized traditional landline phone service.
Is VOIP Better than Traditional Phone Service?
The short answer to this question is a resounding yes. Traditional phone service often provides inferior voice quality and limited features at a much higher price. Larger businesses can suffer sticker shock when looking at the bill for traditional phone service too because supporting connectivity for multiple sites, remote workers, and field technicians can drive a bill through the roof.
VOIP phone service ensures calls with better voice quality, a greater array of features to support business activities, and flexible, scalable solutions that ensure every employee within the company is connected regardless of location. The only trick to leveraging the benefits of VOIP over traditional phone service is selecting the right provider with the best array of features and support.
What is the Best VOIP Service?
VOIP technology has grown immensely since its debut in 1995, and along with it, so has the number of service providers. CompleteCloud Voice from Avatara represents the best solution for VOIP services. CompleteCloud Voice eliminates phone bills, equipment expenditures, and other ongoing issues associated with phone calls over traditional networks. This VOIP service makes communication more effective, efficient, and affordable. Its unified communications bring together all the features businesses rely on for effectively making and receiving calls on a daily basis.
CompleteCloud Voice offers both basic and advanced call center functionality. Businesses can keep their existing local numbers when switching to VOIP from Avatara. Key features of CompleteCloud Voice included:
- Hosted PBX per customer
- Customizable admin and user portals
- Follow me
- Video calls
- Call parking
- Advanced call forwarding, waiting, and screening.
Now’s the time to switch to CompleteCloud and experience the best VOIP service available.