As we progress further into the Information Age, the world is getting more and more connected. More options for communication are popping up here and there, and while using instant messenger applications and emails are a “communications must” when running any business, nothing beats the efficiency of going on a voice call.
Of course, traditional voice call methods are available, but advancements have brought forth major updates in the telecommunications industry: VoIP technology.
What is VoIP?
VoIP stands for “Voice over Internet Protocol”, which means that VoIP phone calls are done over an internet connection instead of the traditional copper wires used on landline phones. Of course, “internet connection” could either mean via Ethernet cables or WIFI– if you can connect to the internet with it. This also means that VoIP can work on absolutely any modern computer. Another huge benefit of using VoIP is that unlike video conference apps like Zoom or Skype, you can also call any valid landline or cell phone number.
Surprisingly, VoIP is not actually a new technology, but with today’s faster broadband connections and cheaper phone hardware, VoIP has become a popular choice among businesses to go about their daily communications.
What is a VoIP Phone System and how does it work?
A VoIP phone system generally refers to your IP phone setup, but it can also be used to refer to the entire VoIP phone network. A phone that is enabled for VoIP can simply be plugged in, connect to the internet, and be ready for use!
VoIP phone system works relatively simply:
- The phone is connected to your router or switch via your Local Area Network (LAN).
- Upon dialing a phone number, your VoIP service provider is then notified that you’re calling the other party.
- Your service provider then establishes the call, triggering data packets to be sent from your phone over the internet.
- These packets are then translated into sound that the other party can hear on their end.
As you’ve seen above, VoIP service providers tend to route incoming and outgoing calls done on VoIP phone systems and are similar to the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) that routes landline and cellular phone calls.
Another similar phone service popular in businesses is called the Private Branch Exchange (PBX), which refers to a specialized type of hardware used for internal calls. These systems tend to be expensive to set up and maintain, however.
Top VoIP Phone System Features
Apart from the benefits already discussed above, switching to VoIP guarantees a couple of neat features, namely:
Unified Communications is exactly what you think it means– it is a unification of all types of communication into one. Communication platforms like instant messaging, video chat, conference calls, screen sharing, and team chat are all rolled into a single application. No need to call your clients via mobile phone, and then message them on WhatsApp, then start a conference on Zoom. With VoIP’s unified communication system, you only need one app to do the trick.
Auto attendants are basically those automated voices that present a menu of choices for you to dial. Such auto attendants are popular with phone banking and with large companies in order to route calls to their appropriate customer service agent or department. Calls can also be forwarded to voicemail this way.
With VoIP, it’s easy to set up your own concoction of routes and choices for the auto attendants to present to your callers.
Since calls are now online, you have more control over the soundbites you receive– especially since they are all high quality with minimal loss (although this guarantee requires a high-speed connection).
With high-definition calls, call clarity is amplified twice as much as landline calls, and the volume picked up from either side of the call can be tweaked so that nothing is missed. Some VoIP phones and handsets even come with noise-cancellation for higher quality calls.
Desktop and Mobile Applications
Finally, VoIP systems come with desktop and mobile applications, so even when you’re on the go, you can still access your VoIP features and VoIP calls.
Pros and Cons of a VoIP Phone System
Of course, transitioning to a VoIP phone system from a traditional one will require some serious consideration. You must weigh the pros and cons of shifting systems. In line with this, here are a few points of comparison you must take note of before shifting business phone systems:
Pros of a VoIP Phone System
- Call anyone from all over the world– with lower international fees!
- Lower overall cost of up to 60% compared to traditional options.
- All the advanced VoIP features mentioned earlier are a huge plus for anyone looking to use VoIP for personal or business use.
- Setup is extremely easy– there’s no need for extra equipment when working remotely from home, either.
Cons of a VoIP Phone System
- Old phones can’t be used with a VoIP system– you need a VoIP-ready handset, modern cell phone, or a modern computer to use VoIP.
- VoIP phones can’t have their locations traced, which can be both a good and bad thing. This can be a bad thing for 911 calls, for example, as you’ll have to explicitly state your entire address in case of an emergency.
- A high-speed internet connection is a MUST. If you happen to live in an area with low internet speeds, perhaps you must reconsider shifting to VoIP.
Tips on What to Look for in a VoIP Service Provider
Once you’ve finally decided to shift your business phone service into VoIP, the next thing on your task list is to find a good VoIP service provider.
VoIP service providers act like routers for your calls, so it’s best to pick one you can trust. First and foremost, you have to determine what your company requires from a VoIP system– especially if calls are one of your company’s lifelines and if your company deals with a huge number of calls per day.
From this, you can find listings of service providers that can give you the type of service you need. Once you’re comparing service providers, it’s important to take note of the following vital qualities of a good service provider:
- Ability to give live support 24/7
- Redundant and multiple data centers
- Reliable with minimal downtime
- Compatible with your network
- Has worked with clients similar to you
At the end of the day, the services you receive for your office phone systems (or for personal use) will be up to you entirely, so make sure you know every detail of what you’re getting before you take the plunge and sign any contracts.