Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) is a term that is coming more and more into prominence amongst businesses seeking a reliable, effective digital method of communications over and above traditional phone system. VoIP has changed the way that many businesses communicate.
It can be used as the sole means of making phone calls, or it can be installed alongside mobile phone and landline, offering enhanced connectivity, affordability and high quality standard voice calls.
So, what is VoIP?
Put simply, VoIP is a way of making and receiving voice calls, normally delivered via an existing broadband or similar internet connection, as opposed to the local phone exchange. The VoIP service provider establishes the call between the participants and maintains the digital means of communications.
To understand how does VoIP work and make VoIP calls, you need a high-speed internet connection that includes a router and modem, along with compatible desk phone or a VoIP calling app and an IP address to enable calls to be made from your network.
The technology behind VoIP is evolving rapidly, adding new phone features and enhancing cyber security and privacy to make the user experience even greater with each development. Businesses can connect to offices, clients, suppliers and audiences across the world clearly, immediately, and at an affordable rate.
How does a VoIP system work?
A VoIP phone system digitises analogue voice signals, sending them between the sender and receiver. You can call both phone landlines and mobile phone, as well as computer-to-computer using microphones and speakers or headsets to communicate.
Many VoIP providers also operate an App that you can install on a smart phone and use to simultaneously call the App, handset and/or headset remotely via a 3G or 4G connection.
Analogue signals are converted into digital signals and sent to the receiver via the internet in a similar way to digital data such as emails or online content.
Alternatively, the signals can travel via the phone itself if it is set up in the right way or via an ATA (Analogue Terminal Adapter) installed to perform this function within the system. All data is kept securely in business cloud-based information storage.
The VoIP system itself is controlled via a dashboard within the chosen control system or App, making the system and its products easy and secure to use. The dashboard buttons enable you to add contacts, forward calls and customise the standard delivery service to suit your individual business needs.
For a start, the system can offer significant cost savings, partly because you can use your internet service to make calls, thus doing away with the need for an additional, expensive landline phone system. You are doubtless already paying for broadband or other wireless provision, so the cost of running a VoIP service via your internet connection will have already been covered in your main internet bill.
Cut down on your phone bill
On a similar note, the versatility of the system can often enable users to commandeer any spare network capacity from their main internet provision and allocate it to VoIP. This means that, after initial installation costs, the service will not cost anything extra to operate. This can significantly cut down the phone bill for businesses, especially those that make a lot of international calls or rely on video conferencing apps like Skype to communicate globally.
VoIP provides extra functions
VoIP allows users to add or remove extra functions as required, meaning that you can set up the system just as you wish. Useful features include rerouting all incoming phone calls to your VoIP so that you can access them all in one place, rather than juggling multiple landlines and mobile phones. This is especially useful for remote or home workers, who can access the system from wherever they are, from multiple numbers.
No more bulky servers
Finally, businesses no longer need to physically accommodate bulky servers or operate complicated phone exchanges to communicate effectively – they just need desk phone extensions for each individual user that are compatible with VoIP technology.
This saves room, reduces reliance on technical support and allows people to be far more flexible when it comes to where and how they are working. Hosted, business cloud-based VoIP services also remove the need for in-house support resources, as the host company will normally provide access to the relevant products, expertise and advice.
Disadvantages of VoIP
Disadvantages to the system could include the cost, if you need to install everything from scratch, or are starting out in a building without any pre-existing connections or equipment. You must ensure that you have the appropriate internet connectivity, power source and telephony equipment.
This can represent a sizable investment if everything must be purchased at the same time. However, once the system is up and running, it can save money when compared to a more traditional phone service that’s connected to the local exchange.
VoIP relies on stable power source and high speed internet
The system also relies on a stable power source being available, and a high-speed internet connection. Issues such as power outrages or interruptions in internet provision will also affect VoIP performance. It is wise to maintain a mobile phone, or second system to compensate for any issues that occur beyond the control of the VoIP system. This enables you to keep running your business, and to access emergency help if required.
IP address and emergency callss
On the subject of emergency help, VoIP operates using an IP address, making it harder for emergency services operators to track you down geographically just from your call. You will need to supply the relevant information during your conversation with them to enable them to find you and deliver help.
Limited integration capabilities
Finally, other digital systems offer increased flexibility when it comes to linking other services, such as CCTV and other privacy, cyber security or surveillance systems, digital and other types of phone systems. The capacity to do this is currently much more limited with VoIP.
However, as already mentioned above, VoIP technology is advancing quickly, and it is well worth keeping an eye on its progress, and how new wireless functionality might be able to help you and your business in the future.
Broadband connection speed
VoIP requires reliable bandwidth to work properly and transmit the voice data in a specific amount of time. The higher your bandwidth is, the more data you can transfer via your broadband connection.
When choosing how much bandwidth to install, it is wise to start with how many VoIP phone calls you anticipate making, as well as how much internet and other phone call functionality your business requires.
The following chart offers some insight into how much bandwidth your organisation might require, according to how many concurrent calls you will make:
Number of concurrent calls
Minimum required bandwidth
100 Kbps Up and Down
3 MBps Up and Down
300 Kbps Up and Down
3 MBps Up and Down
500 Kbps Up and Down
5 MBps Up and Down
1 MBps Up and Down
5-10 MBps Up and Down
Why do businesses need VoIP?
Businesses of all shapes and sizes can benefit from installing VoIP phone systems for their employees to communicate clearly and effectively with customers. The system can help to reduce communications costs, improve productivity and encourage greater collaboration across different geographical locations.
Customer details, sales data and other valuable pieces of information can also be accessed instantly by anyone in the business who needs them, wherever they are working, whenever they need them.
Additionally, businesses can use VoIP capabilities to plan video conferencing, remote meetings and instant messaging, reducing the need for physical travel and offering greater flexibility in working practices.
Reduced reliance on mass meetings and physical contact can also have a knock-on effect on rental costs and utility bills by doing away with need for larger office areas to accommodate collaborative working. Choosing a cloud-based system also cuts out the requirement to employ on-site IT teams to plan and maintain the associated IT, as the hosting company usually provides this service as part of your overall VoIP package.
Let us set up your new VoIP phone system for your business
If your business is looking for expert support and insights around installing or running your new VoIP phone system, please get in touch with Cloud 4 Sure for details of our pricing and to find out how we can help you find the right solutions. Call us to book a no-obligation initial consultation, or contact us online.