Also referred to as Internet phone or IP telephone, VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) allows users to make calls over the internet. In order to make a call, a phone is connected to a network cable, instead of a phone line, or a call is made over a computer, allowing you to bypass the use of phone lines. For business organizations, VoIP represents a versatile service with as decent or even better voice quality as regular phones. It also contributes to huge savings – you don't pay for phone usage, only internet data. In addition, VoIP software clients can conveniently double-up as powerful contact management tools.
Types of VoIP Systems
There are various different types of VoIP systems that can be implemented and utilized in your daily activity or your professional interactions. Listed below are just a few:
1. Software Solutions
The simplest form of VoIP is a software application that is mounted on your computer and enables you to make calls to other users of the application, typically for free. Skype is an example of such a service. When using Skype, you can call any one of the service's countless users for free – anywhere from your tablet, smartphone or any other device that has the ability to run the software.
Even though Skype and other comparable consumer VoIP applications are ideal for businesspersons and small start-ups, businesses that are looking for something more powerful should consider self-hosted and hosted VoIP solutions.
2. Self-Hosted VoIP
A self-hosted VoIP implies that you will need to manage the installation and call delivery yourself. This can be rather tricky unless you have special domain expertise in VoIP technology. Be ready to install a private branch network for directing calls within your system to different phones. You will also require a PSTN gateway to convert your voice (analog signals) to digital signals that are ready to be delivered over the network. Based on the complexity and scale of the VoIP system, you will also need regular maintenance.
Self-hosted VoIP systems are best suited for large businesses that have the resources and manpower to employ an in-house solution. Even though they are more costly, they can still end up costing considerably less compared to standard telephones. On the other hand, solo entrepreneurs, consultants, and freelancers can utilize software-based VoIP solutions.
3. Hosted VoIP
In case of a hosted VoIP service, a third-party provider manages the complete installation and call delivery enabling you to focus on what's actually important: your company. The service directs all relevant calls to your business and also ensures 100% uptime. Hosted VoIP solutions are more expensive as compared to self-hosted systems, but can significantly enhance overall productivity.
Examples of VoIP Phone Systems
1. Business Phone Systems
Cloud-based business phone systems offer a constant business presence allowing workers to stay connected whether they are on the run or in the office. Business Phone systems typically come with features such as instant messaging, CRM tools, video conferencing, and much more.
2. IP Phone Systems
IP phones make use of VoIP for setting up connections between two sets of users. One main advantage of IP phones is that you don't have to pay anything to make long distance phone calls. It packs features such as call recording, do not disturb, call pickup and much more.
3. Home Phone Systems
VoIP home phone systems power all your phones. It enables you to plug your current phone to the net and lets you stay connected with employees anywhere in the world. Key features include call routing, call forwarding, and many more.
Why Use VoIP?
- Cost savings The first thing you are sure to notice about using VOIP phone system is the substantial decline in your phone bill. With conventional systems, time is of the essence and you pay for every single minute spent on the phone. That means international calls can become extremely expensive. With VoIP however, you can talk as much as you like with one fixed rate.
- Flexible network layout VoIP business phone allows you unlimited flexibility once you set up the network, and can change whenever the need arises. That is not the case with traditional systems as changing and expanding them can cost you a lot.
- Accessibility A VoIP phone system is definitely better in terms of accessibility than a traditional phone system. Location or distance makes no difference to a VoIP system, whether you are calling your head office on the other side of the country or trying to connect with someone living on the other side of the world. As long as you have a good internet connection, communication is very much possible.
- Low cost VoIP can help businesses and individuals greatly economize on cost. This happens since there is only one single network carrying the data and voice offered by only one supplier. If you have a broadband internet connection (cable or DSL), you can make computer-to-computer phone calls anywhere in the world, free of charge. If you want to make a computer-to-phone connection, there is typically a fee for this, but is probably much more reasonable than your regular phone service.