What is VoIP Phone Service?

One of the primary requirements for any business is a reliable phone service. Today, many have chosen Voice over Internet Protocol, or VoIP business phones rather than traditional telephone systems. Its use is growing worldwide because of the huge savings, accessibility, flexibility, scalability, and reliability it provides.

Strategic VoIP Telephones

VoIP, also known as Internet Telephony, is basically a computer equipped with a phone. It uses broadband internet connections to make and receive calls and provides benefits that older, proprietary phone systems can’t match.

VoIP was developed to allow businesses to access voice communications from anywhere in the world using the Internet. Without it, long distance calls, and especially international calls, were extremely costly.

Using a VoIP telephone system provides many benefits and is one of the best choices you can make for your business. It answers all of the main communication needs any company requires and offers services and benefits that can’t be achieved when using traditional business phones.

How Does a VoIP Business Phone Look and Work?

VoIP phones aren’t that much different from the analog phones you’re using now – they look the same, typically have the same features, and are just as easy to use. Just like traditional phones, VoIP phones come with handsets, receivers, speaker locations, and button placements. They use the same style of keypad you use with landline phones and come with ten numbers, and corresponding letters for alphanumeric input.

As mentioned above, a VoIP telephone system utilizes Internet Protocol to make calls. Instead of using telephone lines, voice data is turned into packets and sent over the IP network. This could be your Internet connection, a direct IP connection to your telephone service provider, or a combination of the two.

Switching to a VoIP business phone system doesn’t require you or your employees to re-learn the way you make and receive calls.

The following are the similarities between VoIP and regular business phones:

  • VoIP phones use the same keypad as other desk phones and have dedicated buttons for features such as call hold, call transfer, and caller ID.
  • They are outwardly similar in style and design to traditional business telephones.
  • The basic set up of handsets, receivers, speakers, and other physical features are the same for VoIP and landline phones.
  • You use a VoIP phone just like you do a traditional business phone.

If you’ve ever used a business phone, you won’t have trouble switching to a VoIP phone.

Technically, a VoIP phone works much differently than a traditional phone. It converts sound into digital voice communications and transfers them through Internet broadband.

When you use a VoIP telephone system, you are basically using the Internet to make phone calls. When it converts voice vibrations into compressed digital signals of Internet Protocol (IP) packets, these IP packets are transmitted and transformed into a regular telephone signal, so if the person on the other end has a telephone that’s not using VoIP, they can receive your call and speak with you. In essence, it allows you to make telephone calls from anywhere you have an internet connection to anyone who has a phone.

The following are some of the technical differences between VoIP and traditional business phones:

  • VoIP phones use the Internet to make calls and must be registered via an online service provider (just like your computers). Other business phones use copper wiring that’s separate from your Ethernet connection.
  • VoIP phones are tied to user accounts instead of phone numbers.
  • VoIP phones have twice the audio range of traditional phone calls and are capable of HD (high definition) voice.
  • VoIP phones can receive power from a PoE (Power over Ethernet) switch instead of a traditional power adapter.
  • VoIP phones technically place and receive calls differently than traditional business phones. Above, the buttons there’s a yellow rectangle representing toggle buttons. This toggle button lets you pick between current, incoming, and on-hold calls. You won’t find them on landline phones.
  • With traditional phones, each “line” corresponds to a separate phone number. You can switch between multiple calls among a traditional phone’s corresponding copper lines, and you switch between these calls with the line buttons. For example, if you have 6 lines for your business, that means your phone can take calls from 6 different phone numbers. With VoIP phones, there are no “lines” that are tied to a phone number. Instead, each ‘line” on a VoIP phone is tied to a Session Initiation Protocol or SIP address. This is an Internet Protocol used to initiate or terminate live communication sessions. A SIP address is much like an email address in that it serves as a locator for the user. They even look very similar to email addresses and are comprised of two parts: a username, and a domain.
  • Depending on the VoIP model, it can handle multiple user accounts simultaneously so that you can take calls from many accounts and phone numbers on your VoIP phone.
  • With VoIP, you’ll have more efficient use of bandwidth. 50% of traditional voice communications are pure silence. VoIP uses this space, so none of your bandwidth is wasted, and it’s used efficiently to provide capabilities that you don’t have with traditional phone service. VoIP removes any redundancy in speech patterns, so this also increases efficiency.

There are many of great benefits you can realize when switching to a VoIP business telephone system.

You’ll still have your favorite business-phone features with VoIP. All of the traditional call-system features your business needs are available from a VoIP business system, including:

  • Call transfers,
  • Call holds,
  • Call hunts,
  • Conference calling,
  • Find me/follow me,
  • Caller-ID,
  • Contact lists, and
  • Auto-attendant phone menus.

A VoIP Business Phone Offers Many Benefits Traditional Phones Don’t Provide.

VoIP Saves Money

Saving money is one of the most important reasons businesses switch to VoIP phone systems. Legacy business phone systems are expensive. The setup is intrusive, and reconfigurations require time and system changes. Plus, maintenance and repairs can be very expensive.

The initial setup and ongoing costs are typically less for a VoIP phone system than with traditional phone systems. Because it uses your internet connection, you don’t need to install phone lines.

Studies show that when compared to traditional business phones, VoIP saves up to 40 % on local calls, and up to 90 % on international calls.

With VoIP phones, you’ll not only save money on installation but the price per call. If you make international calls, you’ll save even more money. Any call you make from your VoIP service over the Internet to another computer is free. Providers typically allow all calls within the “lower 48” in the United States to be free. Calls from your VoIP phone system to a landline will cost something, but the rates are significantly less than when calling from a traditional business phone line.

When you place a call over a traditional phone, the line is taken up by both the caller and receiver. Because there are only so many lines that can be installed, calls placed over landlines, especially long-distance ones, are expensive. But with VoIP that uses the Internet to relay call data, this isn’t an issue. Both domestic and domestic long-distance calls are free with VoIP business phone.

You won’t have two separate bills for your VoIP phone system and internet service. It’s all rolled into one bill.

If you don’t use VoIP for voice communication, then you are most certainly using a Packet Switched Telephone Network (PSTN). With this, time is real money. You pay for each minute you spend on the phone, and international calls are much more expensive.

PSTN phone services have a selection of extra features for which you usually have to pay more. VoIP provides all of this for free along with extra features like call forwarding, call waiting, voicemail, caller ID, three-way calling and much more.

VoIP uses the Internet, so the only cost you incur each month is your internet bill. You won’t have a separate phone bill. You can make as many calls as you wish on VoIP and the connection cost will always be the same.

Your Business Will Benefit from Increased Mobility

If your employees travel or are on-the-road often, VoIP business phone services provide huge benefits. Your employees can make VoIP calls on their laptops, tablets, and smartphones wherever they have an internet connection.

With your old traditional phone system, phone lines that run to a home or business are assigned their own phone number. When your employees move around, their numbers change from their homes to the office, to their cells, etc. It can be a trial trying to remember the right number to call, and time can be wasted by having to contact phone companies to transfer services and phone numbers to new locations.

With VoIP, employees’ phone numbers follow them wherever they go.

VoIP phone systems let you and your employees use a convenient web portal to access the system at any time. This is great if you have employees in field offices or who travel a lot. Calls can be diverted to anywhere in the world through cloud-based VoIP phone system features. And your employees’ phone numbers always remain the same.

With a VoIP phone system, you won’t have to deal with hunting for a mobile number, field-office number, or hotel phone number because there aren’t any physical limitations when you or your employees move around. Your number always remains the same.

Accessibility and Flexibility Are Enhanced with VoIP

Distance, time and place make no difference when you use a VoIP business phone system. You can call your home office from the other side of the world as long as you have an internet connection. All you need is to sign into your internet/broadband account. Once you do, you’re immediately connected to your VoIP system, and communication is possible. And, you have all this with greater convenience and less cost than with traditional phone lines.

Voice quality won’t be affected as long as you have a reliable internet connection with good bandwidth. In fact, you’ll have a voice quality that is the equal to, if not better than, a traditional phone line connection.

Unlike with a PBX (Private Branch Exchange) service, a VoIP business phone system provides a great deal of flexibility. With PBX, you are limited to the number of phones you can add to the system, and by the number of lines within the system. With a VoIP network, you are limited only by bandwidth, so you can add thousands of connections if you want to.

VoIP business phones will also handle media types other than voice. With them, you can send images, video, and text along with voice. For example, you can talk with someone while sending files or relay a video image of yourself using a webcam.

With VoIP, you can have a great phone system without a huge capital investment.

VoIP Is Scalable, and Easy to Install and Maintain

VoIP phones are so easy to install that some businesses set them up without any assistance. You don’t need a lot of technical ability to do this. You won’t have to run phone lines from office to office, and there’s no VoIP hardware or software to install. You simply plug in your VoIP phones, and you’re ready to go.

You can’t always predict how many phones you’ll need over time, and if you run a seasonal business, like construction, you may end up spending money for phone lines you don’t need. You won’t have to worry about this with a VoIP business phone system. You can add a line as soon as you need to or remove it when you no longer need it. You’ll always have the right number of phone lines for your current situation.

And, adding and subtracting lines is inexpensive and easy. You can do this through the provider’s web portal where you move, add or change configurations. The features you find helpful can be added or others subtracted with ease.

A VoIP phone system can grow with your business or be scaled back in slow times.

You Can Use Your VoIP Phones with Other Business Systems.

Because VoIP calls are made over the Internet, they can be easily integrated with the software applications you use all the time. For example, you can make outbound calls with Outlook or other email clients. You can even bring up a record of customers’ inbound calls.

Even better–your voicemail is always accessible via email. This makes it really handy when you or your employees are traveling. You’ll have voicemail transcripts that you can read wherever you have email, and you can save them for future reference. The voicemail transcription feature converts voicemail messages into text and routes them automatically to your email account. No worries about taking notes from voicemail when you’re on the go.

Older technology like fax is supported as well. Virtual faxing (IP faxing) is another feature provided by VoIP business phone systems. Even though most of us rely more on email and instant messaging today, there are times where we need to fax a document or receive a faxed document. However, with IP faxing you won’t need a fax machine, toner or paper. You can receive faxes via the email account in your VoIP system.

The problems with traditional faxing are gone. You no longer have to worry about the high cost for long-distance faxes, poor quality from analog signals and incompatibility between communicating machines. Real-time, VoIP fax transmissions use a fax interface that converts the data into packets and ensures fast and reliable delivery.

Using VoIP Can Boost Productivity

With a VoIP phone system, you and your employees can multi-task with other tech-savvy devices to increase your productivity. For example, if you’re on hold waiting to speak with someone, instead of sitting idle, you can work on client calls you may have missed and read voicemail-to-text transcriptions that were sent to your email inbox.

You can easily forward messages and voicemail to others. If you receive a message that you think employees should have, you can forward this to their voicemail with the click of a mouse. There’s no need to transcribe the message into a long email message. With VoIP, the voice message will automatically be transcribed and sent to their email inboxes.

Some advanced features of VoIP that boost productivity are:

  • Remote management, where you can manage your VoIP phone system from anywhere via the web portal.
  • Interactive voice recognition (IVR) so you can take advantage of a spoken menu to direct you to the appropriate line.
  • Automatic call distribution where calls are automatically directed to the appropriate department.
  • Voicemail-to-email where voicemail is transcribed and sent to the appropriate email.
  • Bandwidth and call-duration reports.
  • Call conferencing, and more.

It’s Easy to Make Conference Calls with VoIP, and They’re Free

Because VoIP uses a data network instead of phone lines, making and participating in conference calls is so much easier. And, you don’t have to pay for additional services. These services come with most VoIP phone systems. Plus, with VoIP services, you can make video conference calls. Face-to-face calling with clients and colleagues is much easier with VoIP phone systems.

With VoIP, you can set up a conference with an entire team in real time. VoIP compresses data packets so more data can be handled by your carrier. The benefit of this is that more calls can be handled on one line.

With VoIP, your staff can access and exchange data files in real time while on conference calls. This provides for more productive and collaborative meetings. And you can seamlessly add people from multiple office locations throughout the world.

VoIP Calling is More Reliable

No more worrying about phone lines going down in a storm. You’ll always have calling capability wherever you have an internet connection. And if the Internet stops working, you can forward all your calls to another phone very easily. This means you won’t lose productivity because of local power outages or weather-related events. If you can’t use your VoIP office phone, you can forward calls to your mobile device or laptop. And, with an IP connection, there is a guaranteed quality of service (QoS) from your VoIP service provider. Just like the other features with a VoIP phone service, this makes for flexibility and reliability that most businesses need.

With VoIP, the network inefficiencies and complexities in traditional phone connections are eliminated, yielding a more integrated, efficient and flexible infrastructure that can support many types of communication. Because VoIP also requires less equipment management than traditional business phones they are more tolerant and reliable.

With VoIP, You Can Benefit from a More Efficient Client Interaction.

In today’s global economy, the clients you interact with can be from anywhere around the world. With a VoIP service, you can always conduct important calls with them at any time.

Some large enterprises like JPMorgan Chase use VoIP. Why? With a VoIP phone system, they decide where their calls ring and how. They might select the first few rings to be forwarded to their home office. If they aren’t answered, the call is automatically transmitted to a second or third device, like a mobile phone or laptop. This way, client calls aren’t missed and always answered, especially if they’re urgent.

Plus, important documents can always be forwarded using VoIP e-fax. Their clients no longer have to wait, and their issues are addressed immediately with VoIP.

Need Help Making the Switch to VoIP?

With all the advantages a VoIP business phone system provides, doesn’t it make sense to use it for your business? However, making the move to a VoIP business phone system isn’t always easy with all of the services and features to consider. It’s useful to have a knowledgeable advisor to help with this decision and the switch when you’re ready.

You don’t need to do this on your own, and you shouldn’t. Look for a qualified VoIP business phone provider in your area. This way, you’ll have all the information and assistance you need to ensure you’re taking advantage of the features and capabilities your business requires.

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