VoIP (Voice over IP) allows you to make telephone calls over the internet without using a traditional telephone handset or network connection. The VoIP technology enables voice calls to be placed directly through your computer and internet connection instead of through a telephone network. This new technology means that international communication costs are far less expensive than conventional telephone call service. Many small to medium-sized business owners report cost saving up to 70 percent after switching from traditional telephone service to VoIP alone. These savings are not just an expense to businesses though; they are a money-saver for households, as well.
In addition to lowering international communication costs, switching from traditional telephone systems to VoIP is also expected to cut down on the number of redundant lines and connections that would otherwise be required. Routine maintenance checks of VoIP equipment like telephones and modems can eliminate the need for these expensive communications lines. The elimination of these redundant connections reduces overhead associated with communications and improves communication efficiency. This also makes it easier to troubleshoot problems with telecommunications equipment that may have become outdated or misaligned during routine maintenance checks.
Another advantage of VoIP compared to older analog phone systems is the implementation of IP telephony.
IP telephony utilizes voice signals transmitted digitally over an internet connection, instead of over traditional copper lines. With digital transmissions, users are able to send voice data over long distances at higher speeds than ever before. The result is that IP telephony offers much greater bandwidth capacity than older analog phone systems could ever provide, enabling users to send voice and data traffic at higher efficiencies than ever before.
There are two types of VoIP service offerings available to business owners today.
Hosted PBX and hosted VoIP are both reliable options that allow businesses to enjoy all of the benefits of VoIP, while saving money on their telecommunications costs. Hosted PBX services are usually provided by third-party organizations that rent out a portion of their bandwidth and network to businesses. The service provider provides the analog telephone service, the ability to connect to the internet and the ability to configure and view VoIP logs. Hosted PBX services tend to offer better bandwidth capacity and more features than unhosted counterparts, though they are not always as consistent or reliable.
A second popular VoIP option is sip trunks. SIP trunks allow multiple calls to occur within the same secured connection, thereby enabling business-class features such as video conferencing to take place. Unlike standard analog phones, where one call could take up as much bandwidth as several, hosted VoIP solutions utilize a flexible allocation of bandwidth to minimize utilization. The result is that when one business calls another using VoIP, each call does not use up as much bandwidth, and therefore the total cost for voice calls is lower. SIP trunking is usually provided by a hosted VoIP provider, although some SIP Trunking solutions may also be available for purchase.
A third popular type of VoIP service is vCD. Virtual cell phone systems or vCD as it is often referred to provide a flexible means of connecting callers to different numbers in a variety of ways. Instead of being tied to a specific PBX number, customers can use a virtual number that can be accessed just as easily as a traditional phone number. To make a call, a user simply types in the number to which he wants to call, and in turn the VoIP company performs a reverse lookup to find a compatible match for the number. Businesses using vCD generally save on operational costs as well, since switching between virtual numbers is much more cost efficient than making long distance calls using traditional or analog telephone systems.
Another option often used by small businesses is the call waiting service (sometimes called auto attendant). With this type of VoIP service, the client maintains a list of their favorite numbers, and when a call comes in, it will connect the caller id to the appropriate number on the vendor’s server. Upon connecting the caller id to the correct number, the on-call person will not press the send key until the call is completed. In many cases, this type of service will connect the caller id to a pre-defined menu of options such as voice mail, caller ID, fax, etc., and automatically dial those options when a call comes in. This reduces the amount of time that a call agent must spend entering user information into a computer, and in some cases makes it possible for callers to completely skip the call waiting process.
- The final option is a so-called sip application server.
- Applications Servers allow organizations to integrate IP PBX hardware with existing business systems, allowing IP BX devices to inter communicate with the SIP trunk.
- Some of the most common sip application servers used today include Citrix Systems’ Business Solutions Platform (BSPS), Microsoft Business Server (MBS), and the commercial vendor Nortel.
- Although SIP trunking solutions do not directly integrate with any of these systems, the integration of these technologies provides businesses with a cost-efficient way to extend their existing telecommunication infrastructure.