VoIP is a growing trend in networking and communications – people are talking about it and providers of business telephone systems are offering it as part of their services. But for a business to make an informed decision, they need to know what exactly VoIP is and whether it will bring advantages to the way they communicate.
What is VoIP?
VoIP stands for Voice Over Internet Protocol (IP). It is essentially a combination of two different systems: telephone networks and computer networks. You use the phone in a similar way to traditional communications, but instead of connecting to a telephone network, you connect to the internet. There tend to be two ways of using a VoIP system:
- Software systems
- VoIP services
Software systems use a piece of software on a computer (or another internet enabled device such as smart phone) to make calls. The most well known and common pieces of software is Skype. You can call other people using Skype (or another similar program) for free but to call people who aren’t using it you must pay, either on a pay-as-you-go model, or subscription model.
VoIP services however do not require a computer. They use Analog Telephone Adapters (ATA) which allow you to use a regular phone, but instead of connecting to the telephone network, they connect to the internet.
What are the benefits?
- Cheaper long distance calls. The pricing options of VoIP systems generally allow you to make long-distance calls as part of your package (this of course depends on what package you go for). This results in much cheaper costs when you need to make long-distance calls. For companies that are frequently making such calls, the benefits to your budget are immediately obvious.
- Great quality. Anyone that has used even a free service such as Skype are surprised by the quality. Many notice that it is often better quality than using a traditional phone. It does depend on your internet connection (very bad or slow connections may have issues), but when choosing a VoIP option quality should generally not be one of your concerns.
What are the disadvantages?
- The need for a broadband internet connection. Needless to say, a VoIP system requires that you have a broadband connection – and it needs to be reliable. If you lose your internet connection and you are relying on your VoIP service, you won’t be able to make any calls.
- The need for electrical power. ATA’s require a power supply to work; internet systems generally require a power supply too. If your power goes down, so will your ability to make calls. Normal telephones get their power from the telephone line itself allowing you to continue making phone calls.
You can make a compromise too – you can utilize both systems, VoIP and traditional phone systems to get a combinations of both benefits. For a modern, forward-thinking company, VoIP is well worth a look.
This article was brought to you by STL Communications. Learn more about VoIP on their website – as a UK VoIP provider they are experts in communication systems.