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Although the term VoIP has become a staple of the business vernacular, there remains some confusion as to what this term references. Also, as a small to medium-sized business owner or decision maker, you most likely have some questions about how VoIP can directly impact and benefit your organization. Let’s dive deeper into the subject of VoIP and provide some answers to some top VoIP questions.

What VoIP is Talking About

Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) is a relatively recent technology that uses the Internet to move voice transmissions from one location to another, as opposed to a traditional phone line. The technology works by converting the spoken words into packets of voice data, which are then sent via a broadband Internet connection. Using a VoIP phone is no different than an ordinary, analog telephone. The only difference is behind the scenes: a VoIP phone is plugged into an ethernet connection (instead of a phone jack).

Questions and Answers

At this point you no doubt have some questions relating to VoIP technology, and whether this choice could be the right one for your company. Some of the top questions usually posed relating to VoIP include:

1. What is an IP phone?

An IP phone looks identical to a traditional telephone, but the difference is that it connects directly to the Internet without using an ATA device, which is what converts analog signals to digital signals. An IP phone works by being plugged directly into your router. Typically, businesses that use VoIP technology choose IP phones because of their features: buttons that allow calls to be transferred between users or placed on hold, and the phones feature multiple lines.

2.How does the quality (voice clarity) of VoIP compare to a traditional analog telephone?

Probably the first question that comes to mind is the quality — if it’s not better than the tried and true, what would be the point? The quality of VoIP, just as with any new technology, has incrementally improved since going mainstream; VoIP currently equals (but usually exceeds) the quality of a traditional analog landline. The main determining factor of voice clarity and quality is your Internet provider, since the service is as good as your Internet service.  

3. What is meant by Quality of Service (QoS), and why is this important with VoIP?

QoS is about how consistent and fast your Internet service is and how much bandwidth is dedicated for a specific application — it’s dictated by the quality of your router and the speed of your Internet Service Provider. It’s important to remember that VoIP is in real-time. Since VoIP runs over your Internet connection, it shares the bandwidth with other applications that are also online, such as peer-to-peer file sharing, streaming, or large data transmissions. If there are enough additional applications utilizing bandwidth, it can potentially interfere with your VoIP quality and clarity. QoS is critical in this respect, because the settings can ensure that there is sufficient bandwidth for VoIP calls.  

4. What functionality does a VoIP system allow that a traditional phone lacks?

Right off the bat, switching to VoIP can save your company a significant amount of money off of your telephone service. This is possible, because the one monthly fee paid typically covers several features like conference calling, caller ID, voicemail, and call waiting. Many times, a traditional phone service will charge you extra for these individual services. Also, the majority of VoIP providers give you unlimited calling to other VoIP subscribers with the same service; this allows essentially unlimited talk time with no additional fees.

5. Is a computer necessary to use VoIP?

No, a computer is not necessary to use VoIP. However, a broadband Internet connection must be present. Dial-up Internet services are not fast enough to support VoIP.

6. Can current phone numbers be kept when switching to VoIP?

In the vast majority of cases, the answer to this is yes — you can keep your current phone number or numbers.

Benefits of VoIP

As mentioned earlier, the cost savings from switching to VoIP are often significant. But cost alone is not the only benefit. Many VoIP systems and phones are equipped with user-friendly interfaces that allow for increased functionality, which can boost productivity and efficiency in the typical business setting. VoIP systems can essentially become part of your company’s network and can easily be managed to add users, change settings, and even gather metrics on usage. Finally, the flexibility that allows for the porting of phone numbers removes the geographic restrictions that have been imposed by telephone carriers in the past. VoIP presents legitimate and substantial advantages over traditional analog landlines. If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to us today!