What is Voice Over Internet Protocol? VoIP explained
Voice over internet protocol (VoIP) is a practice many organizations are implementing in order to improve the efficiency of their telecommunications. In the simplest terms, VoIP is making telephone calls via the internet, but how does it work, how do you install it, what does it require, and what benefits does it offer? Read on to find out.
How does VoIP work?
Business technology has made impressive strides over the past decade, and VoIP is one of the most widely-adopted innovations, especially among organizations looking to make their telephone system more flexible and cost efficient.
VoIP takes sound, such as voices or other analogue information - and transforms itinto packets of digital information, which can then be transferred over the internet. While converting a voice into a digital signal sounds complex, VoIP is easy to use.
With VoIP, you can make and receive calls from a desktop computer, laptop, tablet and smartphone, as well from an ordinary desk phone. This means you can access your business phone number from any location via your internal network, Wi-Fi, or mobile internet.
How do you install VoIP?
VoIP can be installed in two ways. The first is over-the-top (OTT), which is using a VoIP application via your existing internet connection, meaning your internet service provider (ISP) has no control, rights or responsibilities with regard to your VoIP service.
While OTT VoIP is cheap and takes little effort to deploy - at the most basic level you only need to download and install a VoIP application - it doesn’t have more advanced features and, depending on how intensively your business uses the internet, the call quality may suffer.
A hosted private branch exchange (PBX) is when a VoIP provider hosts your business’s PBX - the system that allows companies to share a number of external phone lines - and manages data access, which means that, as well as eliminating installation, operation and maintenance costs, it delivers superior call quality.
While some installation is required with hosted PBX in terms of setting up handsets in your premises, engineers supplied by the provider will take care of the more technical aspects from the provider’s end.
What are the requirements for VoIP?
By far the most important requirement for VoIP is a good internet connection, as the quality of calls made via VoIP can only ever be as good as the connection carrying them.
As mentioned previously, OTT VoIP can be used with an existing business internet connection, whether it’s DSL or cable internet. However to maintain good call quality, your internet connection will need to be capable of at least 10Mbps to be able to support VoIP, and 25Mbps to support HD video conferencing.
While OTT VoIP used with an existing business internet connection is cheaper, and can be effective, it can’t deliver the same level of call quality that hosted PBX in conjunction with a dedicated internet connection can.
That’s because, with VoIP, voice traffic uses a data connection, be it DSL, cable or dedicated internet, making the call quality is entirely dependent on the link between the telephone, microphone or headset and the VoIP provider.
So, while using OTT VoIP with DSL or cable internet is a cheaper solution which can be effective and can be effective, if your employees stream HD video or download particularly large files while you’re making a call, the quality of the call would deteriorate as more and more of your internet connection’s bandwidth is used.
However, this isn’t the case with hosted PBX, where data access is managed by the provider to ensure quality of voice, and if it is paired with dedicated internet, which guarantees your business consistent upload and download speeds 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, ruling out the possibility of any dip in quality due to reduced bandwidth at peak times.
Alternatively, a second DSL or cable internet connection installed specifically to carry voice traffic will ensure data traffic cannot impact on call quality.
What are the benefits of VoIP?
VoIP has plenty of benefits to offer businesses beyond being easy to set up and highly adaptable with regard to personnel changes, as previously mentioned.
Cost efficiency: For most businesses, this will be the most attractive asset. VoIP allows businesses to cut back on the cost of their telephone system as there are no expensive installation fees and call rates are lower. Businesses across the country have saved thousands of dollars by switching to VoIP, especially those that make a lot of overseas calls.
Convenience:The mobile nature of VoIP makes it convenient, and enables businesses to modernize their telecommunications. With VoIP, employees can make and take calls using their business number anywhere in the world. All that’s required is an internet connection, and in the digital age, internet access is increasingly prevalent.
Features: VoIP allows businesses to utilize a variety of tools and communication techniques that traditional telephone systems simply cannot offer. For example, with VoIP, anyone within your business can engage in a video conference no matter where they are. What’s more, VoIP doesn’t tread on the toes of older telecommunications technologies, it complements them, allowing you to call ordinary telephones, send faxes, leave answerphone messages and use speed dial.