What is VOIP?
VoIP, or Voice over Internet Protocol, is an innovative, cost-effective way to communicate with customers, clients, and coworkers. This method of communication allows users to place calls and receive calls over their internet connection rather than conventional phone lines. From a user’s perspective, calls are placed and received as they normally would be. “But if calls are the same,” you may ask, “how is it different than my current phone plan?” What makes VoIP different from your phone plan is that it’s a cheaper, more reliable service and offers access to advanced features to help you improve efficiencies and performance.
Even though VoIP seems like a new concept, you probably already have VoIP installed on your cell phone; in fact, you may have even used it! Apple’s FaceTime is considered to be a VoIP service since you are using an internet connection to transmit and receive audio and video. Continue reading our article and we will answer all of your VoIP-related questions and actually tell you why VoIP is better than traditional phone plans and how much you can save by switching.
How Does VoIP Work?
Essentially, VoIP allows you to cut cords with your phone company and instead communicate using an internet connection. By using the internet, your voice is transmitted through digital data packets instead of an analog electric signal. This not only makes your voice more accurate and clear, but it also eliminates the need for traditional phone lines.
Despite VoIP eliminating the need for conventional phone service, it is still, by all means, a phone. Though it is commonly referred to as Voice over IP, this service also goes by names like Internet telephony, cloud-based telephony, hosted telephony, broadband telephony, and broadband phone service.
In order to use this technology, you need access through a VoIP service or application to facilitate the calls for you. In layman’s terms, this is how VoIP works:
- Your device (computer, mobile device, internet phone) connects to an internet connection.
- When you dial a phone number, your device tells the VoIP service provider to call the other party. When somebody tries to call you, their signals reach the service provider who then notifies you of a phone call.
- The service provider then initiates the call and converts your voice into digital signals to send to the other party.
- When the person on the other end speaks, their voice is converted into a digital signal which your device will turn into sounds that you can hear.
With the power of Voice over Internet Protocol, you can make and take calls from an internet-connected phone, computer, or mobile device. What’s more, is that your VoIP phone number can work across multiple devices so you can be reached no matter where you are!
What is VoIP Used For?
VoIP is used for businesses looking for an affordable, personalized, and productive solution to traditional phone systems. With the power of Voice over IP, you can place calls normally all while saving money and increasing the level of communication between your employees and your customers. As the go-to communications solution, users can be reached by the same office phone number wherever they go using their mobile device, laptop, or tablet.
VoIP is the perfect solution for remote work since you will always be reached by the same number. In addition to keeping the same number, there are various other features and capabilities included with Voice over IP that you can use to transform the way you do business. Some of these features include voicemail to email, caller ID by customer, virtual receptionists, and even plugins for your CRM (including Salesforce).
What Kind of Equipment Do I Need?
Back when Voice over IP first started, you used to need expensive equipment, but not anymore! The only equipment you need is a computer, cell phone, tablet, or a business phone that can connect to the internet, and of course, an internet connection. At Offix, we offer a VoIP Buyback Program to help businesses like yours trade in their old phones for state-of-the-art internet business phones. Click here to learn more.
Pros and Cons of VoIP
With any business service or solution, there are advantages and disadvantages. However in this case, the benefits heavily outweigh any of the drawbacks you may come across.
There are many benefits a Voice over IP system can provide for your business, we’ve listed some below.
- Cost – VoIP is an economical choice over traditional phone lines because it allows you to take advantage of the internet service you are already using. So instead of paying for two separate utility services (phone and internet), you would only need to pay for internet. As a result, many consumers and businesses have already decreased their phone bills by 30-60% just from switching!
- Quality/Reliability –When you pair VoIP with a reliable, stable internet connection, you won’t have to worry about calls dropping. What’s more, is that because it uses an internet connection, Voice over IP sounds much more clear and sharper than regular phones.
- Features – Your current phone system probably has one feature, and that’s connecting a phone call. With VoIP, you can use features such as virtual receptionists, voicemail to email, and many more at little to no extra cost!
- Flexibility –By using VoIP, you are able to send and receive calls from multiple devices. Because it’s cloud-based, you can integrate seemingly endless tools into your communications. You can even take your desk phone number on the go and be reached on your cell phone or even at home: the perfect solution for teleworking!
While disadvantages do exist for Voice over IP, as you read, you will find out they are minor and can easily be overcome.
- Speed – While VoIP is fast and reliable for many, those with satellite internet or a dial-up connection may experience delays or problems. However, less than 1% of residents of Virginia, Maryland, and Washington, D.C. still use dial-up or satellite internet. More than likely, you have a high-speed internet connection and can use Voice over IP with no speed issues!
- Contacting Emergency Services – Contacting emergency services with VoIP may not be as easy as you think. Many services may not connect to emergency services through the number 911. Additionally, when you do contact emergency services, you may actually have to provide them with your location; many Voice over IP locations default to your company’s main primary address. However, VoIP services like the one we offer at Offix include services like E911, allowing individuals to tie their geographic location to a building, residence, or mobile device, making it easy for emergency services to pinpoint the location of the call.
- Upgrading – While VoIP may be cheaper than conventional phone lines, you may need to pay extra for business phones that can connect to the internet. Don’t worry because upgrading your phones is optional; you can still connect to VoIP through mobile phones, tablets, and other internet-connected devices as long as you have a speaker and microphone.
Is VoIP Reliable?
When VoIP was first introduced to the workplace in the late ’90s, it was not as nearly as reliable as it is today. Dropped calls and delays were too common of an issue for the service to be used practically. However, the stigma for the service still exists in the 21st century despite its complete metamorphosis of efficiency. Since the development of high-speed internet, Voice over IP calls are made in HD quality and are clearer than any traditional phone connection.
Does It Affect Internet Speed?
Even though Voice over IP systems utilize an internet connection to complete a call, it actually will have very little impact on your internet bandwidth and speed. As a matter of fact, opening a single webpage uses six times more data than one minute of a VoIP call!
Will It Work if My Internet or Power is Down?
Even though VoIP systems have a 99.99% uptime, in the event that your power or internet is out, calls can be forwarded to your cell phone or to another location so that your incoming calls are never lost.
How Much Does it Cost?
Compared to its antiquated counterpart, the cost of VoIP is relatively low. Depending on the features and plan you go with, you can actually pay less than $30 per user per month for a Voice over IP system. In many cases, this price would even be less than what you would pay for your cell phone. When you compare the yearly costs of your current business phone system, the cost savings are immense. In fact, compared to your current phone plan VoIP allows you to utilize many more features while offering mobile and telework solutions, giving you more value from your phone system for less money.
Offix is the premier dealer for VoIP in Washington, D.C., Virginia, and Maryland. Get in touch with us today for a free VoIP demo or to learn how we can help your business save money and become more efficient.