VoIP Service Buyer Guide
VoIP phone technology has evolved greatly from its beginning days, but there is still much to consider and understand before replacing your traditional phone system.
Voice over Internet Protocol, or VoIP, is a telecommunications technology that has evolved greatly since its emergence. VoIP is operationally similar to a traditional phone system, except that VoIP uses the internet to make and receive calls, not a hard-line. The offerings of VoIP are unchanged from traditional phone systems; the features, accessories, and general feeling are all the same, and VoIP still offers traditional features while opening your business to other advanced options not available through traditional systems. A VoIP service is quickly becoming a viable solution for those looking to save on communication costs without sacrificing features or quality.
In its infancy, VoIP was plagued by a reputation for inconsistency and unreliability, leading many to perceive it as inferior to traditional phone systems. Dropped calls, limited call-quality, and a tendency to produce echoes on calls made VoIP systems seem like a last resort for most businesses. However, the early days of VoIP have passed, and with them have gone the issues of reliability and quality surrounding VoIP. Today, VoIP callers are usually unable to distinguish between calls made traditionally or those connected through the internet.
VoIP works much in the same way that cell phone technology does. VoIP transmits “packets” of data (your voice) over an internet connection to the phone of the user you’re hoping to reach. Calls do not need to be routed to a specific internet-connected phone, any phone can receive calls from VoIP phone systems. Though the process of making the call is changed, nothing else does: a call from or to a VoIP phone can be transmitted to any type of phone, just like a cell phone call.
The cost-effectiveness of VoIP has enabled the technology to boom in popularity in recent years. Traditional phone systems, based on grounded, geographic locations, permit the charging of long-distance rates and higher rates for calls made during ‘peak-hours’. The financial-appeal of VoIP technology is the lack of these charges, or really the inability for them to be levied on businesses, as VoIP lacks a geographic location to reference for international charges or long distance rates. Thus, businesses which place large volumes of international and domestic calls stand to save substantial revenue by switching to VoIP phone systems.
Importantly, these savings do not mean a sacrifice of features, so businesses can still enjoy features like call ID, voicemail, call forwarding, and certain features unique to internet phone systems like video conferencing.
This guide outlines the basics of installing a system for business VoIP or residential VoIP. It is critical you make sure your office can support the system with the proper hardware and a sufficient internet connection, and that you are aware of the features, costs, and potential limitations of installing the system. Most businesses who have installed VoIP technology have found that they save the greatest time and money by utilizing the features and internet phone system offers, which reinforces the fact that the more you know about a potential technology and what its capabilities are, the likelier you are to save money and benefit