All You Need to Know About VoIP Phone Systems
With businesses moving to remote working setups, a VoIP business phone system is worth looking into. Do you know the difference between a public switched telephone network (PSTN), and VoIP phone systems? In this article, we break down the advantages and disadvantages for you, so that you can make an informed decision for the needs of your company.
What is a VoIP?
VoIP is a cloud-based telephone system that stands for Voice over Internet Protocol. It is sometimes referred to by different names: IP telephony, internet telephony, or internet calling. With the cloud-based setup, you can transmit voice calls directly over IP networks. All you need to communicate is an internet connection, and you are all set.
Since it means no landline setup and no phone bills, VoIP is becoming standard for many business communication systems. Anyone who wants a reliable means of communication that will last in the future of work should investigate a VoIP service provider.
Why VoIP is Better Than Traditional Phone Services?
Low Cost and Hassle-Free
There have been many recent advancements and improvements in top-level VoIPs, making them consistent and dependable. Businesses who avail of them benefit from lower call charges, and ease of communication across multiple levels.
VoIP allows you to easily move direct extensions to another geographical location, with the simple click of a mouse. There is a simple software download required, in order to set up the call-forwarding option. The current pandemic has shifted business operations tremendously, but those who utilize VoIP network systems are still able to function. So far, it has proved one of the best business investments for 2021.
VoIP phone systems also present another key attraction: flexibility. As any CEO knows, you aren’t just dealing with landlines or smartphones. Your communications sometimes gave to take into account fax machines, pop-up screen chats, or other interfaces for customer relationship management.
With VoIP options, you can go directly from an app to an easy dial pad. Each of your phones can be set up to take calls from various global locations with minimum rates or call charges.
How Does a VoIP Phone System Work?
Regular phone calls from a landline require a service provider such as a dedicated phone company. This is the traditional telephony infrastructure. For decades, the familiar phone lines crisscrossing highways represented the only way to place long-distance messages.
VoIP services, however, transmit calls somewhat differently. Your voice on one end of the line becomes converted into digital packets of data.
Next, they are handled by “codecs”, which are either hardware devices or software-based processes. These codecs compress your voice signals, encoding them as digital signals. Finally, those digital data packets are transmitted via IP. The speed with which those digital packets arrive at their intended destination is instant.
Technical VoIP Terms
The first time you update your business communications system, don’t be overwhelmed with the technical terms. Here’s a glossary to help you get started on understanding the jargon.
- Bandwidth In simple terms, bandwidth means how well a network can transmit data from one point to another during a set amount of time. Bandwidth is usually measured in 1000 bits per second (kbps). If you need to support more calls, choose a higher amount of bandwidth. If you go for lower bandwidth, your call quality may suffer.
- Codecs As mentioned before, Codecs are used to compress and package data. They can be both hardware devices or software-based processes.
- DSL You know traditional phone lines, but do you know what DSL stands for? It means, ‘Digital Subscriber Line’, and is simply the traditional phone technology that allows broadband connections to be transmitted through your landlines, or analog phones.
- IP What does the ‘IP’ in ‘VoIP’ stand for? It is a simple acronym, meaning, Internet Protocol. An IP has standard rules for providing and transmitting packets of data.
- IVR If you have ever called landline and heard a recorded voice instructing you to, “press one for English, two for another language…” then you are familiar with an IVR voice. The acronym stands for Interactive Voice Response and acts as an automatic attendant or digital secretary to give callers specific connection instructions. While some companies use professional voiceover artists or announcers to narrate their IVRs, some corporations still use an automated computerized voice for their IVR recordings.
- Softphone A softphone is what we call the software or apps used to make VoIP calls. Standard ‘softphones’ have an interface resembling a phone handset on your screen. If you are using a keyboard or touchpad, then you would punch numbers in on the digital phone handset image, the same way you might on a regular phone. The visuals of softphones simply make the experience easier for the users.
Cloud-based or Traditional Communication Systems?
Whatever you choose for your company depends on your specific needs. It also depends on your budget and allocation.
Cloud-based options often let users subscribe to the service for a monthly fee. You can cancel at any time, which makes the initial test period less risky. You simply download a mobile app and set up the software instantly. Any technical services are usually provided for and handled by the IT staff of your chosen provider.
The disadvantage to this, of course, is that you do not have complete control as you might with physical servers. However, keep in mind that more hardware may come with higher costs. Among these are maintenance costs, technical support, etc.
Whether you opt for cloud-based adoption or otherwise, remember the two types of VoIP setup currently available:
Phone Through Computer
Handle all of your telephone calls through your own existing office computers. Any of your computers may be used a VoIP phone’s software and softphones.
This second option simplifies things. IP phones are installed in your office, just like traditional desk phones. They are connected through an Ethernet connection and can be cordless as well. With VoIP phones, you can install the IVR audio, voicemail, and caller ID. Anyone listening in will not be able to tell the difference between a traditional landline, or a VoIP phone.
Switching to VoIP Phone Systems
If your company wants to advance with technology, then you should consider switching or upgrading your communications on all platforms and all levels. You only have more to benefit from when you make the switch.
If your employees can work in various locations around the globe, it is even more imperative that you choose standard systems for your telecoms. Make sure that how your clients interact with you is reliable, even in the changing face of modern industries.
Your first step should be to identify a trustworthy provider for your VoIP phone systems.
Next, decide whether to choose cloud-based or physical server setups. Then, choose either a VoIP phone system or software-based VoIP calls which use your existing office computers.
With so many VoIP systems out there, it can be hard to know which one is right for you. When on the market for the one that means your needs, consider the following:
- How much of your business will rely on the VoIP system?
- What is the nature of your business? Do you already rely on your current hardware and phones, and would a switch that utilizes these make more sense?
- What features do you require for your specific company needs?
Once you understand the ins and outs of VoIP systems, you can make wiser, more rational choices.
What Should You Consider When Choosing the Perfect VoIP Phone Providers?
Selecting the right VoIP can be confusing unless you know exactly what you need. Here is a list of things to consider when selecting your service provider:
Define Your Requirements
Always outline your goals and requirements before shopping around. You need to stay focused on exactly what will help you reach your business targets.
Consider 3rd Party Integrations
By integrating the VoIP system with your preferred CRM software, you may streamline your business processes better. If this is what you need, then choose a VoIP service provider which offers such options.
Always check on the security features of the VoIP provider in question. Do they offer multi-factor authentication and secure data access?
Look for 24/7 dedicated customer support, with a trusted history of meeting their clients’ needs.
Of course, once you have a shortlist of the VoIP providers who match your needs, compare their plans and pricing strategy. Also, don’t forget hidden charges. Some may require extra payments for installation or support. Before you purchase, as with any investment, find out about usage limits or cancelation fees, if any.
Top 10 VoIP Phone System for Small Business in 2021
Finally, here are some of the most popular VoIP phone providers for businesses, and how users rate them.
- RingCentral – Its many features make it a full-service VoIP for any company.
- Ooma – Companies that offer work-from-home options for their employees love this VoIP service.
- Nextiva – This one is popular with midsize businesses that need to function globally.
- Grasshopper – If you have a mobile business, consider this provider.
- 8×8 – Great for those on a budget who need minimum support and features
- Vonage – An ideal VoIP service for small businesses and entrepreneurs
- Verizon – Known for its reliability and great customer service included.
- GoToConnect – This service provider offers an array of attractive features
- Phone.com – If you are just getting started with VoIP and looking for cheap plans, consider this one.
- 1-VoIP – Flexibility and reliability have given them a good reputation amongst VoIP users.
Now that you know how VoIP works, you can make better decisions for your own VoIP phone systems. Always consider the VoIP advantages and disadvantages, before making the switch for your business. Get in touch with an expert! Talk to phone system advisors that will take time to learn your business ensuring that each recommendation fits your company’s interests.