What is an IP Phone and Who Should Get One Right Away?

November 13, 2021
What is an IP Phone system - featured image

Internet Protocol phone is a telephone that is used in conjunction with a voice over IP (VoIP) telephone system. The IP phone is a device that connects directly to the Internet and transforms voice into IP packets which are then converted voice when delivered to the recipient. 

The technology incorporates SIP signaling and is used in combination with an IP PBX in an organization or a hosted VoIP service to communicate with customers and employees. An IP phone may also be software that is installed on the user’s computer and used to make calls from there.

You may have seen IP phones in workplaces without knowing it. 

It is a kind of phone that resembles conventional office phones but uses a separate technology to power calls. 

Many businesses, particularly small ones, struggle with phone calls. In your effort to update your company’s phone system, you have probably come across IP phones. What are they, and how might they improve your communications?

This article will provide an in-depth discussion of IP telephony.

Ip Phone Definition

What is an IP Phone

IP phones are also known as VoIP phones can be simple software-based softphones or purpose-built hardware devices that appear much like an ordinary or cordless telephone. IP phones function by reading the analog speech signals generated by a person and converting them to digital voice signals.

How does it work?

Additionally, IP phones operate by intercepting telephone calls and passing them via an IP phone system, also known as a VoIP system, through a network cable, into the network, before being broadcast out and onto the internet.

The SIP (Session Initiation Protocol) protocol is used by IP phone systems to connect calls made from a desk phone, mobile app, or browser to the public switched telephone network (PSTN).

This new approach replaces the more familiar PBX system with call handling software, which directs incoming phone calls to the appropriate extension or device.

When wondering what a VoIP phone is, you may also be interested in learning about the other functions it offers. As a result of its inherent flexibility, VoIP may include a slew of features that would normally be associated with a conventional business phone system, like voicemail, automated answering services, call forwarding, ACD, and holding music, among other functions.

Some of the finest IP phones are powered by current smartphone operating systems like Android, which enables them to support sophisticated capabilities such as video conferencing, multi-user conversations, and contact and schedule management. These can also be used in conjunction with audio conferencing services to maximize the effectiveness of your discussions.

Cisco, Poly, Grandstream IP phones, Mitel, and many more such as Nextiva and RingCentral are just a few of the prominent names in the VoIP market. These firms have carved out a sizable portion of the IP phone industry by providing critical features such as fast dial buttons, graphical displays, and Bluetooth connectivity.

What are the benefits?

IP phone systems provide many advantages to companies of all sizes, but small and developing businesses stand to gain the most from the technology.

  • IP Phones Are Less Expensive

Most conventional phone lines are purchased in groups of 23. If your company has only a few workers or if you are just starting on your own, this is a non-starter for your firm. 

With a virtual IP phone system, your purchase and pay for the number of phone numbers you need at the time of purchase.  You can add more as your business grows.

You can also select a calling plan that meets your specific requirements. Have you been on the phone all day? Then you’ll want to search for a package that includes an infinite number of minutes. It may be more cost-effective to use a metered plan if you just need to make a few calls now and then.

Because everything takes place in the cloud, there are no maintenance or installation costs to worry about. When adding or deleting users, you will not need to buy, house, and maintain equipment, nor will you have to pay for technical assistance.

  • More Flexibility

It makes no difference whether you make and receive calls using an IP-enabled desk phone or a mobile application; your IP phone system doesn’t care where you are. You and your workers can work from almost any location where you can connect to the Internet without the need to purchase or install extra hardware.

Are you planning to hire a new employee or two? Great! With a few clicks, you may give them an extension off of your current phone number or generate new business numbers for them on demand at no additional cost.

  • Less Maintenance

When you have a copper wire landline, you have to deal with regular maintenance and updates to your phone system. Not only does this result in downtime for your company, but it also means you have to wait for a specialist to arrive.

An IP phone system eliminates the need for on-site maintenance. You conduct maintenance or updates to your phone system from anywhere in the world through the internet. As long as you divert your attention away from phone maintenance, business as usual will continue.

  • Easy Implementation

When you select a reputable supplier, you should find it simple to get started with your new VoIP phone system. For example:

  • Decide on your strategy. Your provider will work with you to design a package with a variety of calling and extra features to suit your requirements.
  • Choose a phone number for yourself. A large selection of local, toll-free, and personalized phone numbers from which you can choose are available.
  • Inform your service provider about your situation. Your chosen provider will only gather the information necessary to properly service your account.
  • Set up a payment plan.

That’s all there is to it! If you pick the correct provider, you can begin managing your account and making calls from your mobile app as soon as you download the software.

How does IP calling work?

VoIP services are well-known for their adaptability and ease of use. However, it takes a few moments to grasp how to work with the technology. If a company does not want to completely adapt to VoIP service, a hybrid system is possible.  

This alternative works well for companies that wish to retain their conventional phones. They can still use VoIP technology if they put adapters on their terminals.

Making a phone call is as simple as following the same procedures you have always used to make a phone call; no magic is involved. When you lift the handset (or use the speakerphone or a headset device), you will hear a dial tone. 

Then you dial the number you want to contact, and the phone will begin to ring. You are free to express yourself to your heart’s content.

No matter whether this is to a mobile phone, computer, landline phone, or another VoIP service, the system accepts it. It is possible that your call will be routed via the Internet and then switched to the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) at a point near to the destination if it is directed to a landline on the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN).


IP Phone Networks

IP Phone Networks?

The use of IP phone networks and IP phones together allows for the transmission and reception of digital communications. IP phone systems must have three components to function properly and transmit and receive IP voice digital signals. 

For an IP phone system to function, it must have both an IP phone (also known as a VoIP phone) and an IP PBX, also known as a VoIP private branch exchange. A Local Area Network (LAN) is used to link these systems to a VoIP service provider, which allows them to communicate with one another (LAN). 

The difference from conventional telephone systems is that IP Phone systems operate by sending telephone calls over the Internet, as opposed to traditional telephone systems that operate via circuit-switched telephony networks.

History –  What is an IP Phone?

IP phone systems were first introduced in 1995 by Alon Cohen.  VocalTec is the name of the business that invented the first IP phone, which was used by a wide range of individuals at the time. They function by sending voice data packets over the internet from one IP address to another. 

At the time, the setup was straightforward, consisting of one internet user contacting another and using a basic microphone and speaker connected to a laptop computer. In a very short time, this system began to develop further, eventually evolving into the system it is today.

Cohen developed VoIP technology but did not make it available to the general public until the following year. Early versions only included the ability to send and receive voicemails over the Internet.  This was later extended to include computer-to-telephone connections.

From 1996 to 1998, VocalTec focused on integrating Internet voicemail apps with their internet phone software and integrating their internet phone software with Microsoft NetMeeting software. 

In 1998, VocalTec introduced computer-to-telephone and phone-to-phone calling capabilities as part of their VoIP service. In the beginning, user adoption of VoIP was poor – just 1 percent – in part because users had to listen to ads before, during, and after their talks, which was inconvenient.

What is a wireless IP phone?

Wireless IP Phone Example
Image: Gigaset C530A GO

A wireless IP phone is a small, all-in-one cordless telephone that enables people to communicate with one another from anywhere in the globe through a high-speed internet protocol (IP) connection. 

PBX phone systems, audio/video conference bridges, data collaboration tools, and instant messaging servers will all be integrated smoothly into a single platform in the future of IP communications systems. 

As IP network installations continue to expand, customers are seeking new services, such as the integration of video streaming capabilities, that are both cost-effective and easy to implement.

What is a landline IP phone?

IP landline phones not only help you save money on your phone bills, but they also improve the quality of your calls. Unlike conventional landline phone conversations, the quality of calls made with these sets will be entirely dependent on the speed and reliability of your internet connection. 

These phones are becoming more popular among businesses because they operate efficiently and include cutting-edge capabilities. Additionally, the low cost of installation and maintenance for this landline set contributes to overall savings on utility costs.

What is the difference between a traditional phone and an IP phone?

All call-related functions of an IP phone are made accessible via internet services since IP phones are based on the Internet Protocol (IP). The VoIP handset (Voice over Internet Protocol) enables the transmission of voice messages from the caller to the receiver via the internet using a computer.

All internet services are delivered via Ethernet cables, which are linked to a router, which then creates a wireless network connection. Because IP phones operate via the internet protocol, they do not need the additional wiring required by an analog phone system. Furthermore, since it is wireless, IP phones provide users with the additional benefit of mobility.

Why would someone use a VoIP phone?

Many reasons exist for why you might want to switch from your current phone system to a VoIP phone system. The primary motivation for this is cost savings. If you opt to utilize a VoIP phone, you will save money by removing the need for telephone lines and call costs.

However, saving money isn’t the only advantage of using a VoIP phone system. Switching to VoIP phones is less expensive than continuing to use conventional analog phone services. 

If you compare VoIP phones pricing to the cost of installing copper or fiber-optic lines for conventional phone service, adding extra ethernet connections or enabling Voice over IP to utilize a Wi-Fi connection will save you a considerable amount of money on your first deployment. 

In addition to saving money by using VoIP, you can make lower-cost long-distance calls. VoIP network services from high-quality provider firms are now available all across the world, even in developing countries. When you have access to the internet, you can use a VoIP phone to communicate without incurring international long-distance fees.

Furthermore, you will discover that it is feasible to use your email account to log in to VoIP services while on the road. To communicate with team members and consumers, all you need is a headset or an IP phone. There is no need to search for a local phone number or SIM card while traveling abroad.

Can VoIP call normal phones?

To make a VoIP call, you need a suitable IP phone or VoIP calling app, which has been given an IP address (or, in some cases, a conventional number) that allows calls to be made from your network to a regular telephone or mobile phone. In comparison to landline phones, these provide high-definition (HD) phone calls.

It is simple to call over the internet while making a VoIP call, and it is also feasible to call over the internet when making a VoIP call on a landline. You just need an adapter that connects to either your phone socket in the wall or your router to make an international call on a landline when using a VoIP phone.

To make use of your landline phone, you would normally expect to have a physical connection to a phone line. However, with VoIP, you can continue to use your landline phone while avoiding the limitations, inconvenience, and expenses associated with traditional phone service.

VoIP does not need to operate from a specific telephone or device to be effective and to reap the most advantages of the technology’s features and functions.

All of the important characteristics, such as adaptability, flexibility, and cost-effectiveness, are right at your disposal. If you decide to upgrade to a more advanced handset or even a headset, you will get access to extra user-friendly features such as programmable buttons and call storage, as well as the ability to employ cordless technology.

Call quality is the most frequent concern with VoIP calls.  This factor is heavily influenced by the type of your internet connection. More and more service providers are moving to a broadband-by-default service choice that you can use with VoIP. These services are delivered via platforms that offer helpful, extra VoIP capabilities.

Caller identification, voicemail, call diversion, and anonymous call blocking are some of the capabilities available. The flexibility of the system, as well as the selection of devices that can be used with it, is critical for corporate VoIP users, especially for large organizations.


Advantages and Disadvantages of an IP phone

What are the advantages and disadvantages of an IP phone?

One of the advantages of this technology is that it does not require any kind of hardware for communication. No additional equipment or special connection is needed to make or receive phone calls via the internet, therefore there is no need to buy any equipment or make any unique connection. 

An IP phone system can be used for both private and commercial communication, making it a versatile tool. An IP phone system gives the user the ability to connect to the global network from any point along the network’s path.  This ability is not possible with traditional phone system configurations.

IP networks are dependable and safe.  All communications over them are reliable and secure as long as they are handled with caution. Since most IP phones start up automatically when connected to the Internet, they don’t need the purchase of any additional gear to operate properly.

One major disadvantage is that the finest IP phone brands available are only for business or personal conversations, which is not ideal. If you use an unprotected or prepaid cellular phone, the IP service will not offer you any security or privacy protection. 

If your spouse or children discover that you are communicating with them via this “hidden” or unprotected means, they may conclude that you are engaged in an illegal connection. As you might imagine, this would be unfortunate news for the person, as well as for his or her spouse and children.

To safeguard your sensitive and confidential conversations, you might want to purchase both a landline telephone and a mobile phone to use in combination with your IP phone system, if you want to be as secure as possible.

The fact that IP phones are not compatible with VoIP services such as Skype or Google Talk is another significant drawback of utilizing an IP phone. These IP-based services operate on protocols that are distinct from normal internet protocols, and as a result, they cannot be used successfully with an IP phone system. 

VoIP services are getting more popular as more people switch from landlines and instead rely on their mobile devices for communication purposes. As a result, to get access to these services, company owners will need to purchase a second line that will link to an IP-enabled server. 


Can IP phones be used at home?

Can IP phones be used at home?

It is not necessary to have a permanent location to use a VoIP phone system. With VoIP, you may make and receive calls via your internet connection rather than through conventional phone systems that need local infrastructure.  

This implies that you can physically transport a VoIP phone to any place where you can connect it to the internet and make and receive calls just as you would if you were in the office.

Your clients will not be aware of the change since your phone number is virtual in the cloud.  Your Caller ID appears the same on any identifying display allowing you to do business as usual even if you’re sitting at home in your shorts.

A proper setup is all that is required in addition to a reliable internet connection. Simply connect your VoIP Internet Phone Adapter to any accessible broadband connection and you will be able to use your VoIP phone from any location on the planet.

Further reading: How to Connect Phone to the Ethernet


IP Phone Systems - Key takeaways

Key Takeaways

Using a hosted voice service instead of IP phones is one option to consider. Currently, a plethora of IP webphone providers exist.  Most provide a hosted VoIP system that allows users to connect without having to buy IP phones themselves. 

Hosted voice service is simply another telephone system that is hosted on a web server and can be accessed via your IP-based mobile device, as opposed to a traditional telephone system. 

Consider the following examples: you can use your mobile phone to make a call to any IP-enabled phone system in the globe, and you can also log into the server and make a call from your laptop computer.

An IP phone system provides your business with the economic and long-term advantages it needs to continue to expand. The benefits of using an IP phone are many, including its simplicity of use, reduced maintenance requirements, and ever-improving capabilities.

Using an IP phone system eliminates a large portion of the on-site work needed to maintain a landed telephone system.

There is no need for you to wait for a professional to arrive at the program a new extension, install updates, or conduct a maintenance check on your gear since all of these tasks are performed remotely.

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