VoIP What you need to know

As I was researching what IT (Informational Technology) services are all about, I came across VoIP services. And just like my journey of discovering what IT is actually all about, I started researching VoIP as I have no idea what it is all about and why it is important for me to know what it is about and why my business needs to invest in VoIP services. If you are anything like me and know absolutely nothing about VoIP or the IT industry, why won’t you join me in my investigation?

Just to recap on what IT is about, it is the study or use of systems (especially computers and telecommunications) for storing, retrieving, and sending information. It is simply about building communications networks for a company, safeguarding data and information, creating and administering databases, helping employees troubleshoot problems with their computers or mobile devices, or doing a range of other work to ensure the efficiency and security of business information. This is the sector in your business that deals with computing, this includes your hardware and software, telecommunications, and generally anything that involves the transmitting of information or the system that facilitates communications. VoIP comes in when we look at this communication process.

VoIP What it’s all about?

VoIP is the abbreviation for Voice Over Internet Protocol and is one of many IT services available. In more detail explained; the internet and broadband connections allow for versatile communications methods and VoIP is one of them. This IT service utilizes a business/person’s internet in place of a traditional telephone line, allowing the user to make and receive calls with their ISP. Modern VoIP phones also provide a variety of functions, like voice call and chat options.

Typically, VoIPs also require a service subscription instead of a traditional phone service. Simply explained, VoIP is a type of communication technology that allows you to make phone calls using an internet connection rather than a traditional analog phone line that uses wires or optical fibers to make a connection. VoIP is also known as internet calling or IP telephony. 

Advantages and disadvantages:

(According to ikervoip.com) VoIP phones are the scalable and efficient way to link your company phones, even across multiple locations. One of the benefits of VoIP is that it will save you money on all your costs. This is a great benefit, I mean, which business says no to saving money. But deciding to switch over from a landline to a VoIP phone system is not as simple as it sounds. Both offer unique benefits, which come with advantages and disadvantages. 

Kiely Kuligowski explains in her article ‘In the battle of VoIP vs. landline phone systems for your business, which one wins? That costs, internet connection, and reliability are key factors to consider when you make your decision on whether to switch over to VoIP from using a landline service. She says that even though VoIP offers great flexibility, landlines are known for reliability and consistent quality. She also argues that the phone system you use can be a make-or-break decision for your business, therefore I say, this is definitely something worth investigating more. For us to look in more detail into the advantages and disadvantages of VoIP, let’s find out first how VoIP works. 

How does VoIP work?

VoIP transmits through various methods, including traditional phones, smartphone apps, computer software, and specific VoIP- enabled phones. It works by breaking up your voice into digital packages as data to the recipient over the internet. VoIP is available in a variety of systems, making it accessible to anyone with a reliable internet connection. You can make VoIP calls via these methods: 

  • A phone and VoIP adapter – With an adapter, you can use a regular landline phone to make calls over the internet. The adapters plug into a phone outlet in the wall or directly into your router. This might be an option that will save your company money if you already have landlines installed and are thinking about switching over but don’t want to spend money on new smartphones. 
  • A computer (also known as a ‘softphone’) – There are many programs or applications available that will let you make voice calls over the internet, including Skype, Google Voice, and Facetime. When you do go with this option if your business is well equipped with computers, making sure there is good sound quality via your computer is important. 
  • A smartphone – With your smartphone, you can download apps, such as Google Voice or Skype, that allows you to make internet calls. Using a smartphone you mighty found is very user friendly and it does not restrict you to a certain area. Most employees have smartphones and know how to use smartphones. Smartphones are also not as expensive and something worth investing in if they will fulfill the needs of your business. 
  • A dedicated VoIP Phone – These look like traditional analog phones but connect directly to a computer network rather than a phone line, which will save you the landline installment fees. 

Now that you know a little better how VoIP works, you can make a better decision on which phone system will fulfill the needs of your business. 

More benefits include the following features:

  • Virtual Receptionist – a virtual assistant can fill many traditional functions of a receptionist through fully automated features. This includes answering phone calls, delivering recorded messages, and direct calls, and engaging in a number of other useful services. 
  • Automatic call forwarding – This is one of the most useful features. Essentially, this will automatically make calls to the VoIP line and redirect them to another line of your choosing. One common use for example is to redirect office calls to your cell phone while you are traveling or in the working field. Calls can also be forwarded to a receptionist during important meetings. This feature gives you more direct control over your own accessibility to others. 
  • 3-digit dialing – When in an emergency, you know the number to call. Only 3 digits and you get directed to help. You can program any numbers as you like and give them a unique 3-digit code that is easy to remember. 
  • Voicemail to email – This service transcribes voicemails into emails. This is not a typical voice-to-text service. Voicemail to email does not create a written text of the voicemail, instead, it creates an audio file and emails it to you. This makes it easier to respond to your messages, to save and/or share. You can even delete messages in your voicemail box from your email. 
To conclude, what are the advantages of VoIP, and is this something worth investing in?
  • Low costs – This is the main benefit of a VoIP system because calls take place over the internet, and you are only charged for internet fees rather than calls per minute. 
  • Connection anywhere – Many professionals need to be reachable anytime and anywhere. Wherever you are able to connect to the internet, you can make and receive calls.
  • Good sound quality– Sound is usually clearer than analog lines, but this also depends on your internet connection. 
  • Better functionality – VoIP solutions offer greater functions than landlines by allowing the users to host video calls and transmit multimedia messages. 
  • Modern technology – VoIP works through and is compatible with the newest technology. Any cutting-edge technology that uses your voice is going to work better with a VoIP system than a landline, 
  • Reliability – The digital nature of VoIP makes it extremely reliable communication. What makes it unreliable is if you struggle with a good internet connection as it is totally internet dependent. 

We can not make a decision based only on the benefits of VoIP, but we need to consider the disadvantages as well. In the case of VoIP, the biggest disadvantage is that VoIP is fully Internet dependent. Simply put, if you don’t have a reliable internet connection, you cannot consider VoIP as a reliable solution for your business’s communications. Also, VoIP systems do not guarantee to support emergency calls. This is largely due to the fact that VoIP is so flexible, any call from a traditional landline is easily traced to one geographic location, but VoIP (and mobile phones) can be used anywhere without being tied to one place. 

In the case of VoIP, you cannot just weigh the pros and cons and make your decision based on the one that weighs most. I would not consider VoIP if you do not have a reliable 24/7 internet connection, that will only result in frustration, conflict, and even drops your service, since you will not be able to serve your customers as you would like to. There is nothing so frustrating as struggling to have a successful phone call and if the call determines if your business will grow or not then I agree with Kiely Kuligowski that investing in VoIP can be a make-or-break decision for your business. 

If your business is situated in a first-world country where you have a reliable internet connection then I would strongly suggest you consider switching over to VoIP. The advantages are endless and are continually growing as technology develops on a daily basis. The sooner you switch over to VoIP the sooner you will be able to offer more trendy services and make life easier for yourself at the office.  

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