The benefits of VoIP over traditional phone systems are extensive. Virtually every business stands to greatly benefit by implementing this sophisticated communications technology. As such, we've compiled some of the most important advantages of VoIP into this clear, concise, and easy-to-consume list.
Now that so many people are working from home, keeping your business' voice communications organized and centralized can be tricky. Fortunately, that's where cloud-served voice over IP (VoIP) providers can shine. With cloud VoIP (sometimes called a cloud PBX system), you can move direct extensions to new geographical locations simply by clicking a mouse. Devices can also change with similar ease either with a software download or simply by re-configuring call forwarding. With many of these systems also adding a wide variety of team collaboration features, cloud VoIP is probably the best investment a business can make.
Still the pandemic won't last forever, so keeping in mind core VoIP criteria is important, too. That means providing voice communications for employees at their desks. VoIP systems may also need to support a call centre for sales, customer service, and support; and they often need to connect with and through a host of other communications channels, such as fax machines, video conferencing, conference calling, mobile communications, wireless handsets, and text messaging. On top of that, they're often expected to provide more advanced functionality through software, like shared meeting collaboration, voicemail to email transcription, and call recording. And lest we forget, many businesses still need a service that will connect to the public switched telephone network (PSTN).
Because they're working across such a multitude of channels, many of today's phone systems are adopting the moniker of Unified Communications-as-a-Service (UCaaS). These are generally cloud-based, virtual PBXes (private branch exchanges) that include at least one, usually multiple, software clients, to enhance their functionality on the web, desktop, and a variety of mobile devices. UCaaS systems have a wide variety of feature sets based on the tried and true VoIP. Even residential VoIP systems come with features that are simply impossible using a conventional telephone system.
A key attraction of VoIP is that it gives these systems the flexibility to work in a wide variety of environments ranging from analog desk phones to softphones piggy-backing on a cell phone. These systems can often also integrate all or part of their softphone clients into other back-office applications, like your customer relationship management (CRM) or help desk platforms. Simply picture the standard interface of such an app that suddenly sports a dial pad and some function buttons as a pop-up screen, and you'll have a very basic idea of how some of this works. In addition, these cloud-based systems can have a variety of phone numbers in global locations, so that your customers can have free access to your phone at little or no charge.
Understanding VoIP Basics
While understanding the basics of VoIP and SIP is important, setting one of these systems up will require some general network knowledge, too. For the best quality, you will need to meet a minimum upstream and downstream data throughput requirement. In addition, you'll also need to meet a minimum latency number (that is, the time between when a signal leaves a remote computer and when your system receives it), typically measured in milliseconds. It is possible to test your network connection to see if it will support a VoIP service. Forum Group can offer this service. Other vendors like to have their service engineers do it for you.
While home VoIP systems are fairly straightforward to set up and use, a VoIP system for all but the smallest of businesses can be quite complex, and In addition, to have multiple users, business VoIP systems have complex feature sets that are necessary to conduct business in today's world. In addition, a business VoIP implementation must take into account the existence of the data network, even though in most cases, it won't share the same infrastructure. This will mean switches and routers optimized for voice traffic and security that's suitable for both business and VoIP.
Beginning Your Selection Process
Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) is a type of technology that allows its users to make calls using the broadband Internet rather than the conventional or analog phone system. VoIP works by converting sound into digital voice communication and then transferring it through Internet broadband. So if you are using a VoIP telephone system, you are using the Internet to make phone calls. Using a VoIP system has several benefits for many businesses.
Before you can start considering a phone system, you need to figure out what it's going to be used for, and how much of your business will be involved. You need to look at your existing phone system and decide whether you're going to simply keep all of it and bolt some VoIP functionality on top, retain only part of it, or replace the whole thing. Frequently, a total replacement isn't in the cards if only because some parts of your existing phone system can't be easily changed over to softphones or even desktop VoIP phones. For example, suppose you have a heavy manufacturing environment with outdoor activities, such as a steel fabrication yard or even a landscaping company. In that case, your old outdoor phones may be exactly what you need. You also need to decide what features of the existing phone system are required, and what features of a future phone system you feel are necessary to carry into the future.
When you're considering a new VoIP phone system for your business, it's important to include stakeholders from all of the key parts of your business in the planning and decision-making process. Yes, this especially includes the IT staff and the data security folks since your voice communications will now be data. But it also needs to include folks who will be using the system to get work done, especially the work that drives revenue and engages customers. These people have invaluable insights into what's really needed versus what's simply cool and new. Plus, you'll need their input to select a phone system that will actually move your business forward as well as fit into your IT environment.
A critical part of the discussion with your IT staff will be whether your existing data network can handle the extra load that will be placed on it by the new phone system. You'll need a network that can handle more advanced network management capabilities, including tools to fight jitter and latency as well as to provide Quality of Service (QoS) and different kinds of network segmentation, especially virtual LANs (VLANs). Only tools like these can help free up your network from too much congestion, which can cause your call quality to decrease or even crash the VoIP system entirely.
On the physical side, you'll also need to plan for providing Ethernet drops to any new desktop phones you'll be placing on user desks, or even adding capacity to your WiFi network should you decide to use wireless calling. For many organizations, a separate network often winds up being the preferred solution. If that's what happens in your case, you'll need a separate VoIP gateway. You'll also need security that understands voice protocols, and you'll need to have switches and routers that understand VoIP, too. By the time you've covered all those bases, a separate network is often the more effective solution rather than attempting to not only install but also integrate that much new equipment into an existing LAN.
12 Benefits of VoIP That Your Business Can't Ignore
Cost savings is one of the benefits of VoIP that virtually any business can appreciate. You can only install so many phone lines and costs quickly add up, especially if your business regularly makes long-distance calls.
With communication data being modified into data packets and sent over the IP network, the issue of a single phone line being able to be utilized by only two callers is eliminated. The IP network could be a direct IP connection to your phone service provider, or simply your existing internet connect (or a combination of both).
Traditional phone lines typically charge for each minute of call time, wherewith VoIP your only costs are your monthly charges from your ISP. In fact, many providers offer inexpensive or even free calling too, for example, the contiguous United States.
Cost-Effective Hardware and Software
One of the additional cost benefits of VoIP is the limited costs associated with hardware and software required to operate the system. Quality providers ensure their clients always have the most up-to-date software and provide current hardware. This eliminates the need for businesses to purchase their own phones and infrastructure, which can result in additional cost savings.
Without the need for dedicated phone lines, conferencing is simplified considerably. Traditional phone systems allow for conferencing, but you'll end up paying for an additional service and hosting multiple callers each time you need to conference.
With a converged data network, these features are typically native and the cost is built into the already lower price of the VoIP service that you're already paying for.
More Than Just Voice Calls
An additional benefit of VoIP is that it makes video conferencing far simpler as well. In fact, you can transfer various media formats (images, video, text) during your phone or video calls to dramatically improve your ability to conduct presentations or solve issues on the fly.
More employers are discovering the benefits of having their staff work from home in exchange for smaller office spaces, decreased utility costs, etc.
What they're also discovering are the benefits of VoIP that allow their employees to telecommute so effectively. VoIP allows employees to remotely utilize the voice, fax, and data services of your office via your intranet.
VoIP technology has become extremely portable, allowing users to connect from home offices and abroad. What's more, is that your employee's number follows them to their new home office when they make the change.
Mobility of Your Service
While telecommuting is one thing, one of the lesser mentioned benefits of VoIP is that the entire service is highly mobile. Whereas traditional phone systems require a unique number to be assigned to each line and transferring those numbers can be complicated, VoIP is different. In the event that you outgrow your current office or need to change locations for any reason, your VoIP system can be easily transferred.
Better Use of Bandwidth
One of the little known benefits of VoIP is that it makes for more efficient use of your existing bandwidth. As roughly half of the voice conversations are made up of silence, VoIP continues to fill those information gaps with other data from other bandwidth consumers to make better use of your resources. What's more is that VoIP allows for compression and elimination of speech redundancies to further improve efficiencies.
Extensive Additional Features
Many businesses don't fully understand all of the benefits and additional features that are included in a VoIP service. VoIP systems allow you to connect a wide variety of devices to keep your business' productivity high.
VoIP services typically include features like caller ID, virtual numbers, contact lists, voicemail etc., but these features can all be used in more sophisticated ways to boost operational efficiency. For example, voicemails and messages can be forwarded to multiple colleagues with a single click, and voicemail-to-text transcriptions can be sent directly to your inbox so they can be reviewed while on the go.
Many features are included in various provider packages and, due to the flexible nature of the service, custom VoIP services can be designed based on the unique needs of your business.
One of the benefits of VoIP that your IT team will enjoy is that its underlying network need not be a part of a specific technology layout. That means your existing ethernet, SONET, ATM, or even your WiFi can be used as the foundation for your network.
The complexity of PSTN (traditional) phone networks is virtually eliminated. This allows for a more standardized system to be implemented that supports a variety of communication types while being more tolerant of faults and requiring less management of equipment.
Fax over IP
One of the additional benefits of VoIP is that most providers include Fax over IP as a part of their service. Fax over IP all but eliminates the high costs of long-distance facsimile, as well as improves compatibility between machines and reliability of service.
Once again, fax information is transmitted via data packets that dramatically improve efficiency. In fact, VoIP doesn't even require a fax machine to send or receive a fax.
More Effective Communication
With your personnel working from various points within the office, their home, or around the world, keeping them within reach is critical. One of the more interesting benefits of VoIP is that you can have a single call ring to your desk phone for the first few rings, then to your mobile phone, tablet, or laptop if the call goes unanswered. This way urgent calls are answered more often and less time is spent checking voicemail or corresponding over other platforms.
One of the most common (and inaccurate) objections to VoIP is that if a business finds themselves without internet for whatever reason, they'd be without a phone as well. One of the benefits of VoIP flexibility is that in the event of an office phone going down due to lack of network, calls can always be forwarded to mobile phones and other devices. That also means weather issues and power outages no longer present the risk they once did.
Ease of Installation, Configuration, Maintenance
One of our favourite benefits of VoIP is that IP phones are incredibly easy to install—even for those who are less technically savvy. There is no need to have expert technicians running phone wiring throughout your office. Instead, IP phones are virtually plug-and-play.
Hosted VoIP software also makes it incredibly simple to add new users, and a web portal makes moving, adding, or changing your systems configuration much easier. All of this simplicity means maintenance is straightforward and rarely requires professional support.
Highly efficient business systems scale with the needs of the business, but traditional phones systems are far more difficult to scale. Scalability is one of the benefits of VoIP that supports your efficiency and productivity while remaining highly cost-effective at the same time.
VoIP systems allow you to add a line as you hire a new employee and eliminate lines in the case of downsizing. You're only ever paying for what you need.
Easy Integration with Other Business Systems
Your business likely utilizes various other systems and technologies to enhance your operational efficiencies. VoIP easily integrates with a wide variety of existing business systems.
That means you'll realize all of the benefits of VoIP without requiring modification of your existing applications or IT infrastructure. For example, outbound calls can be placed via Outlook or other email systems, and customer records can even be viewed during the inbound call with said customer.
Frequently Asked Questions
Every time you use your Mac or Windows computer to call someone using the internet, you are using VoIP. For instance, when you use Skype or Facebook Messenger, these are VoIP applications.
A latency of 20 ms is normal for VoIP calls; a latency of 150 ms is barely noticeable and therefore acceptable. Any higher than that, however, and quality starts to diminish. At 300 ms or higher, latency becomes unacceptable.
Are VoIP calls traceable? Yes. They are very traceable if the call has to traverse the internet, or the public switched telephone network at some point in its journey. You can't do anything on the Internet without some sort of digital trail being left behind.
If there is an ATA box or analog phone adapter somewhere along the phone line, the line is a VoIP phone line. ATA phone adapters are used to adapt a traditional telephone to a VoIP phone network. If there is no ATA box or analog phone adapter, the line may be VoIP or POTS.