What is VoIP?
VoIP stands for Voice over Internet Protocol, also referred as Internet Telephony, IP Telephony and Internet Calling. It is a technology that allows you to make very cheap or completely free phone calls using a internet connection instead of the regular phone line. The calls are transmitted through public internet via cable or optic fiber. Because of this innovation and the efficiency it provides, it was named one of the most successful technology in the last decade.
How does VoIP work?
VoIP converts your voice into data packets that travel through the internet. The converted packet travels over the internet. This process is achieved thru codecs which is short for encoder-decoder, where once the other end of the call receives the encoded digital data, this data is re-coded into voice signals.
Aside from a private IP network, users can also use wireless hotspots available in public locations to connect to the internet and use VoIP to enable you to make calls directly from a computer.
Aside from computer-to-computer calls, VoIP can also enable you to make calls to landline and cell phones. You can also use landline telephones in making and receiving calls, just connect an analog telephone adapter to your network.
Using VoIP in Business
Since almost all of businesses nowadays use the internet in a lot of transactions, VoIP has started to become necessary in running one. It’s useful features, proven benefits and ease of use, the VoIP system has become the phone system of choice even for small businesses.
Businesses selling products or services directly to consumers, or even other businesses, can greatly benefit from a VoIP service to streamline their workflow. Basically any other businesses that uses telecommunication as a part of their operations can benefit from this service.
What are the advantages and disadvantages?
The VoIP service can save you a lot of money. The basic setup and ongoing costs are significantly lower than a traditional phone system. This is because VoIP works using the internet connection, you can almost consider VoIP as free. All you need to pay for is the internet connection, and no more extra charges for cables, wires and other hardware. If a broadband internet connection, either cable or DSL, is available, you can make PC-to-PC calls anywhere in the world without any cost. PC to landline is also available with a cost, but is generally less than with a regular phone service.
- Mobility/ Portability
The VoIP service’s mobility and portability is one of its significant advantages. Distance or location will never be a problem with VoIP since it is not dependent on it, one important and helpful concept of VoIP. Whether you’re making a call from your office to the other side of the world, as long as you both have an internet connection, communication is possible and is at minimal cost. This makes the VoIP service much more convenient than the traditional telephone service in terms of connectivity and cost. All you need is a broadband account. It is especially convenient when you frequently travel, all you need is a headset and an internet connection and you can call and talk to anyone, wherever they may be.
The VoIP service brings a great deal of flexibility. A virtual number also known as a VoIP number, which is given to you along with your VoIP service, is completely portable and can be used wherever you go. With a VoIP network, you are not limited as to how many connections you can make, compared to a regular phone line where you are limited to the number of lines available within the system. You will also be sent a converter, where your phone number is programmed into, which can allow a regular landline to use the VoIP service. This is especially useful if you travel frequently, you can take the converter and the phone number wherever, as long as you have an access to an internet connection.
The VoIP service usually comes with a bunch of advanced communication features, and unlike a regular phone service, at no extra cost. These features may include call forwarding, caller ID, voicemail, call waiting even three-way calling. You can even integrate your VoIP phone with other services over the internet like video calls, , audio conferencing and data exchange such as photos, videos and documents while engaging in a conversation. Some even provides virtual faxing, a feature where an email account linked to the VoIP system is used to send and receive fax.
- Power cuts
Since the VoIP service requires an internet connection, and an internet connection needs power supply, calls would be impossible during a power outage. While a regular phone uses the current supplied through a phone line, it’s not possible with IP phones. It needs a backup supply in case of a power cut.
VoIP being reliable on an internet connection has it’s cons too. It’s service’s quality and reliability is greatly affected by the quality of your internet service. Poor internet connection can result to lags and delays, or worse, can prevent you to use the service at all. It’s portability when travelling can be great, but finding a good internet connection at some places can be hard sometimes, and that can cause a problem in using the VoIP service.
- Call quality
VoIP’s call quality depends on a lot of factors like your hardware, your service provider but most importantly, your internet connection. Network congestions and poor internet connection can cause distorted voice quality, chappy calls, lags and delays.
The internet has always been an easy target of security breach. And VoIP service’s dependence on the internet can pose a great threat in security. The service can also be affected by computer viruses.
What to look for in a VoIP provider?
Once you’ve decided to use the VoIP service, finding a provider will be the next step. Here are some things you should look for in a VoIP service provider:
- Price and features
The quality of service and total costs might not be enough basis to choose the best provider. You might be paying less for a great quality, but paying more for additional features you need for your business. Make sure to choose a provider which offers additional features for free, or at a lower cost.
Quality of service is not the only factor in a provider’s reliability. Failure in the VoIP system can be either the user’s fault or because the provider’s systems have crashed due to high demand. Choosing a provider who can be reliable in fixing simple system failures, and other unexpected disasters can be crucial in the flow of your business
Customer service and technical support are important factors to consider in choosing a provider. A provider with competent representatives who can quickly help you resolve any issues you may encounter, at any time of the day is what you need for your business.