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Simplifying VoIP – What is it and how does it work?

Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) is an advanced technology that allows people to place calls over the internet using a standard internet connection. With the popularity of broadband, VoIP has become an essential service for businesses and consumers alike.

Since VoIP offers more features than analog phones, people enjoy using it more than traditional phone lines. The ease of using VoIP combined with the price point, which is less than half the cost makes this a widely used service today.

With VoIP phone service, users can stay connected from anywhere. Cloud service providers offer powerful features, including call recording, call routing, auto attendants, custom caller ID, voicemail to email, and so much more than standard phone services can’t compete with.

What is VoIP

VoIP is the technology that transmits voice and multimedia content over an internet connection. It allows users to make voice calls from a smartphone, computer, special VoIP phones, other mobile devices, and WebRTC-enabled browsers. This technology is highly useful for both consumers and businesses as it typically includes features that aren’t available in common phone services.

The process of placing a call over VoIP is very similar to a regular phone call, but VoIP requires internet connectivity to place calls instead of a telephone company’s wiring. An IP address is your Internet Protocol address, and that’s how devices and computers communicate with each other. It is interesting to note that VoIP isn’t a new phenomenon but is being used since the late 90s by telephone companies to carry phone calls.

So this means that if you have an internet connection, you can call anyone without relying on a public switched telephone network (PSTN). VoIP solutions work on every computer as it has built on years of open standards and allows users to enjoy several features besides just making calls.
Tradition telephone requires analog lines to operate, and users need to have extra wiring installed in order to use them for making calls. Additionally, several businesses rely on Private Branch Exchange (PBX), which is specialized hardware for phone service that connects internal phone extensions to the public telephone network. The drawback of this equipment is that it’s very expensive to set up and maintain.

VoIP systems are a solution to these problems. They are not expensive to set up or maintain and do not require any extra wiring. All you need to do is plug in your IP phone, or use your mobile or desktop with a softphone app, and you are done. These digital phones use your internet connection to convert phone calls into data which is then sent over the internet. You can use Ethernet cables for connection or skip them entirely if you have strong Wi-Fi signals. Not only is the cost of making calls much lower, but it also offers many advantages over traditional phone services.

How does it Work?

VoIP services convert voice from audio signals into digital data, and that data is another user or group of users over Wi-Fi or Ethernet. This is accomplished through the use of codecs. Codecs are software or hardware-based process that compresses and decompresses VoIP data. While voice quality may suffer from compression, it also reduces the bandwidth requirement.

VoIP is the process of sending data from one end to another through:

• Encapsulating audio into data packets.

• Transmitting the packets across an IP network.

• Unencapsulating the packets back into audio when it reaches the user.

VoIP systems also include other components such as an IP PBX to use devices, telephone numbers, features, and clients. It uses gateways to connect networks and provides failover in case of a network outage. VoIP systems use session border controllers for call policy management, security, and network connections.

Another important feature of a VoIP system is that it includes location tracking databases for E911 call routing and management. This enables the recording of call performance statistics for both reactive and proactive voice-quality management.

Is it easy to use?

VoIP is relatively easy to set up and use for personal and business calls. As long as you have high-speed internet connectivity, you can use VoIP to make calls over the internet. As far as setting up a VoIP connection is concerned, you can simply plug in a power cord in your wall and a VoIP network cable to your phone, and you are sorted. Using your VoIP phone service is even easier on iPhone and Android. Download a free VoIP app, sign in and start making calls.

When setting up a VoIP for your office, the level of difficulty you would face depends on your requirements and how you want the system to function. Entrepreneurs or small businesses find it much easier to set up VoIP as compared to larger corporations with offices in multiple countries. However, the size of the business isn’t the only factor that determines the level of difficulty involved in setting up VoIP systems.

Since VoIP depends on fast internet speed, if your network structure is poor, you would have to improve that first before switching from PSTN to VoIP. These improvements will take less time when implemented on small businesses than larger ones. However, bigger organizations have access to a wider pool of financial resources to support change.

VoIP setup can become complicated if you want to use advanced features and functionality, or you need to maintain support for legacy systems, or want to connect multiple locations.

How Much does it Cost?

You would find VoIP to be surprisingly inexpensive when you consider its functionality. You can expect to pay around $35 per user per month for VoIP services. When you compare this cost with traditional phone systems or PBX, you will find a massive difference.

This is how much VoIP typically costs:

• Set up costs include initial costs of $0-$50 per line and devices costs of $80-$600 per IP phone.

• Monthly costs of $19-$45 per line.

• International calls are charged at $0.01+ per minute.

• Taxes and fees vary based on the region, city, country, and state.

Let’s compare it with the costs of traditional phone systems.

• Initial installation fees of $50-$100 per drop.

• A safety deposit of $100-$500.

• Maintenance charges are $1000+ annually.

• International calls are charged at $1.00+ per minute.

• Hard pull credit check

This shows how dramatic the cost-saving of VoIP systems is when compared to traditional phone lines.

Pros and Cons of VoIP

VoIP systems can add value to your personal life and business processes in many ways. However, there are some flaws that should be kept in mind too. Here we consider at the pros and cons of VoIP systems.

Pros of using VoIP

• Reduced costs

As we have seen earlier, VoIP is far less expensive compared to traditional phone services. This difference has a simple explanation. When voice signals travel over the internet without using phone lines, the VoIP service provider saves money in ‘carriage fees, ‘ which are the fees you have to pay when using phone lines to deliver a call.
Another feature that makes VoIP a cost-effective option is the variety of payment plans that it offers. You can even use the pay-as-you-go feature, which allows users to only pay for services when they need them. This is a good option for those users who need a free phone service occasionally as they can save money they would otherwise have to pay as monthly fees to maintain traditional landline services.

• Portability

One of the best features of a VoIP connection is how easy it is to move them around when needed. A traditional phone system needs a professional installer to connect your business or home to the system, which can take several days. In contrast, most VoIP setups self-install, and the phone number becomes operational within a few minutes. If you move, you can easily take your VoIP system with you and reconnect it without having to change your number. Many VoIP providers also give their users the option to access their VoIP phone systems through the internet, using either the web or a mobile app.

• Advanced features

What sets VoIP services apart from traditional phone companies is their functionality. Residential phones services from several VoIP companies allow users to access advanced features such as conferencing, caller ID, call waiting, and call forwarding at no extra cost.
Traditional phone services require users to pay extra for these added services.

• No need for new phone equipment

Many VoIP providers have devices that can convert the signals from your old phone and fax machines into digital packets that can travel over the internet. This makes it easy to switch to VoIP without investing in new phone equipment initially.

• Call anyone around the world.

With incredibly low international long-distance rates, you can call anyone worldwide without overspending your communication budget.

Cons of using VoIP

• Bandwidth dependency

As you already know, VoIP uses the internet to place your call, and while most of us have a sufficient internet connection to make calls, other factors can affect the bandwidth available for a call. These factors can include activity on your local networks, such as file transfers or streaming.
If the VoIP system doesn’t have enough bandwidth, you might find the call quality to be poor, or it may have trouble maintaining a connection.

• Emergency calls

Most VoIP users encounter problems when calling emergency numbers. The 911 system was designed keeping the traditional phone system in mind, and since a phone line is fixed to a specific location, the system alerts the first responders to the location of the call. Therefore, calling 911 from a VoIP line will transmit the address you provided at the time of setup to 911 services.

• Needs uninterrupted power supply and internet

VoIP systems need a continuous power supply to remain functional. Therefore, if you are facing a power cut and you have no backup power, your phone will stop working. Similarly, if you have trouble with your internet, your VoIP line will fail regardless of whether you have a power supply or not.

Notable Features of VoIP

VoIP phone systems have various features that help businesses become more productive and efficient. Here are the notable features of VoIP systems.

1. Call forwarding

2. Call routing plans

3. Call waiting

4. Desktop app

5. Mobile softphone app

6. Voicemail

7. Auto-attendant

8. Busy lamp field

9. Advanced call tracking

10. Call blocking

11. Call center supervisor

12. Call recording

13. Call whisper

14. Incoming caller ID

15. Conference calling

16. CRM integration

17. Music on hold

18. Video calling

19. Customer service with an agent

Is VoIP Reliable for businesses?

Most businesses need a phone presence to operate. Whether it’s for customer support or sales operations, brands require a way to communicate with their customers. VoIP providers offer businesses a modern, versatile, and more affordable alternative to classic landline phones; however, some question its reliability before making the switch.

VoIP systems are reliable and allow users to make high-quality professional calls. In the initial days of internet-based calls, technological innovation outpaced the infrastructure required to support it, which is why people are skeptical about using it now. However, technology has advanced with time, and the infrastructure has drastically improved. VoIP systems are very secure and reliable for all users.

What to Look for in a VoIP Service Provider?

Moving your business from PBX hardware to a VoIP business phone system has many benefits. Business transition to a cloud-based system for added functionality, cost savings, and easier management. VoIP providers vary greatly in cost and level of service; therefore, when you’re considering a provider, it’s essential to align your business needs with the features offered by the provider.

The most important factors to consider when deciding on a VoIP provider are:

1. Cost and features

For most businesses, the element of reduced costs is a major motivator to switch from the traditional telephone network to business VoIP systems. You should carefully consider the features offered by each provider to ensure that you aren’t paying extra for features that others usually include.

2. Fully compatible with mobile users

With current global situations, remote workers are the way forward. When comparing providers, make sure that they offer a full-featured mobile app that lets users access business SMS, advanced voicemail, faxes, etc. Choose a VoIP provider that is fully invested in providing a complete user experience for mobile users.

3. Third-party integrations

Another aspect to consider is how well a VoIP provider works with other third-party services that you already use. This is important because, without integration, a business might have to spend significant time and resources migrating or re-creating business data centers that already exist inside other products.

4. Integrated services

Opt for a single provider that offers an integrated communications platform instead of engaging with multiple providers. There are many benefits of a unified system, starting with the option to offer features that their employees need, from online meetings and video conferencing to collaboration and team messaging. Unified communications are expandable and more flexible than traditional phone systems.

WowTel is a VoIP service provider that offers significant advantages for businesses of all sizes. You can not only save money and boost productivity but also expand the capabilities of your phone system.