A reliable communication platform is one of the key pillars of a successful business. Your customers need to feel confident they are dealing with a reliable organization. This is the reason why start-ups need to invest in establishing a phone system, not just for customers but for internal communication purposes as well.
Legacy phone systems are gradually being phased out because they are very expensive to install and maintain. Aside from that, they need a lot of work reconfiguring when a business is scaling up or down.
The new generation of phone systems that run on a data communications network are referred to as Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) technology. These systems utilize broadband internet connections and come with a whole lot of features that are not available with older proprietary phone systems.
The convergence of voice and data networks has seen the adoption of IP telephony in enterprise environments. This has led to a significant reduction in communication costs. Users no longer require multiple devices to communicate with customers and colleagues. A tablet or mobile phone connected to a converged network can be used to place calls and access the internet.
What is VoIP?
Voice over Internet Protocol or VoIP is basically a communication technology that allows the delivery of voice communication through Internet Protocol or IP networks. It is gradually replacing the old Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN). VoIP is becoming the preferred communication platform because it is cheaper and it allows a higher degree of portability. Users who would like to make VoIP calls can use any of the alternative methods below:
- IP phones. These type of phones comes with software and network ports that enable them connect to data networks. IP phones are far more advanced in comparison to traditional analogue phones. Not only do they offer advanced call management functions, but they also provide superior call quality.
- Analogue Terminal Adapters (ATA). This is a device that is attached to a traditional telephone handset to enable it connect to a data network. The ATA is preferred by users who are not ready to purchase an IP phone. It is worth noting that traditional phone accessing a VoIP service using an ATA may not access all the features that an IP phone would.
- Soft phones are the most common method used nowadays. These are basically software applications that are installed on a computer or any internet capable device. There is a wide variety of soft phones available for free on the internet.
Types of VoIP
There are two major types of VoIP through service providers.
Fixed VoIP service
This refers the kind of VoIP service commonly provided by cable providers like Vonage. Your VoIP calls will be relayed over a private communications network (the cable provider’s lines). The main advantage of a fixed VoIP service is that the phone number is associated with a fixed physical address. It is therefore less likely to be used for fraudulent activity. In addition to that, fixed VoIP service providers are more likely to support Emergency 911 calls. The downside is that you’ll only enjoy savings on your calls when you are at home.
Non-fixed VoIP service
As the name suggests, non-fixed VoIP does not require a fixed physical address. It can be accessed by anyone with access to the internet. Popular free services Skype and Google Voice are good examples of non-fixed VoIP. The phone numbers associated with this type of VoIP service are not associated or linked to any address. In fact, the caller can register a phone number for a location that they don’t reside in. This kind of service can be extremely useful to businesses that have remote employees located in different countries. It allows your customers to contact your business without incurring expensive charges associated with international calls.
Non-fixed VoIP phone numbers were popular with fraudsters and spammers because they provided anonymity for users. They made it easy to acquire new numbers and tweak caller ID details. Nowadays there are ways to identify non-fixed inbound calls. There are phone services and features that accurately identify a phone number that is linked to a non-fixed VoIP service in the US. Caller details are retrieved from the Caller-Id Name database (CNAM). This means you can take precautions to avoid compromising personal information and reduce the risk of fraud. These services can even trace numbers that have been ported.
Both fixed and non-fixed VoIP phone provide their own set of pros and cons and choosing which service to use really boils down to the intended use for the phone line. Aside from number portability, there are other benefits to using VoIP phone systems.
Benefits of non-fixed VoIP service
Most users prefer this service because they can use their VoIP phone number on a multiple devices. Your friends, family and customers can reach you on the same number whether you are on your computer, mobile device or desktop phone.
Lower cost and easier installation
Most IP phones available today can be automatically provisioned once they are connected to the internet. You just need to follow instructions of how to cable your phone and you will have your phone line up and running.
You can also use a soft phone to access non-fixed VoIP services. A soft phone is a program or application installed on your computer or mobile phone that allows you to access VoIP services. A wide variety of soft phones are available for download at no cost.
Advanced call management features
Depending on your service provider, it is possible to setup calls to your number to ring on your desktop phone, computer and mobile device. You can then answer the call from the device that is closest to you.