Voice over Internet Protocol or (VoIP) is a technology that allows you to use your internet connection and network to deliver voice communications. Home users select a VoIP service provider and attach their VoIP phone to their high speed network. By moving phone service away from the traditional lines installed by the phone company to VoIP, you eliminate your phone bill but you will pay a fee to your provider, still many feel the savings are significant. Businesses use a more sophisticated VoIP system and have really been keen on adopting the technology because the savings are substantial. With a traditional phone system, each call made amounts to a fee, with VoIP this isn’t the case.
Many businesses already have the infrastructure to make VoIP an attractive, low-cost communications solution. VoIP works by connecting a VoIP server to the company’s data network, using the standard internet protocol (TCP/IP). This makes VoIP easily expandable, when you need a new phone line you simply assign it on your VoIP server and program it into your VoIP compliant phone. A standard computer can be used as a VoIP server. Small companies or remote locations may use this method as a money saving way to implement VoIP. But this isn’t the most desirable way for a larger company to administer VoIP; larger companies usually buy a dedicated VoIP server.
Nuts and Bolts of Connecting a VoIP Network
The connection is really just basic computer networking. On one end, the VoIP server connects to a switch and the switch connects to the router that goes out to the internet. On the other end, all of the phone lines also connect to the switch and that is how they communicate with the VoIP server. There is a third option, which requires the least amount of maintenance. The VoIP server can be off site, hosted by VoIP Providers and rented by the company. The provider handles all of the maintenance and the in-house network administrator handles any internal issues. A VoIP phone looks just like any other office phone. The only difference is in how it connects for use. The phone has an Ethernet plug that connects to network and also powers the unit. The user sees no real difference in phone operation and gone are the mess of wires that traditional phones need.
Benefits of VoIP
All of the features you have come to expect such as voice mail, caller ID, FAX, three-way calls and 911 service are provided with VoIP; Plus enhancements which make VoIP the future standard for communication.
- Unified messaging means that email is deliverable over VoIP phones and voice mail can be read using your email.
- Interactive conferencing takes on a new meaning as users can exchange files, sync calendars, and bandwidth permitting, use video conferencing over VoIP.
- Your phone number is portable; if you’re out of the office it’s easy to forward your number to several locations using a virtual number.
The only real issue is that a company must have enough bandwidth to support the volume of calls, but it does not take a lot to support voice-only service on any of the VoIP providers, if necessary, bandwidth can be increased. The portability, advanced communication options, expandability, cost savings and simplistic administration make VoIP an attractive option for many businesses.