There are many companies producing VoIP Phone systems for the use of businesses. They are extremely helpful in reducing the cost of communications to the company for both internal and external calling. Installing VoIP phone systems not only reduces operational costs, but also offers flexibility to the user, making it a top choice in today’s markets.
What is VoIP Phone Systems?
VoIP phone systems are those systems that are connected to the Internet to offer telephone voice, fax and/or voice messaging applications to the user. VoIP is connected to the Internet and not the public switched telephone network (PSTN).
How does it work?
The first step in installing the VoIP system is that the analogue signal is converted into a digital format in which the signal is compressed or translated into an Internet Protocol (IP) packet, ready to be transmitted over the Internet. At the receiving end, this process is reversed. The system uses session control protocols to manage the tear down and set up of calls.
It also employs audio codecs, which encode the speech, thus allowing it to be transmitted over an IP network as digital audio via an audio stream. Codec is the term used for “coder-decoder”. It is a hardware used to compress/decompress the digital audio data as per the audio file format or the streaming audio format. The use of codecs varies from purpose to purpose and often a range of various codecs are used at a time. Some implementations are based on the narrowband and compressed speech, whereas others are supported by high fidelity stereo codecs.
Using it in your Business
VOIP telephone system can be tailored to suite businesses of all sizes and can drastically reduce communication costs as demonstrated by the enormous amount of people switching to VoIP systems. Conventional phone services are available in VoIP systems too, that allow the phone companies to provide you with inbound and outbound calling with Direct Inbound Dialling. Most companies offer to make unlimited calls to the US and selected countries in Europe, Asia and Canada for a monthly fee, which works out to be almost free for any company. VoIP systems are used in these applications as well:
- Skype – This is software that allows users to make calls over the Internet.
- SIP/RTP, which stands for Session Initiation Protocol/Real Time Protocol.
- IMS-IP Multimedia Systems.
- H.323 – This is another system used in IP Protocols, like the ones used in video conferencing.
There are three ways of connecting to the VoIP service providers:
ATA – That stands for the Analogue Telephone Adapter, which can be connected to the existing telephone jack and the IP network. This is affixed to one location service and is generally offered by Broadband Internet Service providers.
Dedicated VoIP Phones – These are phones that allow you to make VoIP calls without using the computer. They are connected to the IP network through Wi-Fi or Ethernet.
Soft phone – This is also known as the Internet Phone or the Digital Phone. This software can be installed on your computer to allow you to make VoIP calls without the dedicated hardware. Soft phones are very advantageous, as they have a dedicated number which can be relocated to any location or country.
Types of telephone system
There are now many different types of system available. Although many of them have similar features, there will be differences. Here are some different types:
Basic analogue systems – these have little functionality and connect to basic analogue PSTN phone lines. For a small office of, say, 6 people, this may be OK as long as you don’t need anything much in the way of features, although you still can get voicemail and many other features if required. Not many businesses use analogue systems these days.
Digital telephone systems – these connect to digital lines (ISDN2e and ISDN30). However, most digital systems have new evolved into hybrid systems – see below. The main advantage of a digital system is that the ISDN lines can provide caller ID, Direct dial to extensions, groups etc, call divert and transfer to external numbers (eg mobiles).
Hybrid Telephone Systems – probably the most common type of system now, Hybrids have surpassed digital systems. A hybrid allows you to connect to more or less any technology. Therefore you can have analogue, digital, VoIP and SIP lines and extensions. VoIP and SIP are IP technologies.
Hosted IP telephone systems – These use VoIP and IP exclusively (ie you cannot connect ISDN, analogue lines, digital phones etc – everything is IP and often all your calls will be delivered via a broadband connection. This solution deployed badly or without proper management can be a disaster. If deployed well, it can be an attractive option.
Telephone System Suppliers
Ideally you need to choose a supplier that is based within 2 hours drive from your premises. Only then can they really offer a good level of support – the closer the better! Ensure that the sales person has properly identified your needs through understanding your business. They should ask you questions about your business processes and try identify your ‘business pains’. Then they should clearly define why they are suggesting the system recommended. Be careful that they do not have an agenda to sell you something specific – they should act as a consultant throughout the process and be able to offer a range of alternatives. You should also seek 3 local references – these should be similar businesses to yours that have taken similar systems from them – ring them up and speak to them.
All telephone systems can use traditional voice cabling apart from any systems with IP phones. The best cabling for all types of system is category 5E cabling.
Probably one of the difficult tasks you will face is trying to compare quotations. All quotations should be clear and fully itemised. If a supplier is not 100% up front from the outset, this should ring alarm bells. Pick your favoured supplier – if they are more expensive than someone else, give them the other specifications and ask them to tell you why they are more expensive.
Hopefully, this has given you some starting points in order to embark on finding some Telephone Systems that are right for your business and will deliver long-term value.