Voice over internet protocol, also known as Voice over IP or VoIP, lets you make telephone calls over your data network—and control the costs of international and long-distance phone calls, telephony hardware and maintenance.
What is VoIP?
VoIP is technology that converts your voice call into a packet of digital data, allowing you to bypass legacy phone lines and instead use a data network or internet connection to make phone calls. You also can refer to VoIP as broadband phone service, internet phone service or cloud telephony. Because you place a VoIP call from a computer, special VoIP phone or other internet-access device that doesn’t rely on analog telephone connections, VoIP can help you better manage telephony costs.
VoIP is the platform used to integrate modern communications technologies including telephones, smartphones, voice and video conferencing, email and presence detection into a consolidated unified communications system.
How does VoIP work?
To place a VoIP call, you can use special desk phones (called hard phones) or software installed on your personal computer or smartphone (called softphones). When you dial a phone number, your VoIP phone talks to a VoIP server that can reside on your business premises or at an external location. The server translates the dialed phone number into an internet protocol (IP) address, so you can reach the person you want to talk to. Once a connection is made across the data network between the two VoIP endpoints (called clients), VoIP converts voice into data packets and back again to voice on the receiving end to allow you to converse and complete a call.
If not all the people you’re calling are within the same network, you may need an adapter, called a gateway. The gateway helps connect different types of communications networks. For example, with a gateway you can place a VoIP call to a non-VoIP location.
In large-scale, corporate, industrial or institutional uses where the building might have a legacy voice switch called a private branch exchange (PBX) on premises, a special type of VoIP called IP trunking is used. IP trunking allows businesses to consolidate disparate voice and data networks into one data connection and divide it among all of their computers, phone lines and calling services to transmit data and communicate with the rest of the world. Whether users are in an office or remote locations, an IP trunk connects users over your converged data and voice network.
What are the benefits of VoIP?
There are a variety of reasons to turn to VoIP telephony services rather than rely on traditional telephony, including:
- Predictable costs. Hard-wired, analog phone service requires large infrastructure investments and maintenance. With VoIP, voice and data communications are run over a single network, and providers typically charge a monthly subscription fee for service. You get consistent, pay-as-you-go pricing instead of having multiple bills for separate voice and data plans. This can help you avoid upfront capital investment in infrastructure and costs for maintenance.
With a VoIP system, in-network calls are typically included with a low monthly fee. Additionally, many VoIP providers also charge low rates for long distance and international calling, which can help you control costs when accommodating remote offices and mobile workers.
- Bandwidth efficiency. Traditional voice calls require dedicated circuits at all times. VoIP helps efficiently manage many calls dynamically over shared bandwidth. When you have underutilized data network capacity, you can use it for VoIP at no extra cost. With VoIP compression technology, the bandwidth required for a call can be reduced significantly. During periods of high call volume, a VoIP network can assign more bandwidth for calls. And when phone use dips, more bandwidth is available for data.
- Scalability. Traditional phone systems require complex and expensive physical upgrades. Your VoIP system should be built to expand efficiently so that when you want to extend phone service to remote employees or multiple office locations, your phone service can grow with your business.
- Business continuity. VoIP solutions are designed to provide reliability, stability and quick data recovery to help keep companies up and running. Service providers typically offer multiple business continuity options, such as using cloud backups and by re-routing calls to alternate locations, mobile phones or third-party answering services when there are IT or power outages.
- Managability. VoIP interfaces are helpful for businesses because their user-friendly web interfaces allow local telecom managers to quickly set up and cancel accounts, voice mail and passwords, as well as easily manage functions such as moves, adds, changes and deletes.
- Efficient collaboration. VoIP helps make it easier for workers to communicate with each other—especially when VoIP is used as part of a unified communications system that includes tools to help your staff be more agile and productive. Because VoIP phones work wherever there is a good internet connection, you can take your phone anywhere you connect to the internet to plug your phone into your network. Even teleworkers and employees in multiple locations can access the network from anywhere they have an internet connection—allowing them to use the calling plan and communications features as if they were in the home office.
What are my options for delivering VoIP in the enterprise world?
Because a VoIP network allows customers to streamline voice, data and internet connections over one network, it’s an ideal solution to help businesses improve productivity. But not all VoIP providers and networks are created equal. You need to understand the quality of the technology, the reliability of the network and the level of customer service that will support what’s most important to your organization, rather than picking a provider who has the cheapest price.
Verizon VoIP and session initiation protocol (SIP) trunking solution is a flexible deployment option that lets you migrate your business to a Verizon VoIP solution, allowing you to increase your lines as your business grows instead of forcing you to cope with proprietary systems. We deploy our communications systems with a geographically redundant configuration to help reduce the risk of network failures, and performance is backed by service level agreements. Additionally, our network quality and our ability to combine wireless and wireline help, have set us apart from the competition.
Whichever VoIP system you choose, the right solution for your business should unlock the productivity and collaboration potential of IP communications. The system you choose also should help protect against service interruptions that threaten to grind your business to a halt, such as natural disasters, power outages and cyberattacks. And, the quality of your VoIP provider’s products and platforms should allow your business to grow as future technologies develop. Only by evaluating VoIP providers against these VoIP characteristics that are critical to your business will you end up with the quality and value your business requires.