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VoIP, or Voice over Internet Protocol, is technology that allows you to make phone calls using the internet. Instead of your voice being sent over telephone wires or a cellular network, your voice is turned into data and sent via the internet.
Increased mobility and flexibility are gained through VoIP calling technology. It allows you to call from the same phone number, and receive calls to the same number from anywhere in the world, provided you have internet access.
You can use VoIP to make and receive phone calls from a special kind of home or desk phone, from a desktop or web application on your computer, from a mobile phone app, or from an analog phone with a special adapter.
Many people use VoIP to save money on their home phone bill. Businesses and call centers use this technology for the same reason; however, because it is internet-based, we now have added software tools to help with business communications, like special voicemail, auto attendants, hold music, and automated phone trees.
One thing to keep in mind is that VoIP is dependent on your internet quality. If you have a network outage, you cannot receive phone calls.
Hosted PBX — Calls are routed to you over the internet and your PBX phone hardware is off-site.
PBX (Private Branch Exchange) — In a business, a telephone exchange or a switching system that lets a business with multiple phone extensions and lines share a connection to the PSTN. It also allows internal extension-to-extension calling as well as inbound and outbound calls.
PRI (Primary Rate Interface) & PRI Trunking — A physical connection to the PSTN over a dedicated line. It has 23 voice channels, allowing your business to take 23 calls at the same time. Known for higher QoS than SIP because it’s not subject to network. It travels through a private telephone network.
PSTN (Public Switched Telephone Network) — The combination of telephone networks used in the world. Includes landline and cellular networks.
SIP (Session Initiation Protocol) — A network technology that delivers voice data via the internet.
SIP Trunking — A virtual connection to the PSTN. Delivers multiple voice lines to a single organization. More flexible than PRI. You can add more call lines without having anyone come on-site to install any hardware.
UCaaS, or Unified Communications as a Service, or UC — VoIP service, but with extra communications features for business, all hosted in the same place, or accessed in the same software. In addition to VoIP calling, customers can get several other communication tools, like searchable phone books, voicemail to text, smart call logging, automated attendants, video calling, and more.
International calls are cheaper with VoIp, and you can accept phone calls anywhere around the globe. You can also use special features without having a fancy phone.
VoIP depends on the internet and won't work in case of a power outage.
Setup can either be easy or difficult, depending on the scope of your project. Some products require you to plug in a special adapter between your existing phone and your router. If you need to lay extra ethernet cables, then setup can be more extensive.
No. You can use just one or the other; however, some businesses opt to use both. If you are a business and you have high volume levels, or some amount of fluctuation in your call volume, you might opt to use both a landline and VOIP, in case of an outage.
For most cases, yes, VOIP is practical. The only thing to think about is the strength of your internet connection. Dial-up connections are not fast enough. The minimum bandwidth needed is about 100 kbps for upload and download.
VoIP pricing is usually cheaper than standard PSTN service.
Businesses as well as individuals use VoIP in many ways. Big call centers use VoIP, but there are also providers who specialize in services for small companies and entrepreneurs. In addition, people can use VoIP to replace their home phone or landline service. It is especially useful if you are making international calls, which can be expensive via a regular phone company.
No. You can use a standard home or business phone, but you will need a special adapter. You can also use a specially made VoIP phone, or you can use a mobile phone, but with a special app.
Consider your situation. Do you need to make phone calls just for you, or do you need to provide phones for multiple employees? Also check out pricing, add-on services, and reviews.