Everything You Need To Know About VoIP Systems
Voice-over-internet-protocol (VoIP) systems transmit voice calls as data over the internet instead of the copper wire network that landlines have used for more than a century. They usually cost less than landline setups. They also offer advanced features like automated attendants, video conferencing, and text messaging to enhance your daily workflows.
How VoIP Systems Work
VoIP technology works by converting the audio of your voice into digital data that is then sent over the internet to the person you are speaking with. The signal can be sent to another VoIP system or be converted to the public switched telephone network (PSTN) that landlines and cellphones use in a process known as SIP trunking. If you’ve ever used applications like Google Voice, Facebook Messenger, or Skype to make audio calls, then you’ve already used VoIP.
VoIP calls can be made to any phone number, including smartphones, landlines, or other internet-based systems. In addition, while most VoIP business phone systems do not charge for domestic calls, many do charge a per-minute rate for international calls. In this way, VoIP systems work in a similar fashion to traditional copper-based landline networks. The primary difference between VoIP and a traditional system is how the call is transmitted.
The way a VoIP system converts and transmits data is defined by a piece of computer code known as a codec. There are two different kinds of VoIP codecs used by today’s popular services. The G.711 requires a great deal of bandwidth but offers clear audio quality during calls. On the other hand, the G.729 sacrifices audio quality in order to take up less bandwidth.
However, because calls are transmitted as data over the internet, making a call with a VoIP system requires electricity and a reliable, high-speed internet connection. In addition, you will also need a device to communicate with whether it’s a computer, smartphone, or VoIP-equipped desk phone.
Alternative hardware you can use in a VoIP system includes:
- Traditional phone connected to a special adapter.
- Headset and microphone plugged into your computer.
- VoIP conference phones for team calling.
Who Is VoIP For?
While switching from a landline system to a VoIP system for the first time may require you to purchase equipment, VoIP is a powerful, yet affordable alternative to expensive, traditional landline setups. They are especially ideal for teams with remote workers, as the internet-based nature of VoIP services allows employees to make calls from virtually anywhere they are located in the world (as evidenced by the growing number of businesses adopting the technology).
VoIP technology is especially helpful in the following environments:
- Call Centers: Many VoIP systems come standard with features that lend themselves well to call center environments, such as call queuing, call monitoring, and interactive voice response (IVR) modules.
- Sales Teams: Many VoIP systems come with the ability to connect sales data with popular customer relationship management (CRM) platforms like FreshSales and PipeDrive.
- Mobile Teams: VoIP systems usually offer apps for iOS and Android devices. Therefore, you can effectively take your work phone wherever you go.
- Growing Companies: VoIP systems come in many different price plans and scale easily. Most systems make it very easy to add more users even when you are in the middle of a current contract.
If you are considering making the switch to a VoIP system, but are unsure if your network can handle the technology’s impact on your bandwidth, you can use an internet speed test to measure the health of your current internet setup.
What Does VoIP Cost?
The cost of a VoIP system will vary depending on which provider you choose and any additional hardware you may want. You can adopt basic systems like Nextiva’s Essential Plan for as low as $19.95 per user per month or you can go with a plan that has all the bells and whistles such as Nextiva’s Enterprise Plan for around $27.95 per user per month. (Note: these are the current prices at the time of writing and they may change)
Common VoIP Phone System Features
Every mainstream VoIP service on the market is going to come standard with the bare minimum that you need to make calls, such as a dialer, address book, and options to mute yourself and end the call. However, many vendors also offer functionality that isn’t physically possible with a landline-based system. This includes on-screen softphones, automated attendants, and CRM integrations to help improve all of your daily workflows.
Automated attendants are capable of answering calls, greeting, and routing all of your incoming callers to their desired extension without any human intervention. Sometimes, auto-attendants can route calls to multiple extensions and external phone numbers.
Mainstream VoIP systems allow the ability to connect call data to CRMs like SalesForce and HubSpot. Being able to track callers as prospects in the sales pipeline could be extremely useful in helping your salespeople close more deals.
Phone Number Porting
If you’re a longstanding business and have any sort of emotional attachment to your existing phone number, you can still benefit from using VoIP. Most systems offer some way of porting your existing number to their service. In most cases, you can do this yourself via the settings menu or have ITX Tech Group do it for you.
Free Local & Toll-free Phone Numbers
When you sign up with a new VoIP system, you will be offered the opportunity to adopt a new business phone number. This could be a local number with an area code prefix or a toll-free number that starts with a 1-800. Some vendors even offered customizable vanity numbers like 1-800-FLOWERS for example.
Free Local & International Calling
One of the more notable benefits of a VoIP system is that it offers unlimited domestic calling to nearly anywhere in the United States. And in some cases, you can call countries all over the world at either a low per-minute rate or at no extra cost. However, this feature varies from vendor-to-vendor.
Types of VoIP Phones
VoIP systems are popular due in part to their flexibility. Most small business users will be just fine using their desktop computers to make calls. However, it’s worth mentioning that there are many different VoIP hardware products on the market in case you want a dedicated phone handset for your system.
Desktop VoIP Phones
A desktop VoIP phone works in a very similar fashion to a landline-based device. These phones are dedicated telephone hardware that can be used to make and receive calls. They can also support multiple lines, conference calling, and the ability to connect to a wireless Bluetooth headset. These phones are popular in traditional offices with staff that spend most of their time working at the same desk.
Conference VoIP Phones
Conference VoIP phones connect to your network and offer specialized features for conferencing. These devices usually look like the smart speakers that are popular in millions of homes today and offer controls to mute attendees, block callers, and put attendees on hold. Some advanced devices come with browser-based tools and offer features for scheduling calls. They are perfect for board rooms and other conferencing environments.
Call Center VoIP Phones
There are several different VoIP phones that cater to call center use. These phones look like desktop phones but come with IVR functionality that can direct callers to the right agent based on time, location, and expertise. These phones are especially helpful in sales and customer support departments.
A softphone is a phone that does not have any physical form but instead exists as a software-based tool for making calls on a computer, phone, or tablet. You can use your device’s built-in microphone and speakers, or you can connect virtually any headset. They are typically a free feature in mainstream business phone services. These are ideal for remote teams or business users who do not want to deal with hooking up and maintaining a physical phone.
Pros & Cons of VoIP Phone Systems
VoIP phone systems are going to be beneficial for nearly any type of business user, as they are exceptionally flexible and offer a wide range of features. However, the fact that it requires both electrical power and a fast internet connection can be problematic for some teams.
Pros of VoIP Phone Systems
- Portable: You can log into your VoIP service from any phone or computer in the world and effectively take your work number with you.
- Feature-rich: VoIP solutions do things that landlines cannot, such as offer video conferencing and software integrations.
- Cost Savings: The average monthly cost of a VoIP solution is far less than that of a landline setup.
Cons of VoIP Systems
- Requires Internet: VoIP services require fast and reliable internet and in many rural areas, sufficient internet packages are not available.
- Requires Electricity: If you are located in an area with frequent power outages, you run the risk of losing phone service during blackouts.
- Call Quality Can Be Spotty: The clarity of your VoIP system’s audio quality can cut out or sound choppy if there is a problem on your network or within your provider’s servers.
The Bottom Line
Business VoIP systems offer an affordable, yet capable alternative to traditional landline-based setups. VoIP is popular and continues to grow because of its cost savings and capabilities.
Got questions? Not a problem. Get in touch with us to see how we can help increase your business productivity with VoIP services.