Voice over Internet Protocol, or VoIP, refers to the transmission of voice over the Internet. VoIP used to refer to connecting with private branch exchanges (PBXs) using IP, but these days the term is used to refer to IP telephony. When you make a call, the data is sent digitally over the Internet using Internet Protocol (IP) instead of traditional analog phone lines.
You’ll need to make use of a VoIP provider and there are many available today, for example Vonage, which is one of the largest providers. They often charge a monthly fee, and while there are other alternatives available like Skype, these services won’t necessarily be as reliable or offer the same quality when it comes to voice clarity and stability.
In order to use VoIP, you’ll need a computer with VoIP software, as well as an Internet connection. You’ll also need either a VoIP telephone or microphone. If you use a VoIP phone, it normally connects via USB to your computer and you can make and receive calls easily. An analog telephone adapter will allow you to use your computer with a regular phone, while an IP phone is another option to use, connecting directly to your router, or working wireless.
You’ll need a broadband connection to make and receive calls, which can refer to your local area network, high speed DSL or a cable modem. When you make calls, you may be restricted to only calling other numbers within the network, or you may call to other areas for an additional fee. This will depend mainly on the service provider you use.
VoIP technology involves the use of codecs to turn audio into data packets, which is then transmitted across a network and unencapsulated back into audio at the other end. This technology reduces the cost of network infrastructure and enables VoIP providers to offer voice services over their networks. It also allows businesses to have a single network for voice and data.
This voice technology typically uses standard codecs like G.711, which is the standard when transmitting uncompressed packets. The G.729 codec is commonly used when transmitting compressed packets. There are also many proprietary codecs used by equipment vendors and although voice quality may sometimes suffer when compression is used, it significantly reduces bandwidth usage.
Once the data is transmitted via IP, Real-Time Transport Protocol (RTP) is typically used. Session Initiation Protocol, or SIP, is often used when it’s necessary to start or end a call.
There are other typical components necessary to use VoIP services, such as an IP PBX to manage telephone numbers, gateways to connect networks, and session border controllers that provide network connections and security. A VoIP system can also make use of location-tracking, such as E911 (enhanced 911), to collect call statistics for proactive and reactive management.
There are two main types of VoIP phones available, software-based and hardware-based. A hardware-based phone looks similar to a traditional telephone that is hardwired or cordless, including similar features like a microphone, touchpad and caller ID. You can also enjoy features like conference calling, call waiting and voicemail services with these phones.
Software-based phones, often referred to as softphones, is software that is installed on a mobile device or a computer. It has an interface that looks much like the handset of a telephone, with a touchpad and a caller ID display. You can make and receive calls by using a headset and microphone that connects to the computer, or you can simply use your mobile device.
VoIP technology has many benefits to offer small businesses, such as:
There are also services and features available with a VoIP phone that are not available with traditional phones, and you could potentially benefit from significant cost savings too. Many businesses are moving over to VoIP to make and receive calls, especially since this allows them to use one network for their voice and data, simplifying management and reducing overall costs.
Business owners can also save on equipment costs, as it won’t be necessary to spend money on traditional PBX systems – your broadband connection will be powering this service. No need for extra wiring either, as you can even go completely wireless with a business VoIP system.
Want to know more about how VoIP can benefit your small business, contact SwiftSystems today at (301) 579-7776 for more information on our VoIP services.
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