Business telephone systems have changed a lot over the years. They’ve gone from being space-consuming pieces of hardware that were tethered to a single location, to digital applications that can be used on the go.
One such digital app is Voice over Internet Protocol (that’s VoIP for short). This a phone system that uses the internet to transfer calls from one location to another. And it’s helping businesses to reduce spending and work more productively.
In this post, we’ll be telling you:
- What it is
- How it cuts costs and drives efficiency
- The things you can do with it
- How it works
- What you’ll need to set it up
- Common concerns, and why these are irrelevant
What is VoIP?
VoIP uses the internet to direct a call from one location to another, instead of an analogue telephone line. Calls can be made and received on any device with an internet connection, such as a computer, tablet, smartphone or even a special desktop phone. The latter also needs to be connected to an adaptor.
The service is mainly delivered through an online application, which can be installed on the device (or devices) of your choice. This can usually be opened on a web page or through a programme on your device.
Depending on who’s providing your service, you’ll normally pay for it on a subscription basis and at a fixed price per month. The cost would be for each individual in your business who wants the service. The core cost will come with a set of features, and you may be able to add more for an extra price.
How It Cuts Costs and Makes You More Efficient
It’s an online application, not physical equipment
Phone hardware costs a lot of money to buy, maintain, repair and upgrade. But VoIP primarily operates over software that updates automatically and frequently. So you can reduce your hardware spending while future-proofing your company’s technology. Updates also cover security fixes, so there’s no additional cost for this.
You can foster a bring your own device (BYOD) culture
This is where your employees bring in their own devices to work on. Which can help you save even more money on hardware! Since you only need an app, you can have this set up on your employees’ phones, tablets and computers. Why spend money on new hardware when you don’t have to?
Reduce the number of app subscriptions you need
When you subscribe to one app, this usually comes with multiple options on how to communicate. Instant messaging, audio calls and video calls are often all included in the same package. So there’s no need to spend any more on extra apps.
Cuts the need to travel
With a video call feature, you can hold a meeting or conference from the convenience of your own office. Instead of travelling to and from a meeting location and losing time you could spend more productively, you can be productive right after the meeting is finished.
Helps you avoid downtime
Even the most reliable internet connections can suffer from downtime. If you find yourself with no connection in your office, you can take your devices to a location with the internet. Such as a cafe or your home.
What You Can Do With It
As well as helping you to save costs and work more efficiently, there are a number of interesting things you can do with this technology. Here are some of our favourites:
Switch between devices
You might get a call at your desktop phone or computer, and find you want to take it on your mobile instead. With VoIP, you can do that. If you’re going to be out of the office, but are still expecting an important call, you can set up your system so it calls your mobile instead.
A customer could easily phone your business looking for a specific person who they don’t have the number for. You can make it so that when they call, they are immediately given a list of options to help them get to the right place quickly and easily.
Many packages include video calling or will let you add this feature for an additional cost. So you can have a professional-looking video conference without paying for an additional piece of software or adding this to your monthly subscription costs.
How Does VoIP Work?
For the service to work, you’ll need an internet connection that has enough bandwidth to support the service. Your phone line is then plugged into the internet.
You’ll need a licence for each person in your office who intends to use the service. And you’ll pay a monthly subscription for each of your users. You’ll get a number of features included in the core cost of your bundle, while others can be added on at a later date at an additional cost.
The final thing to know about it is your user interference. This will usually be a web page that you can log on to, where you can see all the relevant statistics associated with your service. Your supplier will maintain this page for you, and you can request for them to add extra features here.
How to Install VoIP
As we’ve said before in this post, you can use your app on virtually any device of your choice. This includes computers, smartphones, and even specially-made desktop phones. The equipment you’ll need for each of these is minimal. But there are some specifics you’ll need to know about.
For a computer, you'll need:
- An internet connection. This can be through a cable modem or high-speed service. You'll need enough bandwidth to cover the number of people who'll be using the system in your office.
- A headset or speakers with a microphone.
For a smartphone, you'll need:
- A Wi-Fi connection.
- A headset or speakers with a microphone (optional).
For a desktop phone, you'll need:
- A phone that can be plugged into an adaptor and the internet.
- An adaptor
Concerns (And Why They're Not Needed)
Some people worry the voice quality on a VoIP call won't always be great. But this has become less of a problem over the years, and a lot of people now think it's hard to spot the difference from a normal phone call.
A slow internet connection can have a negative effect on the quality of your calls. But if your connection is reliable, your calls will be too.
VoIP uses the internet to provide your business with a telephone line. As long as you have the digital app, you can use it on any device of your choice. You’ll pay a monthly subscription fee for every user in your company.
This service can help you save costs and be more efficient by:
- Reducing the need for physical phone equipment
- Enabling a BYOD culture in your workplace
- Lowering the number of apps you need to subscribe to
- Cutting the need to travel for meetings
- Helping you prepare for downtime
You can do a lot of interesting things with the service, such as switch between devices on the go, guide callers to the right place quicker, and use professional video calling tools. There are some differences in what you’ll need to set it up, depending on the device you’d prefer to use, but these are minimal.
For more information about this service, contact us. We provide a lot of businesses with a VoIP service.
Note: This post was originally published as ‘How to Get Started with VoIP’ in December 2017. It was updated in July 2019.