VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) has been around for some time but it is now becoming a major driver of change in small business phone systems.
What is VOIP?
For many years the early internet was seen as an environment for computer whiz-kids, academics, scientists and dreamers. Yet in the 1990s and earlier years of the 21st century, its distribution into ordinary offices and homes meant that it became a major method of carrying information.
Given that many internet connections were (and continue to be) delivered over phone wires, it didn’t take too long for someone to think that it may be possible to deliver voice systems over the internet as well.
The voice over internet protocol was born.
Today it is a mechanism for delivering phone calls and business telecom services over the internet.
How does it work?
The exact mechanism is beyond the scope of a short article but suffice it to say that it allows your business to both make and receive telephone calls and faxes over the same lines and computer equipment that your office would use for its internet connections.
This may mean that you no longer need to use the PSTN (public switched telephone network) at all.
The real impact of voice over internet technology for the small business includes potential benefits such as:
- access to potentially cheaper global telephone services;
- the utilisation of video calls (.e. seeing the person you’re speaking to on your PC or videophone;
- less equipment required;
- the integration of your information and business telecommunications systems with your calling – in other words on one PC window you could see your client and speak to them and in another window on the same screen you could be viewing and updating their account records;
- fax and data (images, video, files) transmission services fully integrated.
What’s needed to get it?
VOIP isn’t something you can go into a shop and buy. It is a set of standards that governs the way certain business or personal communications systems work over the internet.
Typically a company looking for small business telephone systems may set out to look for a solution or solutions that are PSTN based. For many very small companies, that may be sufficient to meet their business telecoms needs.
If, however, your company already has an existing investment in PCs and internet connectivity then an internet based solution may be worth considering.
There are a wide range of VOIP based systems available offered by a number of major suppliers. Many operate dually over the PSTN and internet – something that may also offer increased resilience and contingency. You’ll need a good broadband internet connection to really maximise the benefits that this technology can provide and some other application-specific equipment.
If you are looking to switch to VOIP, or are interested in finding out more as to how this could be a business telephone solution for you, why not get in touch?