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  • Writer's pictureAngela Sanna

What is a VoIP Phone?

Updated: Jul 5, 2023

Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) is a digital telephone system that allows users to make voice calls through a broadband internet connection rather than with a traditional analogue setup. Calls are no longer limited to desk phones, as VoIP enables calls to be made across multiple devices, such as laptops and mobile phones. A new era of mobility is well and truly at hand for businesses right across the globe, especially with the Wholesale Line Rental (WLR) switch off on the horizon.

We’re continuing our transition into a digital-first world, with the way that we communicate continuing to rapidly evolve while we read and scroll through stories about the latest ‘ground-breaking’ advance in technology that is set to change the way we all live our lives. When it comes to telephone calls, the shift away from ISDN (Integrated Service Digital Network) has begun, with the PSTN switch off scheduled to be completed by 2025. As we start to bid farewell to the old copper telephone network, we look towards VoIP and the digital future of communications.

The background of VoIP:

This ‘cloud-based telephony’ has its roots in the 1970s when the internet revolutionised communication. Initially developed as a means to transmit voice signals over data networks, VoIP has evolved into a robust solution for voice and multimedia communication. By converting analogue voice signals into digital data packets, VoIP enables real-time voice communication over internet protocol networks.

Advantages of VoIP over traditional phone systems:

Cost Efficiency: One of the primary advantages of VoIP is its cost-effectiveness. Unlike traditional phone systems that rely on dedicated telephone lines, VoIP utilizes existing internet infrastructure, eliminating the need for separate phone lines and reducing operational expenses significantly.

Flexibility and scalability: VoIP phone systems offer unmatched flexibility, allowing users to make and receive calls from any location with an internet connection. Whether it's a desktop computer, laptop, smartphone, or specialised VoIP phone, the system adapts seamlessly to diverse devices. Additionally, VoIP systems can easily scale up or down to accommodate changing business needs, making it a highly adaptable communication solution.

Rich feature set: VoIP systems offer a plethora of advanced features that enhance communication and productivity. Features such as call forwarding, voicemail-to-email transcription, call recording, video conferencing, and virtual receptionists empower organizations to streamline operations and provide exceptional customer service.

How VoIP Phones Work:

We now know that VoIP uses the internet to transmit voice calls, unlike analogue systems which require a physical connection between each caller. To send these voice signals across the internet, they need to be converted from speech into digital data packets via the VoIP system. Whether it’s on a laptop, smartphone, or a traditional phone set with an adapter, an internet connection is all you need to start taking advantage of VoIP’s vast potential.

The data that has now been converted into packets is compressed using software called codecs, and then sent over the shortest path from your router to the destination. These codecs then decompress that data once it arrives, putting all of the packets back together in the right order so that the recipient receives a clear and recognisable voice. Seems simple enough, right?

What makes VoIP truly ground-breaking is how a range of devices can be used with a VoIP phone system. These devices include:

  • A regular old landline phone with a special VoIP adapter that plugs into a wall socket or the router directly (in case you want to keep things retro)

  • VoIP phone sets, which work like a regular phone but plug into an internet router rather, allowing users to handle IP calls from a traditional phone

  • A computer, where a software application acts as a telephone interface, which turns computers into a ‘softphone’ that resembles a traditional phone interface

  • A mobile phone, with only a data connection and the chosen app installed (this works in a similar vein to WhatsApp, Skype and other apps)

Power and Potential of VoIP Phone Systems:

VoIP phone systems empower businesses with unprecedented capabilities and opportunities:

  • Geographical flexibility: With VoIP, businesses can establish virtual phone numbers in different locations, allowing them to create a local presence globally.

  • Integration with business tools: VoIP systems seamlessly integrate with customer relationship management (CRM) software, allowing organisations to streamline workflows and enhance customer interactions.

  • Unified communications: VoIP facilitates the integration of various communication channels like voice, video, instant messaging, and presence, enabling unified and efficient communication within organisations.

  • Scalable Infrastructure: VoIP systems are easily scalable, accommodating the growth and changing needs of businesses without significant infrastructure investments.

VoIP is a game-changing innovation that will give people an exciting new way to work and collaborate with one another, especially as we look towards how to easily replace the traditional landline service. Overall, it’s certain that VoIP phone systems are the future of how we communicate with one another.

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