TECH GUIDE - What is VoIP?
By Cloud Direct • 28 May 2014
Rather than using a traditional fixed phone line or mobile phone operator’s network, VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) uses the internet to make phone calls. VoIP can be used in conjunction with fixed handsets as well as mobile devices such as smartphones. VoIP provides the power to unify fixed and mobile communications so businesses with multiple sites or home workers are all connected to the same phone system.
VoIP hosted telephony is where the phone system is hosted by the VoIP provider in the ‘cloud’, rather than at the user’s office. Hosted telephony significantly reduces investment and maintenance costs, and as a result, the UK hosted VoIP market has grown rapidly since 2004. By 2015 it is expected to be worth over £1 billion, with 3.7 million users.1 Significantly, the Deputy Chairman of the Federation of Communication Services predicts that the “vast majority” of businesses will eventually switch to VoIP.2
What benefits does VoIP offer for business?
Two-thirds of businesses that switch to VoIP do so to reduce the cost of local and international calls,3 which are either free or significantly cheaper when made over the internet. VoIP additionally provides many advanced call handling features as standard, which not only eliminate costly additional charges but also support productivity. Multiple phones may ring for example as a result of a single inbound call, and users can answer any ringing line within their group.
VoIP also provides an integrated and easy to manage unified phone system, which is particularly beneficial for a geographically dispersed workforce. Users can remotely access the company’s phone system from their mobile device in any location with an internet connection. What’s more, with no fixed phone lines, VoIP offers excellent flexibility to quickly, easily and inexpensively respond to growing business demands.
What are the differences between residential and business-class VoIP?
As you can imagine, business users place more demand and importance on their phone system, requiring not only productivity but also continuity. Whereas a residential user will typically need one line, one phone number, one voicemail box and no extensions, a business will have much more complex needs, necessitating many other important features which are essential for daily operations.
These features may be used, for example, to improve customer service, such as call recording, or to support productivity, such as automatic call routing to the appropriate user or department.
As well as advanced functionality, which can support any number of users and inbound/outbound calls, business-class VoIP also provides the robust security, reliability, scalability and support you would expect from a business phone system.
What do I need to know before I switch to VoIP?
VoIP is run over the internet, so in order to maintain high call quality, it is essential that your internet connection is fast enough to support VoIP. If it is not, you may need to use a specialist broadband connectivity provider, such as your VoIP supplier.
To benefit from all the features VoIP offers, it is also vital to choose a supplier that provides extensive functionality. This will ensure the system will give you a competitive edge by increasing your productivity and customer service, as well as growing with your business.
Finally, the level of support offered by your VoIP provider is important. Look for a service that is 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.
- Business Wire. 2012. UK Hosted VoIP Report & Forecast.
- Cited on www.ihotdesk.co.uk
- Information Week.
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