The definitive VoIP primer –
IP telephony or VoIP (Voice over IP) has been around for well over 10 years. It’s a tried and tested technology that delivers significant advantages over traditional analogue or hybrid systems. It quite literally changes the way you go about your business. Yet business has been slow to endorse the advantages it presents.
Here’s a list of essential pro’s to consider:
- Extension Number portability
The days of calling in the Telephone company to re-patch your number each time you move to another desk are numbered! With VoIP you simply take your phone set with you and plug in to the socket available at your new desk location. Your extension number will follow 🙂
Unlike traditional analogue PABX systems, implementing VoIP means there’s no need to install additional cables dedicated to telephony. Since VoIP technology is based on data network technologies it uses your existing data network infrastructure. Additionally most phone sets allow you to plug your PC or laptop directly into your phone so that you wouldn’t even need additional data points!
- The Phone Sets – Softphones vs Smartphones vs dedicated Desk-Sets
- Having the ability to carry your extension with you wherever you go is probably the single most advantageous reason for considering VoIP telephony. I’m not referring to taking a cordless phone with you into the board room – that’s old hat. What I’m talking about is literally being able to take a call to your extension from anywhere in the world! Most smartphones today support SIP communications and that means that when correctly configured you can have your extension with you wherever you are. All you need is a data package.
- Softphones allow you to install a small software package on your tablet, laptop or desktop and use your headset to place or take calls through your extension. Once again this can be done from anywhere in the world as long as you have an internet connection.
- Desk-Sets provide the desk-bound user with all the functions of the traditional telephone set plus all the benefits that VoIP offers.
Today’s VoIP systems come in various packages however three main categories stand out: Hosted, Software or Appliance.
- Hosted solutions are those supplied by a VoIP Hosting Provider and are charged at a monthly rate per extension. No hardware or software is required on premises – simply a stable internet connection. You get to keep your Main Incoming (Trunk) Numbers and can scale up / down on the number of extensions as required. Read the T&C’s carefully since most providers tie you into a lengthy contract.
- Software solutions involve the installation of VoIP PBX Software onto a PC ideally (but not necessarily) dedicated for this purpose. Inevitably all software solutions will have the additional need to maintain the PC they run on. Various software solutions exist to satisfy a wide range of requirements. The most popular and lowest licensing cost (free) are based on the established Asterisk platform but due to their open-source nature they tend to demand high level of specialized know-how to manage reliably and consequently are favored by VoIP providers for extending hosted solutions. A popular alternative is 3CX and provides a rather intuitive user interface for configuring new extensions and features such as the IVR (Interactive Voice Response). Although scale-ability is good one must consider the PC specification and costs carefully since 3CX’s performance is ultimately dictated by the PC’s capability and its licensing model is based on the number of extensions and simultaneous calls required.
- VoIP PBX Appliances strike a balance between the simplicity and higher cost of hosted solutions and the complexity and lower cost of software solutions. Essentially VoIP PBX appliances are little boxes that contain all the hardware and software they need to provide VoIP PBX facilities. In a nutshell they’re what most small offices need. A ‘no-fuss’ essentials PBX offering all the benefits of VoIP at the lowest possible cost both in terms of initial and on-going maintenance. A large number of manufacturers provide appliance-based solutions such as Grandstream, Sangoma, Digium Patton and various others. Scale-ability is likely to be the only drawback of Appliance-based solutions however if working with a reputable brand upgrading to a higher spec model is easily done.
Whether you’re already on VoIP or considering the switch – speak to us today!