Human communication has evolved dramatically over the centuries, from word of mouth to letters and telegrams to phone lines that stretch from one end of the world to the other. While you can still make a phone call from your home, it looks a lot different from the lines that Alexander Graham Bell pioneered in 1876.
Today, many types of business phone systems support VoIP, allowing users to make calls from computers, VoIP phones and other devices. Here’s a look at VoIP technology, how it works, and what you need to know if you’re considering implementing a VoIP phone system.
“VoIP” stands for “Voice over Internet Protocol,” which is a fancy way of saying that your phone call is transmitted via a broadband internet connection instead of over traditional phone lines. You can make VoIP calls from regular telephones, computers and other data-driven devices.
VoIP’s precise uses vary from service to service. Some platforms offer call services to anyone with a phone number, while others might limit calls to other users on the same service.
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All VoIP services have one thing in common: a broadband internet connection. Without that connection, VoIP services will not function.
VoIP converts your voice into a digital signal that’s transmitted over the internet.
You can use regular phones with VoIP services, but an adapter is necessary to transmit your voice over a VoIP service. There are also specialized VoIP phones that contain an adapter, or you can make VoIP calls directly from your computer.
Landlines are generally fixed-line telephones that use twisted-pair copper wire and plug into a wall jack. Traditional landlines rely on physical signal exchanges, which aren’t necessary for VoIP calls.
Traditional landline cables are electrified, enabling you to make and receive phone calls even if the power is out. Because they have their own source of electricity, they’re not usually affected by widespread outages.
VoIP technology doesn’t require physical signal exchanges. VoIP phones and devices use the same broadband internet connection as computers or routers. They’re extremely reliable as long as you have a fast, secure internet connection.
>> Learn More: VoIP vs Landline
VoIP systems also have a much wider array of features than a landline does. While landlines can make and receive calls, VoIP systems can include features like automatic call forwarding, voicemail-to-email transcription and virtual receptionists.
Many businesses and consumers implement VoIP systems to improve and facilitate communication. However, these systems aren’t for everyone. Here’s a look at the top features of VoIP systems, along with some drawbacks to consider.
>> Learn More: Benefits of a VoIP Business Phone System
>> Learn More: Optimize Your Network for VoIP
If you’re considering implementing a VoIP system, many setups offer helpful business features that can benefit your organization enormously. Here are some of the most useful VoIP features.
A VoIP system’s exact cost depends on several factors, such as these:
Numerous other factors can affect your overall VoIP system cost. In general, hosted VoIP is relatively inexpensive, costing as little as $20 per user per month. Costs such as necessary equipment may add to the total, but it’s still generally very affordable.
Onsite VoIP setups can cost $10,000 or more. Also, because your equipment is onsite, you’re responsible for all maintenance and troubleshooting.
Setting up a VoIP system is relatively straightforward.
First, you need a secure, stable high-speed internet connection and a router and modem to connect to the internet. Bandwidth requirements vary, but even a small business should have internet speeds of at least 75 Mbps.
From there, you can set up a VoIP call without any additional hardware directly from your laptop, desktop or connected mobile device.
If you want to make calls from a traditional phone, you’ll need an adapter that connects your phone to the internet. You can also invest in VoIP phones that integrate the phone and adapter in one device.
Features such as your operator switchboard, hold menu, and call queue may need additional hardware to help you keep track of incoming and outgoing calls, but that’s something to discuss with your service provider.
Whether you’re a commercial customer or a single user looking to upgrade your phone system from landline to VoIP, these are some essential factors to consider.
Here’s a look at some of the top VoIP providers to consider for various needs and budgets. This is by no means an exhaustive list. There are as many VoIP solutions as companies utilize their services.
As with choosing any business phone system, you should do some research and find the company that will work best for your needs before you buy hardware or commit to a contract.
Nextiva offers an excellent variety of features in addition to typical VoIP connections. You have access to automated customer data at your fingertips and a live chat option for communicating with customers and clients. Nextiva is often ranked as the best VoIP provider for commercial applications. Read our comprehensive Nextiva review for more information.
Grasshopper is among the easiest VoIP solutions to use. It’s ideal for freelancers or small business owners who don’t have much phone traffic but wish to use a business phone number. With Grasshopper, it’s easy to create memorable vanity numbers that are easier for customers to remember.
RingCentral is a great choice for midsize and large businesses that get a lot of phone traffic or have many remote workers who collaborate over the phone. Forget Zoom: RingCentral lets you set up video conferences for up to 500 people for no additional fees. Read our complete RingCentral review for more information.
Ooma is another excellent option for small businesses and freelancers. In addition to its easy setup, the mobile app lets you manage everything on the go, and the program provides unlimited calls to the U.S., Mexico, Canada and Puerto Rico. Read our complete Ooma review for more information.