VoIP is short for Voice Over Internet Protocol, also called IP telephony. It is a communication technology developed in ‘73, which has grown in popularity over the years and is now being used on a very large scale all over the world.
VoIP had its beginnings in 1989, when Alon Cohen invented the audio transceiver that will make this technology possible. Cohen was an entrepreneur and businessman from Israel. The first Internet phone software was developed in 1995.
How does VoIP work?
VoIP works by sending multimedia content through the internet, whether it is text, audio, video. The analog signal is first converted into digital packets of data and sent via internet to the recipient. Once it reaches its destination, it is then converted back to analog. VoIP allows you to make calls (including video calls) to landline phones, computers or cell phones.
There are several types of VoIP phones that can be used: desk phones, wireless phones, IP conferencing phones and softphones.
Softphones are very popular and you’ve probably used them for years now and didn’t even realize it. Softphones are apps (software) that you install on your device in order to be able to make/receive calls. A few examples of very famous VoIP softphones are Viber, Skype, WhatsApp.
In order to be able to make calls through VoIP, the first thing you need is a reliable internet connection. You have to sign up for a VoIP service and then you can use your traditional phone with an adapter (it is supplied by the VoIP service provider when you sign up for the service), a VoIP enabled phone or a softphone. If you choose the latter and you want to make VoIP calls using just your computer, you will need a headset or a microphone and a pair of headphones, to be able to communicate.
The benefits of switching from normal phone lines to VoIP. How can you save money
The main reason why so many individuals and people choose to switch to VoIP is cost. Landlines are high maintenance, all the necessary infrastructure is costly and that will be reflected on your monthly bill. And the further the place you have to make the call, the higher the cost. We all know how pricey long distance calls can be when using landlines.
VoIP helps you get rid of that problem because it only has to use the internet, so you don’t have to pay huge bills for your calls anymore, no matter where you have to talk in the world. The internet allows you to call anyone anywhere in the world and the only thing you have to pay is your monthly subscription to the VoIP service and your internet bill, which you pay for anyway.
VoIP helps you save a lot of money on hardware/equipment as well. While most providers do have a wide offer in terms of VoIP phones you can rent/buy, you don’t necessarily have to do so. As we’ve already mentioned it, you can make VoIP calls using just your computer/smartphone. Therefore, depending on your preference/needs, you can also save money on setting up the VoIP system, because you don’t need a professional or special equipment. Installing and setting up a VoIP system is a quick and user-friendly process.
The benefits of using VoIP in the business setting
While everyone can enjoy the benefits of VoIP communication, this technology is especially used by businesses, because it is a great way for them to cut on their monthly phone costs. In the case of the traditional lines, time is literally money! Every minute you spend talking on the phone adds up to your phone bill, because that data has to travel through traditional phone lines/cables in order to reach the recipient. That infrastructure is costly to maintain and keep functional.
Phone communication is crucial in every business and VoIP allows them to fulfill that need at a significantly lower cost than with regular telephony. Corporations have a lot of branches, offices, employees, partners and so on, spread in various locations on the globe, so communication, and in many cases, international calls are a must.
Another advantage of VoIP is the fact that you are not limited when it comes to the number of phone lines that can be added to a VoIP network. Depending on the bandwidth, you can add hundreds of connections, which is very useful for call centers and so on.
Flexibility is another benefit of VoIP. VoIP systems are easily portable, so you can basically move them anywhere you need them. As long as you have a reliable internet connection, you can use VoIP from anywhere in the world.
Also, a big strength of VoIP is the fact that it is richer in features than traditional telephony. The fact that the signal is converted into digital packets opens up a world of possibilities and you can enjoy a lot of useful features such as: multimedia content, IPfax, caller ID, call forwarding, call conferencing (including video conferencing), enhanced voicemail with voice to email, call blocking and many more.
Best VoIP service providers to consider in 2019
- offers softphones or you can rent IP phones
- SMS texting
- Fax messages
- Conference/team calls
- Integrations: Dropbox, ZenDesk, MS Office 365 and others
- Conference calls
- IP phone leasing
- Music on hold
- Call routing, call screening, call recording
- Number porting
- Web phone app
- Intra-network calls
- Music on hold
- Integration with Slack, Zendesk
- Chrome browser extensions
- Caller ID, call block, call waiting, call monitoring, call recording
- Custom hold music
- Virtual receptionist
- Integrations with Office 365, Zoho CRM, JobDiva, ConnectWise
Other VoIP service providers to consider: Nextiva, AxVoice, Ooma, Jive, 1-VoIP.