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Voice over Internet Protocol is transforming the telecommunications industry and the way we make calls by shifting voice (and other types of) transmission from the analog telephone to the internet. 

Business VoIP systems are now used in businesses far and wide to replace public switched telephone networks (PSTN) and mobile networks. And residential VoIP is changing the way we call at home too. 

But why are VoIP networks so popular and how can you get in on the action? Here, we’ll run you through everything you need to know about VoIP and VoIP service providers to help put you on the path to a business phone service upgrade.

What is VoIP?

Let’s start from the top. 

Voice over IP (VoIP) is a telephony technology that allows you to receive calls over the internet rather than using traditional phones with landline phone services or telephone networks. 

VoIP technologies convert analog voice signals and other media streams into digital packets and send them to the recipient at the other end of the line via a broadband connection. 

These compressed digital packets are decoded instantaneously so that you can have a real-time conversation. 

Every device connected to a computer network that uses IP for its communications is assigned an internet protocol address. IP addressing is essential for allowing information to be sent between devices on a network. 

Neat, right? 

But how does cloud VoIP actually work? 

Every VoIP system relies on control protocols. To send data over the internet and between devices, your VoIP phone must abide by a set of rules—or protocols. 

VoIP relies on many different protocols, including:

  • Session initialization protocol 
  • Real-time transport protocol 
  • Session initiation protocol (SIP)

VoIP is essentially an internet phone service. All you need is high-speed broadband.

VoIP services provide internet-based communications that you can take anywhere. VoIP calls, online meetings, and voicemails can be made from any internet-enabled device, anywhere with WiFi connectivity or data access. You won’t need to rely on a local area network. That makes VoIP perfect for remote team collaboration and business travel. 

Plus, this kind of internet-based telephone service is extremely flexible. You can make VoIP calls from any mobile device, like cell phone and laptop, with any operating system (whether iOS or Android), as long as you have internet service. 

If you aren’t ready to make a full switch to VoIP, you can still use your old landline phones. All you need is an analog telephone adapter (VoIP adapter) that connects to your phone socket, and away you go!

Advantages of VoIP

Needless to say, using VoIP comes with many advantages. Costs are generally lower, and accessibility higher. Other advantages include:

  • Portability
  • High voice quality
  • Accessibility

These are just some of the advantages VoIP has over traditional telephony. We’ll expound on the benefits later.

Disadvantages of VoIP

Despite its great features, VoIP’s main issue is internet dependency. A reliable internet connection is essential if you want to use business VoIP. With low network bandwidth or in the event of an outage, your service will be compromised. 

But that’s not the end of the road especially if you partner with a reputable VoIP service provider—which brings us to the next section.

Diagram showing how VoIP makes voice transmission possible over the internet

So, does VoIP require a service provider?

Yes. You will need a VoIP service provider to set up a VoIP business phone system. As the name suggests, VoIP service providers are companies that offer VoIP services to businesses and individual consumers. 

Most VoIP providers use the Software as a Service (SaaS) model. This means that you purchase a hosted VoIP solution (usually through a monthly subscription) rather than a product (one-time payment and single download). 

There are many VoIP phone system providers out there, so it’s essential to choose wisely. Look for a VoIP phone service that offers all the phone features and functionalities you need. 

And don’t forget to factor in your anticipated future growth. Service providers like RingCentral offer scalable VoIP solutions that cater to every business size, from small businesses and startups to large enterprises.

Mobilizing a cloud PBX (essentially a virtual PBX system) creates an automated answering system to direct incoming calls to your business phone.

How to choose a service provider

As you start shopping around for your new VoIP service, a few things are worth keeping in mind. It’s worth considering these essential features before making any investment.

  • Cost - Is it affordable?
  • VoIP Apps - Make sure there’s a full-featured mobile VoIP app. 
  • Integrations - Look for third-party integrations with your other business tools, such as your CRM.
  • UCaaS - Make sure that you’re getting more than just calls.

RingCentral is the industry-leading provider of VoIP services. Our business communications solutions are simple to set up. With RingCentral, you can be hardware-free and totally secure and enjoy 24/7 award-winning, expert user support.

Team discussing what VoIP service provider to choose for their company

Top VoIP features

VoIP isn’t just about making calls. VoIP providers offer tons of fantastic additional features like caller ID, call screening, and multi-level IVR, along with basic telephone systems and functionality. The best VoIP providers like RingCentral offer unified communications with VoIP solutions to streamline your business communications into one user-friendly experience.

Here are some of those top VoIP features:

Unified communications

Unified communications (or UC) allow you to streamline all of your business voice communications and other modes of communication under one multi-functional app. Instead of having one app for SMS text messages and another for making calls, you’ll be able to manage everything from one interface. 

UC platforms cover everything from audio conferencing to video meetings, team chats, screen sharing, and instant messaging.

RingCentral MVP brings messaging, video, and phone together so that teams can do their very best work from anywhere. Teams can chat, share files, and create dedicated threads for particular projects or topics. Plus, HD video meeting means nothing is lost by working remotely. Even if you’re all miles apart, you’ll feel like you’re in the same room.

Auto-attendant

An auto-attendant is a bit like a receptionist for your phone line. Having an auto-attendant is a great way to project a professional image for your brand. The automated system will greet incoming callers and guide them to the most appropriate channel, department, or individual representative. 

RingCentral MVP includes a comprehensive virtual receptionist service. Your virtual receptionist will greet customers dialing in and route them directly to employees’ headsets so that they never miss out on a customer service call or sales opportunity. 

Plus, it includes fully customizable calling features. You can add a unique company greeting, relevant extensions, business hours, call forwarding, and routing rules.

Mobile phone loaded with VoIP features

Call recording

Another great VoIP feature is call recording. Many VoIP service providers offer recording capabilities so that you can record phone calls between customers and your staff. It’s a great way to monitor how your team handles customer calls and spot any areas that need improvement. 

Rest assured, call recording is incredibly secure. Only authorized personnel have access to recorded content, and the recording itself will remain undetectable.

What are the benefits of VoIP?

VoIP is an ideal business phone system. It’s reliable, affordable, and flexible. Instead of requiring a designated server room for your Private Branch Exchange (PBX), you and your teams will have the freedom to work away from the desk.

Let’s take a look at some IP phone advantages in more detail.

Affordability

VoIP calling is very affordable. You’ll be able to access both domestic and overseas conference calling at competitive prices. Plus, with more long-distance working opportunities, you might just find that those utility bills start to plummet as well! Many businesses save money when they switch to VoIP telephony from traditional PBX.

Call quality

VoIP calls are super high-quality. Many VoIP providers offer HD calling and video. That means incredibly clear sound for conferencing, making you feel like you’re all in the same room. All you need is a high-speed fiber-optic internet connection for super crisp audio.

Ongoing video conference between team members
Agility

VoIP brings agility in spades. When you can call from any IP network, it means that you can take your business with you wherever you are. Today’s businesses need mobility, and that’s exactly what you get with VoIP. 

With RingCentral, you’ll be able to access your VoIP phone services and management tools from anywhere, even with your mobile phone. Simply access and manage your RingCentral channels through your online dashboard. It’s that simple.

Scalability

Last but not least, VoIP can be scaled with ease. It’s so simple to add new users and increase provisions as and when your business requires them. This ability to scale up and down according to demand makes VoIP the ideal choice for any kind of business,from small business startups to fully blown enterprise-scale organizations.

Ongoing online collaboration between team members

How to set up VoIP

To set up VoIP for your business, you’ll need to sign up with a VoIP phone service provider. And that really is the hardest part. Once you’ve made your decision, the rest is simple. VoIP is so easy to set up. 

All you need is a high-speed internet connection and a device of your choice, and you’ll be able to get going in minutes. You can start collaborating from your laptop, desktop, cell phone, or any mobile device (Android or iOS).

Setting up your business VoIP solution with RingCentral is just a few steps away.

Step 1: Test your bandwidth

Test your internet connection and bandwidth. You need to make sure that your internet speed is high enough to facilitate high-quality voice calls and video conferencing. To do this, you must carry out a standard capacity test. 

This will help you determine the level of VoIP traffic that can be supported on your broadband connections at any one time. Then you can carry out a VoIP quality test. This simulates a call so that RingCentral can offer you a voice quality estimate.

Step 2: Configure your modem

Ensure that your modem is set to IP pass-through or bridge mode.

Step 3: Configure your router

Make sure that your router is on the RingCentral-approved list of routers. If not, you may need to purchase a new router. You should be able to configure your approved router on your RingCentral account.

Step 4: Plug in your VoIP phones

If you’re using desk phones, attach the handset to your VoIP phone base using the coiled cord. Then, plug the Ethernet cable into the LAN or SW port on your phone and plug the other end into your router or switch. Your phone will automatically run the provisional configurations.

Step 5: Get calling

You’re ready to go! Time to start taking advantage of those amazing VoIP features and functionality.

IT professionals testing their company’s newly installed VoIP phone system

VoIP all the way

VoIP is as modern a business solution as it gets. If you’re looking to streamline your office communications and gain some all-important flexibility, VoIP is guaranteed to deliver results. 

And since VoIP providers like RingCentral have adopted a SaaS model, you won’t have to worry about any enormous upfront costs or on-premises hardware. Instead, you’ll be able to access tons of added services and support while scaling your business—with the knowledge that your VoIP will scale up with you.

FAQs

Is VoIP cheaper than landlines?

Yes. Over time, VoIP calling is significantly cheaper than the standard phone bill for network calls on an analog phone. VoIP providers offer very low rates for international calling. With RingCentral, each country has different international calling charges, so you’ll need to check the rates before you start calling.

Can I keep the number from my existing phones?

Yes. This is called number porting, and it’s the process of transferring your phone number from your current phone service provider to your new one. Most service providers allow you to port your old number over to your new plan. 
With RingCentral, it’s straightforward. 
Simply log in to your RingCentral online account as an administrator, navigate to phone system > phone numbers > transferred > transfer numbers.

How much does it cost?

The price of VoIP plans varies depending on your business VoIP provider and the particular service package you choose. RingCentral MVP plans start at just $19.99 per user per month for messages and phone calls. For more features, check out our standard, premium, and ultimate plans.
By now you already understand the importance of having a VoIP service provider. But if you’re still unsure which vendor to choose, you can try RingCentral for free!
Important details and disclaimers
Get Connected Promotion:
20% Office + Phone Rental discount for SMB’s
*Void where prohibited. The Offer is valid between March 1, 2021 and August 31, 2021. To qualify for SMB Get Connected promotional offer (“Offer”) you must: purchase a two-year RingCentral MVP plan of any tier; (2) between two and three hundred ninety-nine digital lines; (3) be located in the US and Canada only ; and (4) be 18 years of age or older; when purchasing the RingCentral MVP plan (the “Qualifying Conditions”). The Offer includes: (1) a 20% discount off the standard list price of qualifying any RingCentral MVP plans for remainder of two-year plan; and (2) the option of phone rentals “Qualifying Phone Models” (defined below) for a 40% off the standard list prices offered by RingCentral. Qualifying Phone Models are limited to the following: Poly 150 or 250 or Yealink T42S orT48S, subject to availability and RingCentral’s sole discretion. Promotional price discount applies to base monthly rate only and excludes fees, taxes, additional or premium services and other charges. These terms are subject to change at any time without prior notice. You agree that the final discount Offer price is determined by RingCentral’s sole discretion, in compliance with these terms and any applicable laws. RingCentral reserves right to terminate this offer at any time. RingCentral Terms of Service apply. Early termination or other changes to the customer’s RingCentral MVP plan, may be subject to additional fees, subject to the Qualifying Conditions.
RingCentral Office is now RingCentral MVP. All references to "RingCentral Office," whether in the Agreement or its attachments, Order Forms, marketing or descriptions, mean "RingCentral MVP"