Running a business is no easy task. Daily communications require constant maintenance in order to run operations effectively and efficiently. But with so many technologies, devices, and people to connect with, managing it all can be a challenge.
That’s where VoIP phone service comes into play.
But let’s back up a bit. You may have heard of VoIP before—but what is it, exactly? Here’s everything you need to know about VoIP and how it can help your business stay connected.
What Is VoIP Phone Service?
VoIP stands for voice over internet protocol. It’s a technology that sends and receives voice communications over an IP network. When you have VoIP phone service, analog audio like human voice is converted into a digital format that’s transmitted over the internet in real-time. This allows the technology to mimic traditional telephone services.
VoIP is a communication solution for today’s businesses because it brings telephony onto a cloud-based platform, so you can connect with both clients and colleagues using one application from anywhere, as long as you have internet connection.
What Is a VoIP Phone?
VoIP phones refer to the medium used to make and receive VoIP-based calls.
VoIP phones come in two main forms:
The first one is a hardware-based IP phone. The hardware-based VoIP phone looks like a traditional telephone, but it’s actually more similar to small computers designed to receive and transmit VoIP calls. It can have additional features like a speakerphone, a touchpad, and a caller ID display.
The second one is softphone or software-based VoIP phone. It does not look like physical telephone. In fact, it’s not really physical at all. Instead, the VoIP software is installed on a computer or mobile device. From there, you can connect a Bluetooth headset or simply use the built-in microphone and speakers on your device to make VoIP-based calls.
Most VoIP phone services geared towards businesses can be used with both. The hardware-based phones provide the familiarity of traditional telephones, while softphones give flexibility and mobility since they can be used from anywhere.
How Does a VoIP Phone Work?
VoIP technology boils down to transferring data.
Analog calls and communications are turned into packets of information. This is done through VoIP Codecs, which convert analog audio signals into digital samples that are then transmitted over internet networks.
Once the digital audio signal is delivered to the receiver, the codecs convert it back to an analog signal for the human ear.
There are many components that ensure quality transmission.
Real-time transport protocol (RTP) carries audio and video media streams with minimal delay. At the same time, the RTP stream has the real-time transport control protocol (RTCP) that travels alongside it. RTCP works to provide feedback on the quality of media flow and other valuable information for assessing the quality of VoIP calls.
The Session Initialization Protocol (SIP), on the other hand, establishes, manages, and terminates real-time communications over IP networks to ensure VoIP phone calls work. Meanwhile, session border controllers (SBC) manage call traffic between internet service providers and only allow authorized subscribers to pass through. It acts like a firewall to ensure high quality of service for voice calls.
All these components work together to deliver real-time communications that are just as good as regular phone calls on traditional landlines.
Can You Use a Regular Phone with VoIP?
You can use a regular phone with VoIP service.
All you need is a VoIP adapter that connects to your router using an Ethernet cable. Type the IP address of the analog telephone adapter (ATA) into a web browser and follow the on-screen instructions to configure it. You’ll be prompted to enter your provider’s username and password. Once you’ve configured your adapter, you can connect a landline phone to it with a telephone cable.
What Are the Advantages?
There are numerous advantages to having a VoIP phone service.
For starters, it enables a more flexible work environment. Users can essentially work from anywhere, and everyone stays connected to a single phone system as long as they have internet connection. It creates a sense of unity within the workforce and encourages people to work together – even though they may not be in the same room, city, or even country.
Another advantage of VoIP is that it helps enhance productivity. First, as said above, it allows users to be more mobile and allows them to be productive anywhere. Also, many providers like RingCentral have VoIP integrations, which add a communication component to your favorite productivity apps. With this, you can make calls directly from popular business apps like Office and Google apps. You can also match existing contacts across contact lists to inbound calls’ phone numbers. This way, you save time because you won’t have to shift from one app to another.
How Does This Service Apply to Businesses?
Businesses are gravitating more and more towards cloud-based communications as the world becomes more and more mobile.
A VoIP phone service is highly relevant for any company trying to juggle multiple communications from multiple parties. Not only does it provide flexibility by allowing users to make calls from anywhere from Internet-connected phones or computers, it also allows you to reduce costs. This is because calls made through VoIP, local or long-distance, usually have lower rates compared to traditional telecommunication companies.
In addition, with a service like RingCentral’s, you also get all of your communications apps under one cloud communications solution.
VoIP, as the telephony component, is often combined with other communication technologies to provide businesses with a unified communications service.
Instead of signing up for different providers, your business can address all its communications needs like cloud PBX, Internet fax, business SMS, voicemail, team messaging, teleconference services, and video conferencing in one solution.
Through this, RingCentral is able to remove the usual bottlenecks you get when you have different providers for different communication needs. With every communications component you need in one platform, it encourages more collaboration and constant connection within your organization.
The bottom line is, VoIP for business can bring great value and ultimately save you money.
By streamlining communications and optimizing productivity, you are indirectly making a positive impact on revenue.
The ins and outs of VoIP services can be complex, but the solution they provide is simple. Businesses looking for increased collaboration and unified communications can look to a VoIP phone service as a great first step towards improving daily operations. The value it brings makes sense for successfully building a business up to its full potential.
Originally published Sep 25, 2018, updated Aug 12, 2020