What is a VoIP provider?

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A woman on a VoIP call made possible by a good VoIP provider
A woman using VoIP application on her mobile phone

Defining “VoIP provider”

A VoIP provider is a business entity that offers VoIP services directly to consumers or businesses.

VoIP, or Voice over Internet Protocol, is the technology that allows for the use of IP networks to perform telephony functions, such as making and receiving a phone call.

It’s usually offered in the SaaS model, wherein the software is provided as a service (hosted by the vendor) rather than as a product (downloaded by the user).

What this means is that instead of selling software to customers, hosted VoIP providers have customers subscribe to a service.

A mobile user was able to call someone on her desktop

How does VoIP work?

VoIP uses packet-switched technology to transmit voice calls over IP networks. It uses a set of protocols like Real-time Transport Protocol (RTP) for carrying media streams and Session Initialization Protocol (SIP) to imitate phone functions like dialing and initiating transmissions from one point to another. What happens is that audio data, like voice, is broken down to smaller packets, which then travel through IP networks

Once it reaches its destination, the audio data is reconstructed and delivered as the person’s voice (like it would be in a regular phone call). All of these happen in real time.

VoIP calling to a mobile phone and vice versa

What is the difference between a VoIP phone line and a normal landline?

The main difference between VoIP and a regular landline is the way voice data is transmitted. As discussed above, VoIP uses packet-switched telephony to send calls over IP networks, which can be accessed from any internet-enabled device.

Traditional (also known as normal) landlines use circuit-switched telephony through the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN), which can only be accessed through the architecture of traditional telecom providers. Traditional lines are tied to specific telephones and locations, so mobility is very limited.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of VoIP?

Like any technology, there are benefits and limitations to VoIP. In this case, it’s just that the positives outweigh the negatives. To help you understand, here are the advantages and disadvantages of VoIP:

What are the benefits of VoIP?

VoIP can lead to savings.

Compared to traditional telecoms, there are more opportunities for savings in VoIP. For one, long-distance calls are almost always treated as if they’re coming from the same general area. There is no more being charged long distance for US-to-US calls. VoIP providers are also known to have lower international call rates compared to traditional carriers.

VoIP has more inclusive features without premium charges.

Most VoIP phone services include features that cost additional premium charges if you want them added to your traditional landline service. This includes features like call forwarding, call screening, and caller ID, not to mention that modern business VoIP systems are also inclusive of higher-level call management features like cloud PBX and answering rules.

VoIP phone service is very scalable.

Getting a new phone line through traditional telecoms is not as easy, even if you already have an existing line with them. New phone lines in this setup need new cabling and new hardware. In addition to this, you cannot do the installation yourself because it requires specialized manpower.

That is not the case with VoIP. Ordering new phone numbers and activating them only require a few taps on your mobile phone or a few clicks on your computer. VoIP phone numbers are not tethered to a single device, so they can be accessed from anywhere. There’s no need for the installation of new cables because VoIP uses IP networks as transmission lines.

VoIP is flexible and mobile.

Again, unlike traditional phones that are tied to specific telephone units, VoIP can be accessed anywhere as long as you have an internet connection. This provides users, especially businesses, mobility that does not cost as much as cell phone minutes.

The best part is that users are able to use their official business phone number wherever they are. This opens a lot of opportunities for remote and flexible work options for businesses.

Colleagues doing video conferencing on work

What are the disadvantages of VoIP?

VoIP needs the internet to work.

The main limitation of VoIP is that it is entirely dependent on your broadband connection. No internet means no VoIP.

That’s not all. Poor internet connection can also affect the quality of voice calls. Some companies have invested in internet service to be used solely for VoIP so that it does not have to compete with other internet transmissions within the organization and ensures enough bandwidth for voice calls.

If for some reason you cannot get a dedicated internet provider for VoIP, another solution is to use specialized QoS (quality of service) routers. These routers can be set up so that they prioritize VoIP transmissions over other IP transmissions, ensuring the best quality of calls using your existing internet connection.

VoIP is not always secure.

Data traveling through the internet can be intercepted by third parties, and that includes VoIP transmissions. This means your voice calls can be in danger of being hacked or breached and can fall into the wrong hands.

That is why the most reputable VoIP providers employ, at the very least, high-level encryption to protect voice calls during end-to-end of transmission.

These are just some of the advantages and disadvantages of VoIP. But do not let it discourage you from shifting to VoIP. Like any technology, VoIP has its limitations, but if you compare the benefits of VoIP to its disadvantages, you will see that going with VoIP is still the smart move.

Do I need a VoIP service provider?

Whether you are operating a small business or a large enterprise, the advantages of VoIP over traditional carriers is very obvious despite some disadvantages.

So if you want to enjoy the benefits of VoIP (that includes savings, scalability, flexibility, and mobility), then yes, you need VoIP for your business. It is just a matter of choosing the right VoIP provider for your company.

Look for the one that can give you the most bang for your buck. Modern business VoIP providers no longer just provide VoIP; these days, they offer entire business communications solutions. VoIP phone systems no longer just let you make and receive calls over the internet, they also let your business send internet faxes and business SMS, manage and route all incoming calls, and even let you host and join audio and video conferences from anywhere.

Do not settle for the cheapest VoIP phone service you can find. After all, not all providers are created equal. Go for the VoIP provider that can solve all the communication needs of your business.