Voice Over Internet Protocol. It's hardly catchy! But VoIP is a real game-changer in the business world, and it keeps on evolving. What's the latest news? It's exciting stuff...
Millions of individuals and businesses are dropping traditional public phone lines in favour of VoIP, which has overtaken the fixed line network in many countries. Before long, experts predict, VoIP will be the default standard for phone calls. he change is so dramatic that some industry commentators reckon we might soon be saying goodbye to the landline for good. Some even predict that a whopping 1 billion of us will be using VoIP by 2018.
What is VoIP?
VoIP involves getting your phone service over the internet connection instead of via a traditional phone company, something that's only possible thanks to a reliable, fast internet connection. The biggest attraction is the cost savings, since VoIP promises to be a lot cheaper than normal services, potentially free.
Back in 2013 VoIP was a twinkle in many an expert's eye, but was still beset by problems that the technology of the time couldn't quite overcome. Now it has grown up, and if you haven't thought about VOIP for business yet, this might just be the perfect time. Today's wireless VoIP phones are portable, flexible, save you money and provide an even better service.
Early VoIP services included software and hardware in a VoIP phone, which was in turn hard-wired into a network. These days you can make IP-based calls over a WLAN, a Wireless Local Area Network.
About wireless VoIP
A VoIP system transmits phone calls into a digital format, received at the other end on a traditional phone line. The call completely avoids the Public Switched Telephone Network. The old-school VoIP phone has been replaced by wireless VoIP, connectible to the software inside laptops, tablets and smartphones, with the device connecting automatically to the nearest and best WiFi access point.
WiFi VoIP phones are cordless and include much the same equipment as hard-wired VoIP phones: a headset, display and sometimes a port for a Public Switched Telephone Network. The quality of the WLAN connection is vital, since a wireless VoIP phone uses an office wireless internet connection to connect to VoIP software and needs lots of bandwidth. While internet routers that can handle wireless VoIP are usually more expensive, they're currently vital if you want to enjoy an uninterrupted service.
How to choose the right WiFi phone
The main factor when choosing a WiFi phone is, of course, the 'quality of service'. WiFi systems are primarily designed for data transfer, and they prioritise data over voice. This can mean interrupted and poor quality calls. Good quality of service protocols force the WiFi to prioritise voice data, but the latest WiFi phones don't always feature them. On the other hand fast advances in technology mean that suppliers are improving voice quality on a daily basis, thanks to increasingly faster data networks.
At the same time WiFi VoIP systems offer excellent cost saving thanks to increased competition and reduced interconnection charges. The phones themselves are portable, which means they're practical. And they are surprisingly easy to use since most people nowadays, whether they realise it or not, are familiar with WLAN networks, which means training is minimal. There's more – an increase in the use of SMS is another important long-term trend in the VoIP industry, in direct line with customers becoming more reliant on SMS for communicating with businesses.
The signs point to 2018 being a massive milestone for the VoIP industry. Having said all that, VoIP is still a relatively young sector, and as such remains in a state of flux with new providers dipping their toes in the market more or less weekly. Only one thing is certain: VoIP is here to stay.
Your best bet? Keep an eye on developments, and talk to your fellow business owners to find out whether they've adopted VoIP yet.
If you would like any further information on how VOIP could help your business, please get in touch at [email protected] or call us on 01273 447111