VoIP conference phone

Use VoIP conference phones for more productive meetings.

In business communications, you need reliable technology to stay connected with clients and employees. You’ve probably heard that VoIP phone systems are the way forward, but you might be wary of upgrading.

The good news is that VoIP systems are easy to set up, far more efficient than landlines, and will save you money! What’s not to love?

VoIP stands for Voice over Internet Protocol. It’s basically a set of technologies that enables users to make and receive phone calls over an internet connection, instead of using the traditional Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN).

A VoIP telephone service lets you make and take calls via a dedicated IP phone, your existing phone via an adapter, or software on your computer. Newer VoIP solutions (some people call them virtual phones) typically host advanced phone networks in the cloud, including phone features such as:

  • Call routing
  • Caller ID
  • Call recording
  • Long-distance calling

Using VoIP is part of a unified communications strategy, which includes video conferencing, instant messaging, and other web-based communications alongside voice calls.

How VoIP works

To place or receive a VoIP call, all you need is a stable internet connection and suitable software or hardware to access your VoIP system.

The technology uses “protocols” to convert voice signals (phone calls) or multimedia (documents or SMS text) into “packets” of data.

These packets are transmitted over broadband or Wi-Fi connections within a Wide-Area Network (WAN) or Local Area Network (LAN). The phone at the receiving end then decompresses the data and plays it back for the recipient to hear or see.

The protocols are responsible for establishing the connection and making sure the packets reach their destination. A set of control protocols, each with different functions, works together in real time to replicate the functions of traditional telephony. The main protocols are:

  • Session Initiation Protocol
  • Real-time Transport Protocol
  • Transmission Control Protocol
  • User Datagram Protocol (UDP)

What are VoIP phones?

A VoIP phone is a piece of software or hardware that allows users to make VoIP calls. As we mentioned earlier, there are several options to choose from:

1. IP Phones

IP phones (or internet phones) look and behave pretty much like analog phones or desk phones—so you don’t need to worry about learning new instructions for using them.

The difference is that they’re connected to a VoIP gateway modem instead of a landline network. Simply plug the phones into your internet connection and you can instantly make or receive calls.

2. VoIP conference phones

A conference phone is a special type of phone that’s designed for conference calls with several people. Originally, they looked similar to desk phones—but these days, they’re much more sophisticated and may offer features like touch screens, as well as designs that maximize spaces like conference rooms.

Conference phones like the Polycom VVX are optimized for the best audio quality, meaning everyone can hear just as well as they could at an in-person meeting. They have smart features like speakerphone and speed dials.

3. Analog Telephone Adapters (ATAs)

If you don’t want to upgrade to IP phones just yet, you can use a VoIP adapter to turn your existing analog telephone into a VoIP-enabled device.

ATAs convert analog audio into digital signals, meaning regular phones can become part of your VoIP network—and can take advantage of all those extra features.

4. Softphones

Another option is to make VoIP calls via your computer or smart mobile device. With an app (voip app) or software (softphone) from your VoIP provider, your smartphones and computers can be used to call your contacts.

There are plenty of VoIP phones on the market, all offering different functionality and features. The jargon can be a little overwhelming—you might see:

  • Video phones
  • Bluetooth and wireless phones
  • DECT (digital enhanced cordless telecommunications).

If you’re not sure which is best for you, it’s worth checking if your VoIP provider also offers hardware. For example, 8x8 offers a range of VoIP phones, routers, adapters, and accessories such as headsets, all of which work with their unified communications solutions.

Is Voice over IP the best choice for me?

There’s never been a better time to invest in VoIP communications, especially as PSTN and ISDN phone lines are already being phased out. Today’s VoIP technology is smart and super-reliable, and opens up a world of possibilities for businesses.

As we’ve discussed, VoIP can be significantly cheaper than traditional phone lines especiallty if it’s hosted in the cloud and requires no hardware setup or maintenance. The access to advanced features and integrations gives you even better value for money.

If you’ve decided to make the switch to internet telephony, here are your next steps:

  1. Check the strength of your internet connection and bandwidth
  2. Decide how many users you’ll need, based on your call volume
  3. Make a list of the features you want/need
  4. Research VoIP providers
  5. Speak to the 8x8 team and find out how their VoIP systems can enhance your business!