What is VoIP?

Invest in a cutting-edge communications solution that will help your business keep up with competitors around the world

XCaaS_Homepage_Collage_v2.png

What is VoIP?

Invest in a cutting-edge communications solution that will help your business keep up with competitors around the world

XCaaS_Homepage_Collage_v2.png

What is VoIP?

Invest in a cutting-edge communications solution that will help your business keep up with competitors around the world

XCaaS_Homepage_Collage_v2.png

What is VoIP?

Invest in a cutting-edge communications solution that will help your business keep up with competitors around the world

XCaaS_Homepage_Collage_v2.png

Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) is a technology that allows us to break free of the confines of a single office space. With VoIP, users can make phone calls from anywhere as long as they have a device that can connect to a stable internet connection.

Over the past few years, internet calling has become a popular choice for businesses around the world. Companies have found that VoIP can give them more powerful features at a lower cost than traditional telephone companies.

But, what does VoIP actually mean, and how does it work? We’re here to provide you with all you need to know about VoIP.

To be more specific we’re going to go over:

What is VoIP and how does it work?

VoIP stands for Voice over Internet Protocol. It’s a set of technologies that enable users to make and receive phone calls over the internet. It allows businesses to ditch traditional landlines and replace them with a solution that can fit into a versatile workplace.

An Internet Protocol (IP) address plays a big part in how computers and other devices communicate over the internet. When VoIP technology and IP addresses are used to make and receive calls, it gives us the ability to communicate over the phone wherever we can get internet access.

This is different from what analog phone systems use to make and receive calls. Traditional phone services require specialized hardware called a Private Branch Exchange (PBX) to connect phone extensions to the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN). Instead of running through the copper wires that make up phone lines, VoIP just needs a high-speed internet connection to function.

How VoIP works

When you make a phone call through VoIP, the audio is sent over the internet as small data packets. Using real-time transport protocol, these data packets are routed through your VoIP service provider and delivered to the call recipient in less than a second.

Because you are now leveraging the power of the internet, VoIP also comes with advanced features like call recording, voicemail, and call routing. This allows you to have full control over your telecommunications. It also makes your team function more efficiently with fewer communication mishaps.

Let’s take a more detailed look at how VoIP works:

  1. Your phone/computer/device connects to your mobile data, switch, or router in your Local Area Network (LAN)
  2. When you dial a telephone number or click/tap a contact, you’re telling your VoIP provider to route the call
  3. The VoIP service provider establishes the call and compresses audio into data packets
  4. The data packets are converted back into sound that both parties can hear.

With VoIP, you can make a call from a device as long as it has:

  • Internet connectivity
  • A speaker
  • A microphone

It really is as simple as that. When you use a traditional phone system, it requires you to have a physical desk phone that is connected to the PSTN. However, when you switch to VoIP, you can make calls from your:

  • IP phone
  • Traditional desk phone
  • Computer
  • Mobile device (including a tablet, cell phone, or similar device)

Types of VoIP

While the use of the internet to make telephone calls is a commonality among all types of VoIP solutions, there is a variety to choose from. Take a look at the table to view the different types, how they work, when to use them, and what equipment they need to function.

Type of VoIPHow it worksWhen to useEquipment needed
Integrated accessIntegrated access uses your existing telephone system and an Integrated Access Device (IAD).This option is great if you want to keep the feel and look of a traditional phone line. It gives you the features of VoIP with the least amount of changeDesk phones, Integrated Access Device (IAD), IP Network, Internet-connected devices
SIP trunksSession Initiation Protocol trunks, or SIP trunks, transmit video and voice data across your broadband network.SIP trunking is great for any sized company. It can send digital signals to another SIP trunk or go through your provider’s network to send to a traditional landline.Device with a speaker, microphone, and internet connectivity, Broadband network, SIP provider
Hosted / Cloud PBXHosted or Cloud PBX allows users to make video or voice calls over public or private IP networks.Hosted VoIP is a great solution for small businesses and large corporations. All maintenance is done by the provider and requires minimal equipment. VoIP provider, Device with a speaker, microphone, and internet connectivity, Broadband network/Mobile data
Managed IP PBXManaged IP PBX is like a hosted PBX in that it’s provided by a third-party vendor. However, the phone hardware is housed on-premises by your business.This is a good option for companies who want more control over their VoIP systems. However, it does incur installation costs and maintenance expenses. IP PBX box, Router, LAN Switch, Telephones, Computers

Advantages and challenges of Voice over IP

Any good business decision comes from weighing the costs and rewards. While we know that VoIP leverages the best technology to provide the most state-of-the-art VoIP calling features, you shouldn’t take our word for it. Take a look at some of the advantages and challenges of using VoIP.

Advantages of Voice over Internet Protocol

Helps build a unified communications strategy

VoIP is an essential part of a unified communications strategy. That’s one of the greatest benefits of VoIP.

Using VoIP as a part of your unified communications allows your business to collaborate and communicate more efficiently. Many VoIP providers, like 8x8, offer important integrations that allow you to get all of your communications in one place.

Another great feature of VoIP is that it allows for audio, video, and SMS messaging and chat functions built into the telephone service. With a solution like 8x8, you can be well on your way to a solid unified communication system.

Cost-effective

Unlike traditional telephone services, VoIP doesn’t require any specialized equipment or maintenance. Especially if you have a growing business, you may have to pay for additional phone lines. This requires expensive copper wiring and installation costs.

However, with VoIP you can take advantage of cost savings from day one, because you don’t need any extra equipment to use it. Plus, you only have to pay for the lines you need. VoIP services also save you money by offering unlimited long-distance calling and affordable international calls.

Use any device

With VoIP, you no longer have to feel tied to your desk phone. You can use any device that has:

  • A speaker
  • A microphone
  • Internet connectivity

Let’s see what your options are for making and receiving calls with VoIP.

IP phones

IP phones look like your analog telephone. The only difference is that it connects directly to your ethernet cable instead of traditional phone lines. They also give you access to advanced calling features like call routing, call recording, caller ID, and voicemail.

Softphones

Softphones use your other internet-enabled technology to make and receive VoIP calls. Softphones can be installed on:

  • Cell phones
  • Desktop computers
  • Laptops
  • Tablets

When you’re using a softphone, you can use your business phone number wherever you are. You can download the VoIP app to access all the calling features you need. A desktop app allows you to manage calls from the comfort of your desk. A mobile VoIP app also allows you to have a single cell phone for work and personal use without giving out your personal phone number.

Current desk phone

If you already love your regular phone, you can keep it when you switch to VoIP. All you need is an Analog Telephone Adapter (ATA) and you can connect your old desk phone to your VoIP service.

Accessible

Another advantage of VoIP is that you can make calls anytime, anywhere, as long as you have sufficient bandwidth. This makes VoIP your most accessible option when it comes to modern internet telephony. Advanced features are also made accessible anywhere, like:

  • Call routing
  • Voicemail
  • Voice-to-text transcription
  • Scalability: The ability to add and remove lines with the click of a button

Challenges of VoIP

While VoIP has a lot of advantages, there are some challenges you may encounter while using VoIP. Let’s consider a few of them.

Dependent on internet access

Because VoIP uses the internet to make and receive calls, it is vulnerable to internet outages. Before you switch to VoIP, make sure your bandwidth is high enough to support high-quality calls. If it isn’t, call your internet provider to see where the problem stems from. You may have to upgrade your router or have the company replace the ethernet cables.

You can also use 3G/4G/5G/LTE cellular network or public WiFi for your IP telephony. However, if you are using mobile data, you must ensure you have enough data allowance and that you will be using your mobile app in a place with sufficient mobile reception.

Devices need a sustained power source

One downside of not using traditional phone lines is that you need a sustained power source to make and receive calls. This may be a concern, especially if you need to make a call to emergency services during that period. However, most people bring cell phones to work and calls to 911 are always free.

Speaking of cell phones, you can always use mobile data during a power outage. However, making high-quality audio and video calls consumes a lot of power. So, if your internet is out during a power outage and you try to use your mobile phone, its battery may not last as long as you need it to.

In certain conditions, VoIP can have problems with voice latency. This disruption in voice signal quality can be caused by:

  • The load on your broadband network
  • The reliability of your internet service
  • Fluctuations in the throughput capacity

Top VoIP phone system features

The greatest advantage of VoIP is all the system features that come with it. Here are some features that make VoIP technology second to none when it comes to telephony solutions.

Desktop and mobile apps

When you use hosted PBX or other communications systems based on VoIP, they often come with both a mobile and desktop application.

For example, 8x8 Work provides everything you need in a single app. These apps allow you the freedom to switch between your desktop and iPhone. It also allows you to seamlessly move from an audio call to video to sending instant messages on the chat.

These apps are also the engine of unified communications. Your integrations and telecommunications are all available to you in a single place, wherever you are.

HD call quality

When you make calls with VoIP, you are only limited by the speed of your internet. Because audio data is delivered through the internet, you can have HD call quality on every call. It makes your phone calls clear and reliable.

Many VoIP headsets and handsets have noise-canceling capabilities to make sure that your customers aren’t distracted by background noise.

Call forwarding

With VoIP, you can take advantage of call forwarding even outside the office. When someone is unavailable, the call can be forwarded based on rules set out by the user or the manager. You can have it go to a single teammate all the time. However, you can also set up different rules to accommodate various scenarios.

Call recording

Within a communications system built upon VoIP, you can record every phone conversation in real-time for outbound and incoming calls, if you desire. These recordings can be used for training, resolving customer complaints, regulation compliance, and tracking metrics like customer satisfaction.

These recordings are often available in both voice and text forms. This makes it easy to look over call data.

Auto-attendant

Auto attendants allow your callers to interact with an automated voice menu to deliver them a customized caller experience. With 8x8, you can define your VoIP voice menu, set up schedules and rules, and set up professional greetings for your company.

Not only does this route calls efficiently, but it also allows you to free yourself of having a dedicated receptionist. Instead of answering and routing phone calls, this team member can focus on other tasks with higher ROI potential.

Other important features

  • Call routing: Call routing ensures that every call makes it to where it needs to go.
  • Caller ID: Caller ID allows you to see who’s calling. If your VoIP is integrated with your CRM software, you can also overview customer insights before picking up the phone.
  • Voicemail to email: Have you ever wished you could just get your voicemails as an email? Well, now you can.
  • Video conferencing: Video conferencing allows you to meet with your team or clients face-to-face, even if they’re a country away.
  • Top-level encryption: Rest easy knowing that your phone calls are secure. Because VoIP uses enterprise-level encryption and VoIP security, it’s one of the most secure ways to make a phone call.

How to choose a business VoIP provider

Look towards reputation

You want a VoIP provider that has a reputation for excellent call quality and security, with the best in customer service. Look at customer reviews and the security information on their website. You want to make sure that the provider you choose has strong high-level encryption.

Also, because your VoIP provider manages your system, you want to make sure they have great resources available to you. Make sure they are easy to contact and a joy to work with.

Consider the pricing and plans

Make sure you look at pricing for each provider’s individual plans. The cheapest option isn’t necessarily the best and neither is the most expensive. Consider the overall value for the price. This means looking at factors like calling features, support, and reliability.

You also want to make sure the company you choose has transparency in their pricing. There should be no surprises on your phone bill once you commit to a specific provider. Typically, you’ll have a set price per user and you want a service that allows you to add or remove users at little to no set-up fees.

Collaboration tools

When you’re looking into VoIP, you should be considering a lot more than just how well the provider delivers on voice calling. The service should also offer a variety of collaboration tools that your team can use to work together. Some tools include SMS messaging, video conferencing, and online meeting tools.

Integrations

Integrations are a vital aspect of modern communication. Connecting disparate apps prevents data and communication silos, and keeps your company running and collaborating efficiently. Your chosen VoIP provider should have the integrations you need or the option to create your own. VoIP services can allow you to integrate your own software using APIs.

With 8x8, you can integrate with APIs or choose from our long list of integrations that are already tried and tested. These integrations include:

  • Salesforce
  • Microsoft Teams
  • Google Workspace
  • HubSpot
  • NetSuite
  • And many more!

Conclusion

VoIP is a great solution for small businesses and large corporations. Because it leverages the power of the internet, it can seamlessly fit into our digital lives. It comes with advanced calling features and integrations that support a unified communications strategy.

8x8 embodies what VoIP is meant to be with the most advanced and reliable services on the market. We have all the advanced features and integrations you need to allow your business to work and communicate effectively.

If you want to learn more, speak to one of our team members today!

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

Do I need to invest in special VoIP phones?

No! You don’t need any special IP phones to make or receive calls. You can use your old desk phone (with the help of an adapter), your Apple or Android device, or your computer. IP phones are great if you are looking to invest in new desk phones that will help you make the most out of your VoIP service, but they’re not required.

Can I keep my current business phone number?

Yes. You can easily move your old number to your new service. 8x8 and many other providers offer simple toll-free and local number portability as a part of your service. Also, if you’re looking to change your number, you can choose a custom number that fits your new business.

Do I need a computer to make a call?

No. All you need is a stable internet connection and a device that is able to make and receive calls.

I travel for work, can I take my phone with me?

Yes! As long as you have access to an internet connection, you can continue to make and receive calls wherever your journey takes you. This includes anywhere in the country and internationally. You don’t have to pay for international calling when you make calls home when you are traveling outside the country.