Business VoIP – Is it worth it?
Voice over internet protocol (VoIP) was first invented in 1973 when the internet itself was new. It is not a new technology. In 1995 the first commercially available internet phone software, called Vocaltec appeared. The Vocaltec software compressed the voice signal from a microphone, translated the signal into digital packets and distributed the packets over the internet. It relied on microphones and speakers, not telephones. The software was limited. It only worked well if the caller and the receiver had the same hardware and software. The sound quality was also poor; but the transmission was essentially without cost. In 1995, broadband internet was not nearly as widely as available as now and restricted bandwidth very much limited the potential VoIP performance.
As the internet improved and bandwidth widened, the VoIP idea grew. In 1998, VoIP traffic represented 1% of all voice traffic in the United States. Hobbyists and entrepreneurs were creating new phone-to-computer connecting devices and phone-to-phone connections. By 2000, VoIP traffic amounted to 3% of all voice traffic.
Mass market VoIP telephony began in 2004 which saw the first VoIP calling plans. These system permitted subscribers to make calls just as they would with conventional equipment. The VoIP systems allowed inbound and outbound calling on telephone equipment and dialing. Calls offered unlimited domestic calls and flat rate calling to Canada and selected countries in Europe and Asia, avoiding the very high rates charged by conventional phone companies.
Now, as VoIP technology fully matures and high-speed internet has become the norm, especially in business, an increasing number of businesses are replacing landlines with VoIP systems. The top VoIP providers deliver calls to clients’ VoIP ready business telephones. Most of the nothing else is required.
Some businesses eliminate any ongoing costs by setting up a self-hosted on site VoIP system. They may have to invest in switching equipment (a VoIP version of a PBX) to route calls and a digital to analog converter.
Depending on the size of your company and the internet infrastructure you have already, jumping on the VoIP bandwagon could cost your company next to nothing. VoIP requires a high broadband internet connection. An ordinary home internet connection can handle 11 simultaneous calls even if the internet were functioning at the same time. In some cases, however, you have to be careful that you don’t exceed the bandwidth cap that some internet providers place on your internet use.
Most VoIP systems use session-initiation protocol (SIP) technology. If you want to continue using your old analog touch tone phones or fax machines, you will have to plug them into an analog telephone adapter and you won’t be able to use many of the advanced features.
With all that, VoIP is significantly less expensive than traditional phone services. You have much hardware to buy or lease, no internal switching equipment (unless you are setting up your own VoIP system). If you do need hardware, it is less expensive because it is based on standardized technologies such as SIP, as opposed to proprietary single provider products.
Low Monthly Costs and More Features:
Monthly subscription fees are in the range of 36% less expensive. Typically, VoIP providers have no contract as well. You may be able to manage with a single line residential VoIP service for as little as $5 per month. If you have employees in distant locations, most VoIP services provide those long distance services without charge. Many hosted (cloud based) VoIP services offer mobile apps that let you make and receive calls using your smartphone internet connection, rather than cell service.
Adding lines to a VoIP system is as easy as connecting a new VoIP enabled phone to the computer network. You don’t pay for extra lines and there are no installation costs. Most VoIP provide many extra services including conference calling, voicemail, internet faxing, virtual receptionists, call screening, and other functions.
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