Mobile phones on a VoIP PBX
Many people have become accustomed to using untethered phones all the time. They’d rather use their cell phone than a SIP phone with a cable to a VoIP PBX. They can have the best of both worlds by using their mobile phones on the office’s VoIP system.
One way to do this is with a VoIP application. A large selection of apps is available for this purpose. To work within an on-premises PBX, the app needs to act as a SIP client, and the PBX needs to have a Wi-Fi access point. A phone can also use its cell network connection to access the PBX over the public Internet, through a VPN.
Using a mobile VoIP phone simplifies connecting to an on-premises PBX. This is a phone designed for VoIP connections through a Wi-Fi access point, with no extra software needed. Currently only a few phones have this feature.
A hosted PBX is a better fit for use with mobile VoIP. People can access it through the public Internet, so they can use the cell network or Wi-Fi connections from anywhere. Hosting reduces the need for wireless access points in the office.
Quality of service (QoS) is more difficult to guarantee with a mobile Wi-Fi connection than with a phone using an RJ45 connector. Depending on the distance from the access point and the environment, the network connection may be intermittently degraded. Strategic positioning of Wi-Fi access points will minimize the problem, but if employees try to call from locations in the building that are far from the access points, they may have problems. This is another argument in favor of a hosted PBX.
[icon name=”fa-tablet” size=”65px” color=”#35c36f” link=””] Benefits of mobile VoIP
Employees gain several advantages from Mobile VoIP. They can use their favorite devices, and they aren’t tethered to their desks. They aren’t paying for their own minutes when making business calls. Their calls will show the business’s caller ID, and people will be able to call them on the business’s DID number or extension. They’ll be able to use all the VoIP functions on the PBX, including conferencing, call forwarding, and voice mail. While doing this, they can use the same phone for email and scheduling.
Using mobile VoIP also benefits the company. It can use fewer dedicated SIP phones if employees prefer to use their own. Employees are reachable even when they aren’t at their desks.
The combination of mobile VoIP and an on-premises PBX causes some complications, just as any BYOD policy does. The phones need to connect to the data network as well as the PBX; otherwise they won’t be able to do anything except make phone calls as long as they’re using the company’s access point. To let them connect from outside, the PBX needs to be accessible through a VPN.
Letting employees use their own phones on the PBX adds a security risk, since a business can’t control what people install on their personal phones they way it can control company equipment. If they’re coming in through a VPN, the phones have access behind the firewall, and if they’re carrying malware, they might access restricted systems and steal data or disrupt service. Phones with spyware might eavesdrop on confidential conversations and relay them to corporate spies. Any private network should run regular checks for unusual behavior and possible intrusions. When it allows personal devices, this is even more important.
With the necessary precautions, mobile devices can expand the usefulness of a business’s VoIP PBX. It can increase employees’ availability, reduce the need for cabling, and allow integration with mobile applications. It’s a growing part of voice communications, and it will keep growing.
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