Smartphones with Built in VoIP Calling
The global VoIP services market is projected to expand at a compound annual growth rate of 9.87 percent between 2017 and 2021. This reflects an increase over previous estimates by Zion Research, which foresaw the $83 billion VoIP market to increase at a rate of 9.1 percent to reach $140 billion by 2021. With the growing demand for VoIP, many smartphones now come with built-in VoIP calling capability. Here’s a look at today’s built-in VoIP phone options for businesses:
Types of VoIP Phones
VoIP phones come in a few main varieties. Some VoIP phones have hardware specifically designed for VoIP use and may resemble traditional office desktop phones or wireless phones. Others, known as “softphones,” are software programs similar to Skype that can be run on a mobile phone, tablet or desktop computer. Traditional public switched telephone network (PSTN) phones can also be converted into VoIP phones by using an analog telephone adapter (ATA).
VoIP phones that are physically separate from computer networks connect to networks through two main outlets: USB and Power over Ethernet (PoE). PoE is considered preferable for PBX replacement systems and for call centers due to greater power support enabling a larger number of ports, longer cord range, simpler connections and a more scalable protocol.
For participants in a VoIP conversation to communicate, both ends must support the same VoIP protocol. Most providers use Session Initiated Protocol (SIP). Some such as Skype and Google Talk use proprietary protocols. There are also protocols for open-source softphone apps such as the Inter-Asterisk eXchange protocol (IAX).
Office VoIP phone users typically use a desktop phone resembling a traditional office phone with speaker phone capability, or they may use a softphone program on their computer or smartphone. Softphone users in call center environments typically carry on conversations through a headset or a computer microphone and speakers.
Some VoIP solutions are geared toward large enterprises. Others are suitable for a full range of businesses or geared toward small-to-medium-sized businesses. Smaller businesses are more likely to use cloud-hosted private branch exchange (PBX) than more expensive on-premise PBX hardware.
Business VoIP phones come in basic versions as well as varieties specialized for different job functions and business applications. There are specialized phones for executives, receptionists, conference rooms and mobile users.
Enterprise VoIP Solutions
Basic enterprise desktop phone solutions have a full duplex speakerphone, meaning that both parties can send and receive information so they can talk and listen simultaneously. Enterprise VoIP phones also include a full set of soft buttons, meaning button functions can be customized. Leading enterprise VoIP phones can support features such as intercom paging, where a paging message can be broadcast over the speakers of all phones in a network. Enterprise VoIP phones geared toward executives and secretaries may include color screens for video communication, Bluetooth support for wireless headsets, additional customizable buttons and additional features such as the ability to monitor other extensions, pick up another person’s phone or speed dial other people in the company. Enterprise conference VoIP phones have multiple speakers and microphones. Leading enterprise wireless VoIP phones use the Digital Enhanced Cordless Telecommunications (DECT) standard instead of Wi-Fi, since Wi-Fi does not prioritize voice information and therefore does not provide optimal quality of service (QoS) for VoIP calls.
Today’s leading enterprise VoIP providers are Cisco and Polycom. Other leading providers include Avaya, Mitel, NEC, Nortel, ShoreTel and TalkSwitch.
SMB VoIP Solutions
Basic features of SMB VoIP solutions include interactive voice response (IVR), call queuing, the ability to play music or audio for callers on hold, the ability to assign extensions, number porting to forward current business numbers, call recording and voicemail-to-email transcription. Most providers feature smartphone integration with third-party and customized apps, such as customer relationship management apps. Smartphone integration enables users to transfer calls to and from mobile phones and to combine voice communication with texting. Some providers offer hardware to connect on-premise PSTN phones to VoIP.
Leading SMB VoIP solutions include Nextiva, RingCentral, Vonage Business, 8×8 Virtual Office Pro, Dialpad, Fonality Hosted PBX, ShoreTel Connect Cloud, Citrix Grasshopper and Microsoft Skype for Business Online.