What Kind of VoIP Equipment Do I Need?
Voice over IP (VoIP) can use a variety of different types of phone equipment. You can keep existing analog phone equipment, use IP (Internet Protocol) phones or call from computers using a headset. VoIP works by sending voice communications over the Internet, so you will also need a means of getting online. Since you can use traditional phones, you may need a device to translate phone communications into the discrete digital packets of information that VoIP uses.
You may need:
- Computers–You can use an online interface to manage your VoIP system. If your system integrates with software such as customer relationship management (CRM) software, you may also need a computer to fully take advantage of these features. You may also need a computer to place calls, if you choose that option instead of another phone.
- IP Phones–These phones have the software and hardware necessary to place VoIP calls through your account.
- Traditional Phones–You can call with your old landline phones if you have the right adapter.
- Analog Telephone Adapters (ATA)–With an ATA, you can use a traditional phone with your VoIP service.
- Internet Connection Equipment–Depending on the type of Internet connection you plan on using, you may need a Wi-Fi router, fiber optic connection, cable or some other broadband Internet connection for the highest quality phone calls.
With the right equipment, you can begin using your VoIP account quickly. If you are unsure of what equipment you may need, we can help you choose a VoIP provider who can provide guidance. In this article, we will talk about some of the different types of equipment available on the market for VoIP calls and how to choose the right products.
To some extent, the equipment you choose will depend on your vendor. Not all vendors allow every type of VoIP equipment available. You should wait until you have already chosen a vendor before purchasing equipment, just to be absolutely sure you have the best phones, adapters and connection. If you ask the right questions, your vendor can provide additional ideas and suggestions.
In this article:
- Types of VoIP Equipment
- Renting vs Buying VoIP Equipment
- Choosing the Best Equipment for Your VoIP Service
- Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) Services
- VoIP Equipment Tips and Tricks
1. Types of VoIP Equipment
Several different types of VoIP equipment are available, along with many different brands and a variety of different models. VoIP service vendors differ in the equipment they are willing to accept for use, but many services will even allow you to bring your own device (BYOD) or use traditional phones. Of the equipment you may need, there are also different categories and equipment functions.
If you use a traditional phone, you will need an ATA. These devices translate voice into data for recipients and data back to voice, so that your landline phone understands the information and is capable of processing it. ATAs are often available directly from your VoIP vendor. Some vendors have their own custom ATA device they expect you to use while you use their services.
IP phones are already capable of handling VoIP calls. They are also usually designed to look very similar to traditional landline phones. Some designs resemble office phones that may already be familiar to you. With IP phones, you do not need to buy or rent an ATA. These phones are ready for use with your VoIP account.
You may bring your own device, in some instances, so you would not necessarily need to buy new equipment when you obtain VoIP services for the first time or switch to a new provider. Your vendor may require you to use devices from a specific list, but if they do not have required devices, then you can possibly use your own.
2. Renting vs Buying VoIP Equipment
Some VoIP vendors require you to lease equipment from them, while others encourage you to buy your own. Your vendor can probably recommend several good options for your business if you ask. Buying your own equipment may save you money in the long run, although there are vendors who include a low-cost or free rental in their pricing. If you choose to quit or switch VoIP services for some reason in the future, you may be required to return your rental equipment. Purchasing equipment does give you the opportunity to use it later with another vendor.
Many vendors choose a recommended list and only offer technical support for products from that list, which is something to keep in mind if you plan to use technical support services. If you use a device that is not on the list, you may need to obtain your own independent support if problems arise.
Rent or Buy?
- Rent–Get great equipment without worrying about purchasing it or finding a use for it later. You cannot bring it with you.
- Buy–Own your equipment. This may cost more, however.
3. Choosing the Best Equipment for Your VoIP Service
To choose the right equipment for you, consider your needs. Here are a few key questions to ask:
- What are my needs? Do I want headsets or traditional phones?
- Do I need to keep phone costs as low as possible, or can I splurge on state-of-the-art products?
- What does my vendor recommend?
- Does my vendor provide technical support service for this particular brand, model, etc?
- Will my vendor help me install this equipment, or am I on my own?
- What do my employees (or whoever will primarily use the phones) think of this equipment?
- What is the learning curve on this particular VoIP setup? Is this equipment too complicated or too simple for what I need?
From there, you should generate some useful answers to get you started on the process. You should strive for the right balance of each of these factors as you consider your choices. If you have the end users of your phones provide some input, that can also help you choose phones that are easy enough to use and powerful enough to accomplish daily tasks.
4. Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) Services
A BYOD vendor allows you to choose any SIP enabled phone, generally speaking, and use it with their services. Most BYOD providers place few limitations on the types of phones you can bring and begin using with your account. These vendors are fairly popular with the many businesses that already invested in phones or want to deploy a specific technology and need a compatible service.
Keep in mind, though, that it is impossible for every technical support agent to be completely knowledgeable about every device available on the market today. As such, many BYOD companies do not offer full technical support for every product. If you choose a BYOD vendor and need support for your products, be sure to arrange for those services independently.
5. VoIP Equipment Tips and Tricks
- You may save money on used equipment, but review it carefully for compatibility with your VoIP service and make sure it has the capabilities you need.
- Consider an upgrade if you have consistent quality problems and your vendor recommends trying new equipment.
- If you provide your own service to your phones and decide to try fixing broken equipment, you may mistakenly void manufacturer warranties.
- Replacing all your equipment may not be necessary–sometimes just getting new headsets will help.