What exactly is VoIP technology?
IP telephony, also known as Voice over IP (VoIP), is a form of telephone communication that utilizes the Internet Protocol (IP) for transmitting data. The IP protocol, responsible for data transmission, enables various types of data such as images, videos, text, and voice to be transmitted. VoIP specifically focuses on delivering voice services over IP, allowing telecommunications to take place over the Internet. It governs the reliability and latency of data transmission to ensure the quality of service (QoS) between multiple points in the virtual space..
How the service works
Now that we have understood the concept of IP telephony, let's explore its functioning. VoIP enables seamless communication between computers and smart devices by allowing them to identify one another and exchange voice messages with precision.
When you dial a VoIP number, the voice signal, which is initially in an "analog" form, is transformed into a digital signal. This digital signal is then transmitted over the internet. At the receiving end, the digital signal is received and converted back into an analog signal, allowing the voice messages to be heard. The VoIP phones or devices on both ends of the call are responsible for converting the analog signal to a digital format for transmission and then converting it back to analog for end-users to communicate effectively. This process of analog-to-digital and digital-to-analog conversion enables seamless voice communication over VoIP networks.
Advantages of VoIP telephony
- Cheaper infrastructure. Establishing a dedicated phone line incurs considerably higher costs compared to connecting an additional local network or utilizing Wi-Fi. With a dedicated line, you bear the expenses associated with the connection, while the software itself is usually readily available in the public domain at minimal or no cost.
- No specific configurations are necessary, as there are no particular requirements that need to be met.
- Mobile telephony. There is no requirement to acquire a softphone since the system enables you to use a regular landline phone that can be easily relocated without the need for additional configuration settings.
- Increased competition. The VoIP equipment and software market for Internet telephony is highly dynamic compared to traditional telephony. This results in a broader range of features and improved efficiency at a more affordable cost.
- The possibility of widespread use. Regardless of your location - be it at home, work, in a meeting, on the road, or even at the beach - VoIP communication remains unhindered.
Disadvantages of VoIP telephony
- Call quality. In certain scenarios, it is possible for the quality of the service to fall below the desired level. This can be influenced by factors such as connection speed, equipment quality, service level provided by the provider, and the destination of the communication. While an increasing number of users are content with the service, there are still occasional complaints regarding issues like background noise, interference, and delays.
- Dependence on the Internet. In order to ensure excellent voice call quality, it is essential to have a fast and reliable internet connection with ample bandwidth. Interruptions in the power supply can adversely impact communication quality, while network disconnections may result in signal loss. These issues can be highly frustrating both at home and in the office, causing inconveniences and disruptions.
- Difficulties with the multiple connections. In order to accommodate multiple concurrent connections in a corporate setting, a high-speed internet connection is indispensable. It is required for various tasks such as file downloads, software downloads, email communication, and responding to chat messages, among others. Numerous employees can simultaneously utilize the VoIP network. During peak hours, this can present challenges, as the call quality may dip below acceptable standards. Complicating matters is the inability to accurately predict which segment of the staff will be connected at any given time. Such a scenario can significantly hinder productivity. Minimizing risks entails reducing the overall network load.
- Electricity costs. Older devices draw power from a shared wire, allowing them to remain within the access range even when the electricity is cut off in the apartment. However, modern systems operate under different circumstances. Devices such as routers, modems, and others now require their own power source and need to be charged separately.
- Emergency calls. VoIP technology offers the advantage of being location-independent, but in certain situations, this can become a notable disadvantage. One major drawback is the inability to make emergency calls to rescue services. While some vendors have started to incorporate this feature, its absence from the majority of VoIP services continues to discourage customers.
- Safety. Like any technology reliant on the global network, VoIP is susceptible to common issues such as network failures, fraud, virus attacks, and spam. Additionally, addressing the "weak link" in the network can often be challenging or even impossible. Furthermore, not all service providers implement end-to-end encryption, which poses a potential security concern.
Best VoIP phone system features
1. Auto attendant
An auto attendant, sometimes referred to as an automated attendant or virtual receptionist, is a service that operates alongside a business phone system. Its purpose is to automatically respond to incoming calls and route them to the relevant person or department.
Certainly, many people have encountered and used such a feature when calling organizations. It often involves being prompted to press a specific button to reach a desired department. With a welcoming phone menu, an auto attendant serves as a valuable tool to create a sense of professionalism and enhance the caller's experience.
2. Call routing
Employees are not always confined to working from home or the office; some may travel or be out of town frequently. In situations where employees are without internet access, making calls through IP telephony becomes impossible. In such cases, relying on a traditional telephone line becomes essential to ensure high-quality communication.
To enable calls from IP telephony to reach a regular phone, a forwarding service is required. This service operates in a straightforward manner: if an employee is offline or unavailable, the call is automatically redirected to the phone linked to their account. This ensures that calls can still be received and attended to, even when using IP telephony.
3. Call queue
A call queue is a feature of a business phone system that manages and directs incoming calls. It is commonly used when calling a company, particularly to speak with a customer service representative, where callers are placed in a queue until a representative becomes available to handle their request. This feature ensures that calls are organized and efficiently handled, allowing customers to wait in line until they can be assisted by an appropriate staff member.
4. Caller ID
Caller ID is a widely used feature in phone systems that identifies incoming calls by displaying the name and phone number of the caller. This important feature enables individuals to screen calls, identify spam or unwanted calls, and answer with confidence when the phone rings. If your company does not currently have caller ID functionality, it is advisable to reach out to your phone provider to inquire about enabling this feature. Caller ID is often one of the initial pieces of information exchanged with prospective customers, partners, or affiliates, providing valuable identification and context for incoming calls.
Caller ID options can be classified into two categories: incoming calls and outbound calls.
For incoming calls, Caller ID displays the name and phone number of the person or entity making the call. This allows the recipient to see who is calling before answering the call.
On the other hand, for outbound calls, Caller ID enables the caller to determine what information is displayed on the recipient's phone when making the call. This can include the caller's name, phone number, or even a customized identifier associated with the business or organization.
Having separate Caller ID options for incoming and outbound calls provides flexibility and control over the information that is displayed to both parties involved in the call.
5. Recording of phone calls
The service is useful to monitor the professionalism of call center operators when communicating with customers, to find solutions to controversial situations. Are your employees handling calls with accuracy and expertise?
Call recording indicates areas where your team could do better. It's also safe, so only authorized individuals have access to it.
6. Statistics and analytics
In order to efficiently engage with clients, it is imperative for companies to analyze both incoming and outgoing calls. Traditional statements and billing methods prove challenging for this task, as they require hiring a dedicated specialist to navigate through the vast stream of data.
It is much easier to evaluate calls if the operator automatically collects and analyzes statistics:
- duration of conversations;
- the workload of each employee;
- distribution of calls by working day;
- sales funnel and call conversion.
How much does IP telephony cost
The cost of IP telephony services varies depending on the specific provider and their respective conditions. Typically, businesses are presented with two payment options:
- Per-minute billing without a subscription fee: The organization pays only for the actual duration of the calls made, without any additional monthly or recurring charges. The billing is based on the number of minutes used for each call, and the organization is billed accordingly after the calls have taken place. This payment model offers flexibility and cost-effectiveness as businesses only pay for the specific usage they incur.
- A tariff with a subscription fee: involves a fixed cost that includes a predetermined set of services. With this pricing model, the organization pays a regular subscription fee, typically on a monthly or annual basis, to access a specific range of services provided by the IP telephony provider. The subscription fee covers the included services, and organizations can make use of them within the agreed-upon terms without incurring additional charges for each individual call or usage. This type of tariff provides predictable costs and may offer additional features or benefits bundled with the subscription.
The second option is advantageous as it allows the company to select the specific services it requires and then choose a tariff plan accordingly. This flexibility enables the company to tailor the services and configuration of the plan to its unique needs. Whether it's selecting specific features or customizing settings, this individual configuration option provides the company with the flexibility to align the IP telephony services with its specific requirements, ensuring a more tailored and optimized solution.
To gain a comprehensive understanding of the total cost associated with VoIP, it is important to consider more than just the monthly subscription charge. The pricing of VoIP services can be influenced by various factors, including hardware and infrastructure costs, regulatory expenses, and applicable taxes. While the average price for VoIP services is typically around $35-40 per month, it's essential to note that the cost of equipment can vary significantly based on individual requirements and preferences. Therefore, when assessing the overall cost of implementing VoIP, it is necessary to consider both the recurring charges and any additional expenses related to hardware and infrastructure.
How to choose a VoIP provider
IP telephony services are offered by numerous operators, making it crucial to select a reliable provider. To make an informed decision, it's essential to go beyond comparing the cost of connection and subscription fees. Evaluating four key criteria can help in selecting the right provider:
Criterion No. 1. Connection protocol
IP telephony operates by converting the voice into IP packets, which are then transmitted through the network and subsequently transformed back into audible speech on the receiving end. This process ensures instantaneous and uninterrupted delivery of the voice signal. However, it is essential to have a high-speed internet connection to maintain the quality and reliability of the communication. With a robust internet connection, IP telephony offers clear and seamless voice transmission without any significant interference.
The quality and speed of packet transmission over the network are influenced by the connection protocol employed. In the case of IP telephony, the network's performance can be affected by factors such as the number of connections handled by the operator. When the network becomes overloaded due to a high volume of simultaneous connections, it can result in interference, delays, and even line failures, negatively impacting the quality of the communication experience. Therefore, it is important for operators to manage and allocate network resources effectively to minimize such issues and ensure optimal performance during peak usage periods.
The SIP (Session Initiation Protocol) protocol is considered one of the fastest and most advanced options for IP telephony. Its distinctive feature is the utilization of a combined connection, where the internet is interconnected with a wide-area network, allowing each packet to be transmitted through separate channels. Unlike other protocols, SIP does not impose limitations on the number of connections that can be established. As a result, calls made using SIP experience minimal interference, and delays, and maintain consistently high communication quality. The flexibility and scalability of SIP enable efficient and seamless voice transmission, ensuring a superior user experience.
Criterion No. 2. Network geography
Call rates can indeed vary for customers based on their geographical regions. To capitalize on this, businesses can benefit from using virtual landline numbers. The concept is straightforward: the customer dials a regular landline number and is charged according to the local tariff, while the company receives the call through IP telephony from any other region. This approach offers cost savings for customers as they pay local rates, while businesses gain the advantage of audience loyalty by providing this convenience. By leveraging virtual landline numbers, companies can enhance customer satisfaction and foster stronger relationships, all while optimizing their communication costs.
One significant challenge faced by many operators is the limited geographical coverage of their network. Consequently, having an extensive network that covers a wide range of cities is advantageous for both businesses and their customers. When an operator's network encompasses a larger number of cities, it allows businesses to expand their reach and cater to customers in various locations. This expanded coverage ensures that customers can access services more easily and enjoy reliable communication regardless of their geographic location. Therefore, well-developed network geography benefits both businesses and customers by enabling seamless connectivity and enhancing overall satisfaction.
Criterion No. 3. International cooperation
For entrepreneurs with a broad network of operations, it becomes necessary to work with clients beyond their local boundaries. In such cases, if an operator only covers 2-3 neighboring countries, international calls can be both costly and prone to poor quality.
To deliver high-quality communication at an affordable cost, it is essential for an IP telephony provider to establish active collaborations with national and international operators from various countries.
Criterion No. 4. Additional services
Meeting the needs of a business extends beyond providing high-quality communication alone. In order to fully support the operations of a company, an operator should offer additional services that enhance convenience and efficiency in communicating with customers.
Why does your business need VoIP telephony?
High-quality telephone communication plays a pivotal role in the success of a business. By adopting advanced Internet technologies, you not only unlock new opportunities but also simplify your operations and achieve substantial cost savings in communication. What used to necessitate purchasing and maintaining an on-site Private Branch Exchange (PBX) can now be achieved through Internet-based solutions and VoIP telephony.
Expand your business capabilities with virtual telephony by connecting landline numbers from various countries around the world, as well as mobile numbers and hotline numbers. Virtual telephony empowers businesses to establish a global presence and effectively communicate with customers across different regions. By obtaining local numbers in specific countries, businesses can create a local presence and build trust with their target audience. Additionally, virtual telephony enables the flexibility to route calls to mobile devices, ensuring that businesses can stay connected even while on the move. With a wide range of virtual telephony options, businesses can enhance their communication capabilities, improve customer service, and maximize their reach in both local and international markets.
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