Ask Tech Effect: What Is VoIP?
A lot of IT vendors offer a service known as VoIP. They mention that it stands for Voice over Internet Protocol, but chances are, that hasn’t made things any clearer.
When you think voice over the Internet, the first thing that comes to mind is a chatting software such as Skype. But since software like Skype is free, you might wonder why on earth you would pay a company to install VoIP when you could just install Skype for free.
But clearly, VoIP can’t just be Skype, because no one would buy it and no company would be silly enough to sell a free product. So what is it, and what can it do for your company?
What Is VoIP?
Voice over Internet Protocol has more to do with your phones and its connection to the Internet rather than your voice.
This can be quite misleading because you think anything to do with phones would have the word “phone” but VoIP has none of that. You might say it doesn’t have “tele” in the name, but VoIP is also known as Internet telephony.
VoIP connects your phones to your Internet connection, which lets you manage your phone services through the Internet instead of using a traditional phone company.
Just like how your voice is converted into signals that are transmitted over a phone line, VoIP converts your voice into a digital signal that the Internet can read and transmit. The only difference here is that you’re not using the phone lines of a company, but the Internet.
Even though the signal medium is different, VoIP calls are no different from those made with a traditional phone.
Why Would I Use VoIP?
When you use the Internet for your phone connection, you don’t use the phone company’s service. This means your phone costs are now bundled in with your Internet payments, putting everything towards one expense.
If you have a fast Internet connection, your phone connection will be just as effective and will benefit from the connection speeds. Because your calls are made over the Internet, and not through a traditional landline, your costs would be much cheaper than subscribing to a normal phone service.
Making international calls is also easier now as you don’t have to make calls across phone lines and country borders. You make it over the Internet, which is country-neutral and costs the same amount of money that you pay to access the Internet anyway.
The cost of a VoIP system will also depend on your needs. Of course, if you only needed it for casual chats, you’d be fine with something like Skype. But if you need more out of your phone system, then it will cost you. Thankfully, you can adjust this to your needs as they change over your business life.
It also doesn’t require any new infrastructure to install, as your company already has a broadband connection. This means you won’t have to pay for new installation fees as it works straight out of your pre-existing Internet subscription.
Your employees can also benefit from VoIP by connecting their mobile phones and/or devices with the system, which can notify them of messages that were left on the system, as well as allow employees to make company calls from their devices, as they just need the Internet connection to do so.
That’s Fantastic, So I Should Definitely Get One?
Almost every company that offers to install a VoIP service will tell you that you definitely need one. But with every positive, there’s a negative. VoIP is no different.
VoIP is dependent on your Internet connection. That might seem obvious when that’s the whole point, but this means if your Internet connection fails for any reason, you won’t be able to make or receive calls.
If your Internet connection is very poor, the signals received and sent will be poor as well, resulting in unclear information. You may have to upgrade your connection before installing VoIP which will cost more, and that’s also assuming that you have the infrastructure and cost to improve the connection.
Your Internet connection works by providing all your users with equal access to the Internet. Bandwidth is allocated to each user depending on how they use the Internet. This is already used for tasks such as accessing the Internet, sending emails, downloading and other related tasks.
Adding VoIP to that mix means there will be more resources required to sustain a fast connection, and depending on everyone’s Internet usage, you could experience a slowdown across all your Internet services, not to mention poor call quality as signals are now harder to send.
Sometimes, emergencies happen and you will need to call emergency services. But some VoIP providers don’t provide you emergency call services as it wasn’t something that they are obligated to provide. While providers are now doing their best to provide this, not everyone is doing so, so you should check before you work with a provider if it’s something that is vital to your job.
The big issue with anything Internet-related is security. When you’re sending calls through a phone line, they stay with the phone line and companies. But when you send calls through the Internet, they get translated into information the Internet can read.
This also means it’s possible for people to access your calls and extract information from it, as nothing in the Internet is ever truly “private” if people know how to access it. You also have problems such as viruses, scams and other familiar Internet issues that you wouldn’t see in a traditional phone line.
Is VoIP Right For You?
Chances are, you’re already using some sort of VoIP already. Skype was one of the more prominent examples, but apps such as WhatsApp and Viber show you how common VoIP is in our lives already.
Of course, your business may require a bigger VoIP solution that is configured to your needs. It’s always better to contact a professional company to find out what system works best for you.
But now that you know what a VoIP system is, you can make an informed decision about whether it’s right for you and understand what companies are talking about when they mention VoIP.
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