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Voice Over IP - What, How and Why

What is Voice Over IP?

Voice over internet protocol (VoIP) is just that - sending voice calls over IP instead of analog lines.  The internet protocol is how data gets from one place to another over the internet.  When you search Google for how to tie a bow tie, the results come back to you over the internet protocol.  With internet bandwidth (DSL, cable, etc.) getting faster and more reliable, it is becoming more efficient and cost effective to send voice calls over these same networks.

How is it Implemented?

3 Types of VoIP

1) Hardware

Most newer telephone systems are based on voice over IP.  The term usually associated with the hardware is IP-PBX, signifying that the PBX (telephone system hardware) is IP based.  This solution is IP based at your site only.

  1. Easy to grow - IP systems are typically software-based and require less hardware investment for future growth

  2. Moves, Adds & Changes - ongoing maintenance of the system is simplified and can be managed by a user admin

  3. Infrastructure - If you have a computer network in place, you're likely good to go.  No additional cabling required.

2) Trunks

Voice over IP trunks carry the voice from your provider's location to your location using the internet protocol discussed earlier.  These trunks can be used with a converter on older telephone systems or installed on an IP-PBX to create an end to end IP solution.

  1. Cost Savings - The majority of the time, SIP/VoIP trunks are more cost effective than analog services.

  2. Flexibility - Call routing options make VoIP far more powerful than traditional services.

  3. Direct Inward Dial (DID) - Provide each employee, department, etc with a dedicated number for calls if you like.

3) Hosted PBX

Hosted PBX is a type of voice over IP where the features of a PBX are hosted by the provider and pushed to your location over the IP network.  Many small to medium sized business choose hosted services because they offer more features for the money in certain installations.

  1. Maintenance - All the benefits of a powerful IP-PBX, with no on-site hardware to maintain.

  2. No Experience Required - You won't need an IT staff or telephone guru to maintain your system.  Most management can be performed remotely.

  3. Simplicity - Equipment and services are bundled into one monthly rate, with low or no up front capital expenditures.

Why Should You Care?

There may be some instances where voice over IP isn't the best option.  But many businesses are seeing cost savings and enhanced features when choosing IP over traditional voice.  Maybe it's time to do some more research to see if you could benefit.

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