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Dominick Fair

Chief Technology Officer

What Is VoIP and How Does It Work?

voip meaning

Landlines aren’t the future. The number of smartphone users is expected to reach 5 billion in 2019. 

The convenience of mobile phones has raised the standards of most consumers and businesses. A business can’t run exclusively on cell phones so many companies turn to services like VoIP for similar benefits.

Let’s explore the VoIP meaning and how it provides a variety of solutions for businesses looking to ditch their landlines. 

VoIP Meaning

The term VoIP stands for voice over internet protocol. VoIP is technology that allows you to use the internet to make and receive phone calls.

Broadband internet connections are required in order for the technology to work. VoIP services turn your conversation into a digital signal that travels over the Internet.

When you place a call to a phone, the signal converts from a digital signal, or data packets, into a telephone signal before it reaches the destination. There are special VoIP phones, but landline phones connected to an adapter are also good options for communication. 

Who Can I Call?

There are services that limit your calls to other VoIP users, but the most common service option allows you to call anyone with a telephone number. These telephone numbers can be local, long distance, mobile or international.

Services like Skype allow you to place free calls to other users anywhere in the world using phone or video. The most common option for VoIP services is placing a VoIP call to a telephone not using VoIP.

The VoIP service provider charges a fee for calls made outside your calling area. This calling area may include a region, area code or country code depending on your phone plan.

These costs are low in comparison to traditional landline calling plans. Payment options for VoIP phone calls include a flat rate for all long distance called for a fixed period of time or a charge per call. 

Some VoIP providers allow you to choose an area code outside your calling area. This gives you flexibility but means that callers in your area will incur long distance phone charges when calling you. 

Improvements in VoIP Technology

One major difference between using VoIP and a web or mobile app for making calls is that there is a guaranteed quality of service (QoS).

In the mid-1990s when VoIP services first arrived on the market, services were known for being choppy and dropping calls whenever the internet was interrupted or service was inconsistent. With QoS, services continue to improve with advances in technology. 

VoIP Equipment

The first need to use VoIP service is a broadband (high-speed Internet) connection. Your connection can be via cable modem, DSL, fiber or a local area network (LAN).

Once your internet connection is established you need a means of communication. In most cases, the communication device used to make calls is a computer, adaptor for an office telephone or a phone made specifically for VoIP.

VoIP services come with a wide range of features, but some are limited to when you use your computer or special VoIP phone to place calls. Expect to need a microphone when using your computer to place calls.

Your computer’s native mic might be sufficient, but an external mic gives you more flexibility. The VoIP service provider generally provides software to help you manage calls. 

The VoIP phone is almost the same in appearance as a traditional landline telephone. Instead of plugging into a hard-wired connection, however, the VoIP phones plug directly into your broadband connection.

Advantages of VoIP

One of the biggest advantages of VoIP is the flexibility of movement. Your business calls can be routed to anywhere you choose to work because they are received via the internet.  This means that wherever you have an internet connection, you have access to clients. 

A VoIP phone system also integrates with your other technology like email. Voicemails transcribe to text and get emailed directly to your inbox giving you the option to multitask.

Collaboration between employees is more efficient using VoIP features. Turn on auto-forward to distribute voicemails to up to three teammates or set up a conference call using a native line. 

Most service providers allow you to customize a package of features so that you don’t pay for more than you intend to use. This is a great benefit because it allows you more control over your budget by paying for only what’s needed.

Disadvantages of VoIP

A major disadvantage to VoIP is losing service in the event of a power outage or natural disaster. An internet-based service provider might not be in the same country as your business meaning there’s no physical way they could offer backup power to your system.

Also, American companies are not guaranteed access to 911 using a VoIP. This is critical to ensure all staff has access to emergency services when needed. 

Some VoIP services that require computer-based phone calls limit the speed of communication. When you need to make a last minute call before leaving the office, waiting for your computer to reboot before dialing out is a hassle.

VoIP Phone Calls

There is no major difference in placing and receiving VoIP phone calls when using a regular phone connected to an adaptor or a VoIP phone. The phone simply rings like a traditional telephone line.

Only VoIP service providers that require calls via computer experience a difference. In this case, the computer rings to alert you of incoming calls. 

FCC VoIP Regulations

The FCC regulates VoIP services. Since 2005, the FCC mandated that 911 be included with VoIP calls made within the United States using regular service providers like AT&T.

These services must comply with CALEA or Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act of 1994 and the Universal Service Fund which aims to support low-income telephone subscribers in high-cost areas. 

Communication of the Future

Advancements in technology seem to only provide more growth opportunities for VoIP users. Understanding VoIP meaning reveals that these services have far to go as internet services get stronger and faster.

Businesses can run call centers remotely and gain access to employee communication with ease. For more information on getting started with VoIP, visit our website.

Dominick Fair

Chief Technology Officer

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