Voice Over IP (VoIP) has developed rapidly during the past two decades. It evolved from an obscure technology known by few into a reliable communication system widely used by businesses the world over. VoIP is very affordable, highly configurable and offers countless features and benefits for its users that go way beyond the capabilities of many antiquated on-premise phone systems, making the decision to switch to VoIP a no-brainer. If you haven’t already, read our ‘VoIP for Dummies – Part 1‘ first.
VoIP key features
Perhaps the main reason that the number of conversions to VoIP systems has seen such an increase over recent years is its flexibility. VoIP can be used with a wide array of devices aside from a standard desktop phone, such as a PC, laptop, tablet or mobile smartphone. The ease of redirecting calls or modifying call behaviour means you no longer need to stay in your office waiting for an important call if you need to be out and about. Your clients will be able to call your office number and reach you on whichever device you choose to use, regardless of your location, even if you are outside of the country. And on top of all this flexibility, you will most likely save a lot of money on your monthly bill. What’s not to like?
VoIP’s inherent flexibility has changed our perspective of what a telephone system can do. The way that voice is treated as data on an existing network has made a lot of new important features possible, such as video calling, CRM database integration, voicemail access from a computer, accessing data services such as email and web browsing from a VoIP phone, the ability to have theoretically unlimited concurrent calls without the need to increase the number of physical lines, and many more. Other features like monitoring, whispering, call barging and recording are designed to help business owners analyse and develop the performance of their teams and improve customer satisfaction.
VoIP can be integrated with many existing software packages to streamline business processes and boost productivity. It also provides a unified solution for businesses with multiple locations and facilitates remote working for many workers.
The list of the benefits associated with VoIP systems seems to be endless but, like any other technology, it has its downsides. Perhaps the biggest problem with VoIP is also its very best feature, which is that it is fully dependant on an Internet connection to function. This explains why it wasn’t as popular 10 years ago as mentioned in part 1 of this article. However, the past 5 to 8 years have witnessed a rapid growth in the availability of high-speed Internet and an increase in its stability which has facilitated the uptake of new web-based technologies by local businesses and played an important role in the feasibility of smart city initiatives. In fact, the Internet is now so embedded in our everyday life that it has become almost impossible for anyone to complete a day’s work without being connected in some way. In view of such fascinating developments, VoIP’s reliance on the Internet is less of a problem than ever and is no longer a legitimate worry for the vast majority of business owners.
A common misconception about VoIP is that you can’t dial 999 to reach the emergency services. People think this is because VoIP can be used from virtually anywhere and emergency services will, therefore, find it difficult to determine the location where the 999 calls are made. While this used to be true, all VoIP providers are now obliged to adhere to the Emergency Handling Services’ requirements which state that all outgoing numbers on a VoIP system must be registered to the business address in the same way a landline is. Upon calling 999, this address is then presented to the operator, making a VoIP solution from VIP VoIP fully compliant in this regard.
One more thing people usually worry about when switching to VoIP is the sound and video quality. Here’s what you need to consider: the amount of data generated by a standard VoIP call is very small and will barely impact your internet speed. However, if your current bandwidth is already overstretched with many users competing on the same connection, it is possible to experience some jittering during calls. There are 2 main approaches to remedying this issue. The first is to prioritise the VoIP traffic over all else on your network, meaning that VoIP traffic should be the last thing to suffer in the event of a lack of bandwidth. This option is usually the most cost-effective in the long run but generally requires a higher level of hardware which your business may need to invest in. The second option is to either increase the amount of bandwidth available on the line or simply install a dedicated broadband line solely for use by VoIP phones. This option offers the simplest setup and is by far the most fool-proof but is generally costlier in the long run and requires a second network switch to separate the phones from the rest of the network. However, for the vast majority of users, bandwidth related quality issues are not a problem.
Switching to VoIP – what about your old number?
We know how important it is for businesses to keep their existing telephone number as it has usually been ingrained as part of a company’s brand over many years and is known and trusted by their entire customer base. Losing this number would mean their contact details would need changing on all their stationery, advertisements, websites, online networks, flyers, business lists and emails etc, not to mention the possibility of losing countless clients in the process. This could prove very costly and time-consuming and would undoubtedly have a negative impact on sales and profit.
Numberite are most likely able to port any existing numbers into your new VoIP system, as long as you are the registered owner. The process usually takes around 7 to 10 working days. The only thing that you need to consider is that if your existing number is attached to a landline, the provider will most likely cease the line itself when the number is ported away, along with all its associated services such as your broadband connection. In this case, you’ll need to transfer these services to a new line before porting your number to the VoIP system. This might sound scary but we deal with this issue all the time and can help you get it sorted as quickly as possible. In the meantime, calls to your existing number can also be temporarily forwarded into the VoIP system until all the transfers are complete, meaning you don’t have to wait to take advantage of a new VoIP system.