You may have heard the term VoIP in the office or just come across it on the web and never really understood what it means. You may know it’s used for communication or similar to a phone call, but understanding what VoIP is could help you decide if it’s something you could use at work or even in your personal time. Here’s a quick guide to VOIP, so that you’ll know what it’s for and if it could be useful for you.
What is VoIP?
VoIP stands for Voice over Internet Protocol. What that means is VoIP is a form of internet Telephony or simply internet calling. VoIP is an alternative to traditional phone call methods and can be extremely cheap or even free. Actual phones or handsets aren’t needed for VoIP as calls can be made over headsets or any kind of microphone.
VoIP has a number of advantages for individuals as well as businesses. While cost is a huge plus with VoIP there are some disadvantages or factors to consider before making VoIP your main source of communication. Regardless of if you decide to use the technology, VoIP is rapidly growing and a popular trend of modern society.
How does it work?
VoIP phones work by converting analog signals, like those used for phone calls, into digital data. The data is then packaged into little packets and sent across the internet to the receiver. The data is then reconverted by the receiver who simply hears a phone call and doesn’t notice any differences. Major phone providers have quickly begun switching to VoIP systems as it is very cost effective. Standalone companies have also popped up specializing in VoIP phone systems to replace typical land lines.
Advantages of VoIP.
The biggest advantage of VoIP is that data is sent across the internet using simple internet protocols. What this means to users is that VoIP is often times free or costs as little as regular internet access. Traditional land lines or cell phone systems require subscriptions and payments to maintain connectivity, whereas VoIP can be done from anywhere as long as you have an internet connection.
For business purposes, VoIP can be an extreme cost saver. Businesses that use a lot of phone lines can now remove the need for multiple lines and simply use a VoIP program. Long distance calls are also no longer an extra cost as VoIP costs are only determined by your internet connection and not the distance to whom you are calling. Scalability is also a plus with VoIP as little to no additional hardware is required and the number of calls that can be added is limited only by your internet connection speed. Integration is simple as VoIP works either computer to computer, computer to phone, or with a special VoIP phone that can call anything.
Disadvantages of VoIP.
The single biggest disadvantage of VoIP is that call quality is determined by your internet connection. This means a poor internet connection may not be fast enough to support a voice call. Likewise, if your internet connection should ever go down, you would be unable to make phone calls. This can be hazardous in emergencies such as power outages that will knock down your internet, but not disable analog phone lines. Even those with high bandwidth connections will need to have low latency or high speeds so that calls sound clear and do not break up.
While VoIP does rely on a solid internet connection, the advantages in terms of cost, flexibility, and quality make it a serious contender as a replacement for traditional analog phones.