What is VoIP, and what do I need to make it work?

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February 9, 2016 | Callum Douglas - Byrnes

What is VoIP, and what do I need to make it work?

What is VoIP and how does it work?

VoIP is a method of passing voice via a data network. This data network can either be the wider internet when you make an external call, or through your local network when you make an internal call.

In doing this the telephone calls don’t have to use the traditional phone companies network and this should deliver a higher degree of control to the user.

The most common VoIP protocol that is used today is SIP (Session Initiation Protocol).

What is required for it to work (internet connection, equipment etc.)

Here are the basics that are required for any business to move to IP Telephony:

  1. An ITSP or Internet Telephony Service Provider.
    They will give you access to use their network for the delivery and routing of calls that are made within your business. Their equipment will not be in your office and will normally be found in secure data centres in your country.
  2. You will need an internet connection.
    This works on the principle that the more users you have the bigger your internet connection will need to be. For SME clients across the majority of the UK this will be delivered via FTTC (Fibre to the Cabinet) technology that gives internet access speeds of up to 80Mb.
  3. IP Phones.
    These are phones that support VoIP/SIP technology. They are becoming the most common phones that are put in businesses. There are multiple manufacturers and on the whole they all do pretty much the same thing. As with all products they come with standard low cost variations right up to high end, high cost models. If you are unsure, start with the low cost and see what works best for you. A low cost phone will still have 90% of the features of a high end phone, you just may not get a colour screen, or touch screen functions and as many buttons.

How it can work for SME in different offices/buildings

If you have multiple locations across different buildings the IP telephony is ideal for this model.

At each site you will need internet connectivity and ip phones, but beyond that all the call routing and expected features such as voicemail, call routing, time of day routing are done within the ITSP’s equipment.

You will get online access to control your account which means that you can treat all your locations as one account and no matter what the location you can route calls to where they need to go at the push of a button.

You can send a call to an employee in location 1, London and then if they are busy and unavailable the call could be sent to a second employee in Manchester.

How does it keep prices so low?

Because you are not using the traditional telephone company’s network or equipment this will immediately reduce costs.

Secondly the infrastructure that you use for your local network is now also being used for your telephony needs.

No maintenance of local equipment, no specialist knowledge of phone systems and equipment is required.

Simple management via an online portal that can be accessed by either operational teams or accounts teams.

Calls between all users within the building are free, and calls between your locations are also free. On net calls to other companies using the same ITSP are also free.

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