Be aware, however, that there are significant security implications regarding the use of mobile softphones on employee-owned devices. While it's possible for your employees to simply download the appropriate software from their respective app store, your IT department should be involved with allowing access while also confirming that necessary security steps are taken. Also be aware that there are important reasons not to allow soft phone installations on private devices of any type because you may not be able to remove that phone client if the employee leaves the company, and because local laws may impact how much control you have over the use of the device.
A business phone system helps you to present a professional image to your customers. If you do not have a need for office phones or spend the money, you can still use a virtual phone system to project a professional look. This enables you to place a call directly to a mobile phone. It also has key features like voicemail transcription and automated attendants.
However, for many businesses there's a need to route calls to the PSTN and other analog phones that might remain in use, too. This may mean a PSTN gateway, or even a hybrid PBX, where there's at least a small telephone switch located on-site. Note that these days, a PBX looks exactly like the other servers in your data center, except with an attached means of handling local and analog phones. Many small businesses, however, are avoiding on-premises PBXes partially due to cost savings and partially because the capabilities offered by all-cloud systems are more than advanced enough for their needs. Some virtual cloud PBXes can handle PSTN connectivity without on-site hardware requirements.
Because of the bandwidth efficiency and low costs that VoIP technology can provide, businesses are migrating from traditional copper-wire telephone systems to VoIP systems to reduce their monthly phone costs. In 2008, 80% of all new Private branch exchange (PBX) lines installed internationally were VoIP. For example, in the United States, the Social Security Administration is converting its field offices of 63,000 workers from traditional phone installations to a VoIP infrastructure carried over its existing data network.
The service's we detail below, however, aren't triple play providers. Every service detailed here is an independent residential VoIP provider that you can use over any broadband internet connection. But while that means their pricing is probably somewhat more transparent than in a triple play scenario, some of them do still obscure the real number you'll wind up paying. This can happen in several ways.
The steps and principles involved in originating VoIP telephone calls are similar to traditional digital telephony and involve signaling, channel setup, digitization of the analog voice signals, and encoding. Instead of being transmitted over a circuit-switched network, the digital information is packetized and transmission occurs as IP packets over a packet-switched network. They transport media streams using special media delivery protocols that encode audio and video with audio codecs and video codecs. Various codecs exist that optimize the media stream based on application requirements and network bandwidth; some implementations rely on narrowband and compressed speech, while others support high-fidelity stereo codecs.
BYOD stands for bring your own device. This term refers to employees conducting company business on personal laptops, tablets, and phones instead of on company-owned gear. Most VoIP companies offer BYOD features and solutions within their plans, either included or at additional cost. However, extra IT security layers and company guidelines for BYOD are on you.
Voicemail routing can take multiple forms, but they're basically rules you can apply to incoming calls that will automatically route them to voicemail without even causing a ring. For example, if calls come in with Caller ID blocked, those can be routed directly to voicemail. Or if you're simply not into talking to anyone, you can hang out a digital Do Not Disturb sign and route all calls to voicemail, perhaps until you're feeling more social or every day between the hours of 9 PM and 7 AM.
VoIP can be used for free with computers and even, in some cases, with mobile and landline phones. However, when it is used to completely replace the PSTN service, then it has a price. But this price is way cheaper than standard phone calls. This becomes thrilling when you consider international calls. Some people have had their communication costs on international calls cut down by 90% thanks to VoIP.
Mass-market VoIP services use existing broadband Internet access, by which subscribers place and receive telephone calls in much the same manner as they would via the public switched telephone network (PSTN). Full-service VoIP phone companies provide inbound and outbound service with direct inbound dialing. Many offer unlimited domestic calling and sometimes international calls for a flat monthly subscription fee. Phone calls between subscribers of the same provider are usually free when flat-fee service is not available.
The products and services in this review roundup are focused on business use and because of this either provide some PBX features or serve as full-on virtual PBXes. This may mean, among other things, that they provide service to telephone sets on your employees' desks. Most also support electronic faxing in some fashion, either directly (which can be a significant challenge for some VoIP services) or by simply integrating an incoming fax with your email system. Other popular features are video conferencing and shared meeting software (so meeting attendees not only hear each other but can present presentations or documents in a shared work space).
Ooma advertises only two plans: Ooma Office and Ooma Office Pro. Ooma Office includes unlimited domestic calls, three-way calling, virtual fax machines, plus most of the industry-standard features you’d expect from a leading private branch exchange (PBX) provider. Meanwhile, Ooma Office Pro offers more premium features, including call recording and enhanced call blocking—to name a few. But with either plan, you’ll have to pay a $29.95 one-time activation fee to get your service started.
That situation is for fairly pristine network and business conditions, however. Companies with legacy equipment or unique business needs may need a hybrid PBX, in which a portion of the voice network remains in the analog world, while the rest is converted to cloud-based VoIP. This could happen if you occupy an older building without the necessary Ethernet infrastructure to support VoIP or if you had custom software built a long time ago that simply isn't compatible with newer phone technologies.
VoIP service providers offer many highly advanced, next generation calling, texting, video, and conferencing features. Often these features are included, and are valuable assets every step of the way throughout your specific communication needs. Traditionally, many of the calling features now included with VoIP phone services were exercised by a human being operating a switchboard. Directing call traffic appropriately is vital to the success of any business. With Voice Over IP solutions, many of them are customizable to put your business at the pinnacle of efficiency and professionalism. Network features are designed to make sure your business never misses a beat – keeping your infrastructure at the tip of your fingers at all times.
You've probably been offered a home VoIP solution several times already if you've got cable TV service or if you're getting your Internet access from one of the larger Internet Service Providers (ISPs). Outfits like those love offering voice as the third leg of a "triple play" sales pitch: Internet, TV, and phone. When you see those offerings, what you'll be buying is a VoIP-based phone service, though generally one with slightly fewer features than you'll get from a dedicated VoIP provider because the provider generally isn't focused on their VoIP product, but one of the other two.
On the early ARPANET, real-time voice communication was not possible with uncompressed pulse-code modulation (PCM) digital speech packets, which had a bit rate of 64 kbps, much greater than the 2.4 kbps bandwidth of early modems. The solution to this problem was linear predictive coding (LPC), a speech coding data compression algorithm that was first proposed by Fumitada Itakura of Nagoya University and Shuzo Saito of Nippon Telegraph and Telephone (NTT) in 1966. LPC was capable of speech compression down to 2.4 kbps, leading to the first successful real-time conversation over ARPANET in 1974, between Culler-Harrison Incorporated in Goleta, California, and MIT Lincoln Laboratory in Lexington, Massachusetts. LPC has since been the most widely used speech coding method. Code-excited linear prediction (CELP), a type of LPC algorithm, was developed by Manfred R. Schroeder and Bishnu S. Atal in 1985. LPC algorithms remain an audio coding standard in modern VoIP technology.
When shoppers ask which is the best VoIP service or who are the best VoIP providers, no two answers will ever be the same. Keep in mind, that the best service for one individual or business, might not be the most ideal for you. It’s all about finding a VoIP provider that can cater to your specific needs. Users should consider these factors when comparing VoIP providers:
A telephone connected to a land line has a direct relationship between a telephone number and a physical location, which is maintained by the telephone company and available to emergency responders via the national emergency response service centers in form of emergency subscriber lists. When an emergency call is received by a center the location is automatically determined from its databases and displayed on the operator console.
The security concerns of VoIP telephone systems are similar to those of other Internet-connected devices. This means that hackers with knowledge of VoIP vulnerabilities can perform denial-of-service attacks, harvest customer data, record conversations, and compromise voicemail messages. Compromised VoIP user account or session credentials may enable an attacker to incur substantial charges from third-party services, such as long-distance or international calling.
Similar to Ooma's residential service (below), AXvoice deploys its home VoIP with the help of an appliance, appropriately called the AXvoice Device, which sits between your home's phones and your Internet router. This device not only serves as a bridge between your old phones and the new VoIP service it also enables many of the advanced features that straight POTS bridges often don't address.
If you're wondering what you get with a softphone that you won't with a standard phone handset, then that depends on the service. Business-class softphones offer all kinds of features related to online meeting collaboration, call routing, multi-line conference calling, and more. From a residential VoIP perspective, you'll most often find video conferencing (though more and more this is becoming a separate product from most providers), a voicemail-to-text converter, detailed call records, and user controls for users other than yourself. Some services also offer faxing, text chat, and call metering so you can see how much you're spending.
Your IT staff will understand the basics of what needs to be done before a VoIP system can be selected and installed. That will include capacity testing on your current pipes and a thorough audit of your organization's network management capabilities to make sure they can support and secure the new flow of VoIP data. But for business-level users, selecting a phone system that will help them keep their various processes moving forward, especially the customer-facing ones, starts with understanding what VoIP really is.