Small Business Basics | Voice over IP (VoIP)

Keeping your employees connected to people and information any time, anywhere is a big challenge and something we’ve already covered before on the blog. After that post, we had an enquiry from someone who wanted to know more about the technology behind mobile working, specifically voice over internet protocol (VoIP).

VoIP has traditionally been the plaything of large enterprises. And, if you look online for business cases of small businesses that have benefited, you’ll be pushed to find something you can relate to.

Small Business Basics | Voice over IP (VoIP)

However, don’t be put off. New developments have made the technology more affordable and there are some very obvious benefits that appear to get overlooked. We’ll take a look at these today, but first a quick explanation of the technology behind the name.

What is VoIP?

The most basic explanation I can give is that VoIP is the method of using the internet to run your phone system instead of a typical public switchboard phone line.

How does it work?

A handset or headset is connected to your IP network via a VoIP routing device that converts the regular telephone voice signal to a digital one. When a voice call is started, your voice is encrypted by the VoIP device and a data packet is created so it can be transmitted over your internet connection. The data packet is then picked up by the destination VoIP equipment where it is converted back and can be heard by the receiver.

How will it benefit me and my business?

When you switch to a small business VoIP system, you’ll increase productivity by combining and simplifying your communication tools. Your voice and data networks will also be more secure because they are combined and more resilient than traditional systems. However, some of the most significant benefits come in the form of savings on call and line charges.

A good place to start when evaluating your need for VoIP is to answer the following questions:

  • How much are your phone bills per month?
  • How many of the calls are to mobile phones?
  • How many lines do you think you have? And, how much rental do you pay for this?
  • How many lines do you really have?
  • What is the maximum number of lines in use at any time?

The benefits you can expect from a VoIP system include:

  • Dramatically cheaper call charges for long distance and calls to mobile
  • Reduced travel costs by using web and video conferencing (and other collaboration tools)
  • Easy to use call manager systems that make it easy to add, move, or change phone connections to accommodate a growing and increasingly mobile workforce
  • An abundance of professional features (including voicemail, caller ID, and call forwarding – without having to pay extra fees)

Depending on your bandwidth, most internet connections should be more than sufficient to support VoIP services. However, one consideration to make is with regard to the sockets via which you connect to the internet. After about ten years these need replacing to ensure they offer the most reliable connectivity.

If you opt for a VoIP system, it’s often the case that your customers will notice the change first. They’ll be able to reach your employees, without getting frustrated by lengthy phone system menus, annoying generic hold music or by being sent to voicemail. Your employees will benefit by having more ways to stay connected, wherever they are and hopefully by happier customers too!

Gordon



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