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The Basics of VoIP Phone Systems

Image of voice and digital data transmitting as VoIP

Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) is a set of technologies that transmit voice and multimedia data as digital information over the internet. VoIP is an inexpensive, reliable and widely accessible alternative to traditional telephony systems that use the age-old Plain Old Telephone Service (POTS) technology. VoIP-enabled services have evolved from phone calls over an IP data network to a suite of real-time enterprise communication applications that streamline collaboration among business users.

Your voice is essentially an analog signal. With the original POTS system, a telephone’s microphone picks up your voice signal and converts it into an analog electrical signal. The electrical signal travels through copper wires, satellites and the communication infrastructure to the recipient’s telephone speaker, which turns the electrical signal back into voice information.

Both IP and traditional telephone systems rely on Session Initiation Protocol (SIP). The first phase of SIP is call setup—the process needed to get both phones connected, or “communicating” with each other. Next, the phones go to the data transfer phases of the call—which means transferring the voice data between two phones. SIP is flexible and highly useful in the world of VoIP, allowing communication between just two phones, or more advanced applications such as video conferences.

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With VoIP technology, the analog voice signal is first converted into packets of digital data representing the voice information. This data is transmitted over the internet or private IP networks to the recipient’s receiver, which turns the digital signal back into voice information.

A VoIP communication link can be established using dedicated VoIP devices, mobile devices and computers, as well as adapters that enable VoIP communication using POTS telephones. Unified communication systems that go beyond basic VoIP calling include a range of devices capable of transmitting all kinds of data resources. The power of VoIP combined with social networking capabilities allows organizations to use VoIP as a single medium for communicating with voice, video and other data formats.

VoIP providers typically offer communication capabilities such as unlimited or low-cost long-distance calling, call conferencing, call forwarding and other features at relatively low prices compared to POTS services. VoIP leverages the existing telecommunication infrastructure to enable phone calls as an internet service and is usually charged based on data volumes and bandwidth consumed. Basic VoIP delivery models are classified as:

1. Software-Controlled VoIP Applications
Software applications that use computers and mobile devices as soft clients or VoIP softphones. Examples include Microsoft Teams, Bria or ZoiPer

2. Hosted VoIP Solutions
The VoIP infrastructure is owned and managed by the service provider. The service is delivered to customers via a Wide Area Network (WAN) data circuit. The provider is responsible for the operations, security, upgrades and availability of VoIP services. This VoIP delivery model is suitable for small and midsize businesses as an affordable, subscription-based low-OpEx communication service.

3. On-Premise Self-Hosted VoIP Deployment
The VoIP call control mechanisms, technology and infrastructure is owned by the organization and deployed on-site. The organization itself is responsible for the availability, security and performance of the system. This delivery model is suitable for large enterprises with vast and complex VoIP requirements.

Effective communication is the key to successful collaboration within a business environment. Traditional telephone systems may no longer address the intensifying communication needs of the modern SMB. At the same time, internet connectivity has revolutionized the way information is accessed within and beyond the organization. VoIP offers user-friendly and highly functional communication capabilities such as sharing files during a video conference call, connecting individuals without limitations associated with their geographical presence and scaling resources to meet organization’s changing communication requirements.

Five Great VoIP Features Your Business Should Use

From laptops to smartphones, technology has transformed the places where doing business is possible. We’re no longer tied to our desks. We take our offices with us: city to city, across the country and around the world.

But staying mobile in business wouldn’t be possible if we didn’t use tools that help us communicate effectively. Today, businesses are rapidly adopting Voice over IP- (VoIP) based phone systems for their business communications. Unlike traditional phone systems that send signals over copper wires, VoIP transmits voice data over the same broadband connection you use for the internet.

VoIP phone systems not only offer a high-quality digital signal, but they are cost-effective, easy to use and come with a host of features. Here are 5 useful VoIP features your business should use:

1. Find Me Follow Me
This tool allows all your devices to ring at once, or calls can follow you by ringing your devices in a personalized sequence. With Find Me Follow Me, calls can be routed to your mobile phone when your desk phone is called. This is the perfect feature for an employee who is often away from a desk. This feature is also commonly used to ring multiple employees when a single number is called.

2. Voicemail to Email
With this feature, voicemails are recorded as an audio file and emailed to the recipient. Users then can easily download the file and play it on their PC or phone.

3. User Portals
This feature provides a web interface to your phone settings. User Portals allows you to view recent calls, view and listen to voicemails, set up your contacts and change settings for the phone and phone system.

4. Call Forwarding
This feature allows for calls to be forwarded from a business phone directly to any other number or device.

5. Auto Attendant
The Auto Attendant system is like a virtual receptionist. Auto attendant presents voice menu options that transfer callers to any extension without the use of a live operator.

Who is NCI and how we can help!

If you are looking for a proven IT service provider, Network Connections has all the solutions you're looking for.  We offer your business managed IT services, mobile or remote workplace, Microsoft cloud services, managed cybersecurity, and hosted VoIP solutions.

Contact us today, and find out how we can help your business. 

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