Companies that have switched to VoIP phone services have already seen savings in long distance charges, many, in the thousands of dollars per year. For companies that also make extensive conference calls, VoIP makes even more sense and can be combined with conferencing options such as document sharing. So why hasn’t every company gone with VoIP? I suspect most companies have not made the change because, first, they remember the nightmare expenses of putting in a new phone system from previous upgrade experiences, but that expense has been eliminated, just like long distance charges, with the installation of VoIP. Secondly, many people, like me before our company put in VoIP, simply don’t know enough about VoIP.
VoIP, the latest advancement in audio communications technology, stands for Voice
over Internet Protocol, to which a variety of different applications can be added, making it much more than a simple phone service. How VoIP works is rather revolutionary
because it utilizes packet switching rather that circuit switching as used in analog audio communication.
Analog phone calls are actually made via fiber optic networks using circuit switching by taking the analog transmission and digitizing to send the signal across thousands of
miles, then at the final destination, the signal is re-converted to analog. The switches remain open in both directions even while no conversation is taking place. This inefficient method slows down the communication of information and uses a lot of resources.
What streamlines VoIP is packet switching which sends and receives information only when needed, rather than in a constant stream. The information packets are sent via whatever open channels are available rather than via a dedicated line, and the information is simply reassembled at the source.
Where this all really gets confusing for the non-technical consumer is that there are different types of VoIP calling available. To date, the most commonly used VoIP system that we have all seen commercials for is from one computer to another, such as Vonage, but these services are basically for home service. All you need to set-up this type of service is a sound card installed, along with microphones and broadband Internet connections and a software package. These services are obviously not ones that would be of interest to business.
Business VoIP services are provided by companies in almost every city, such as Houston’s Phonoscope which offers a complete line of VoIP services, and, at least with Phonoscope, there’s no capital investment for a new phone system. Phonoscope provides the system and the telephones as part of the service. Standard features include:
Auto Attendant – Have a custom greeting play (recorded message) giving the caller multiple options to choose from to reach the desired extension.
Voicemail – Or Intergrated messaging with e-mail.
Automated Call Distribution (ACD) – Place callers on hold with music until a representative is able to answer the call. Professionally recorded messages for Auto-attendant and OutgoingVoicemail give your business that professional touch.
Toll-free Number – Your clients have a free way of contacting you.
Virtual Number – Have an office in New York with clients in California? Let us give you a California phone number for them to call.
International Virtual Numbers – Have an office in New York with clients in Europe? Let us give you a European phone number for them to call.
Soft Phone w/wo Extension – Program a phone into your laptop! Let your sales team bring the office with them.
Virtual Extension – Have an extension ring to your mobile phone when you can’t be in the office.
eFax – Use the Internet to send and receive your faxes. Easy to use and set-up, access your faxes from anywhere and get rid of those old fax machines.
Analog phones, as well as standard long distance calling, will begin to disappear in the near future as VoIP changes the scope of telephone service. “Land lines” for long distance calling will become obsolete as broadband becomes more common, and the change will arrive sooner than many expect.