VoIP Phone Service, also called IP telephony, is a new telecommunications technology offering highly efficient telephone communication services to consumers and businesses. The basic meaning behind VoIP is “Voice over Internet protocol.” VoIP is simply the technology that converts your spoken words into an analog signal, transmitted over an IP network. This enables you to make a telephone call over the internet, from any location.
To understand how VoIP works, it’s important to understand how phone systems actually work. When a customer calls a telephone service provider, the company’s call center provides them with an extension in the form of an internet Protocol (IP) address. The call center will assign this IP address to each customer’s telephone to facilitate communication. The Internet Service Providers will maintain a pool of IP addresses for customers who’ve purchased phone systems and need to be connected to the internet.
The purpose of this mechanism is for Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP).
If an Internet connection is not available, traditional phone systems will not work. Providers may offer VoIP services themselves, or via what is called a “SIP trunks” or “PBX” phone system. A typical PBX system employs three primary components: a central switching office, VoIP providers, and the local phone companies. These companies utilize their own equipment and network resources to provide voice communications to customers, while the switching offices and providers connect the systems to the public switched telephone network (PSTN).
Most VoIP providers have opted to use what is known as “SIP trunks.”
These are specialized switching offices which link directly to either a traditional phone system or to an internet-based VoIP provider. An office will typically have dedicated IP addresses, which are normally listed with the country code, and which serves as an extension to the main IP address. The advantage of this approach is that it provides a way for phone systems to utilize an existing IP-based trunk system, instead of having to purchase and reconfigure an entirely new facility.
Another advantage of using a traditional PSTN infrastructure is that it’s a lot easier to deploy. With a traditional phone system, it takes a significant amount of programming knowledge and configuration to configure everything. In addition, the overhead associated with implementing a PBX system is very high, because you need to hire professionals to manage it. This often means that your investment in deploying a VoIP service becomes twice as large, if you go with a traditional PBX.
On the other hand, IP-based voice and data packets can be deployed in a variety of ways, depending on your needs. The most straightforward way is to use a special hardware device as a “resistance device” for your VoIP system. The resistance device can be as simple as a modem, router, or firewall, or as elaborate as a networked computer system. The advantage here is that all of the communications between the resiliency device and the rest of your network can be done over the same network, with no separate downloads required. Of course, deploying VoIP over a traditional PSTN backbone can also provide disaster recovery benefits; in the case of a disaster, your entire communications network (including all of your hosted VoIP services) can be restored quickly and easily, without compromising your business continuity plan.
The final benefit of adopting internet-based phone systems over traditional ones is scalability. Because VoIP utilizes a high-speed internet connection, your calls can be placed and received anywhere in the world at the same rates that would be used at your primary location. That’s a major benefit when considering the growing global marketplace. Implementing SIP trunks for all of your hosted VoIP services will not only speed up your telephony but will also significantly reduce your telecom expenses.
There are a number of other benefits that go beyond those highlighted in this article, but these three should be enough to convince most companies that there is merit behind the adoption of internet-based phone systems. The key issue in the VoIP community has been the rising costs of conventional PSTN services.
- While it is true that over time these fees are expected to come down, recent news indicates that they are not doing so rapidly enough to prevent the migration of call centers to VoIP services.
- This trend has been accelerated by recent FCC rules that restrict VoIP providers from using their current bandwidth and limit the amount of bandwidth they can charge their customers.
- To take advantage of these benefits and protect your business continuity plan, look for SIP trunking providers that offer unlimited bandwidth and unlimited calling plans to ensure you never have to worry about a potential bandwidth limitation.