Why VoIP? This article will help you understand why you should choose VoIP for your home or business (or why you shouldn't).
Telecommunication has advanced considerably with the advent of the Internet. Consumers and businesses today do not only have to rely on traditional landlines for communication; instead, you can use VoIP, Voice over Internet Protocol.
Voice over Internet Protocol uses an Internet connection and an Internet Protocol (basically, Internet language) to make phone calls.
VoIP is digital service that uses your current high-speed Internet connection. Instead of paying for both Internet and a landline phone, you can have Internet and a cheaper phone service. A typical home phone service with VoIP can run from $10-$20 a month, while a landline plan is usually $20-$40.
So, VoIP is cheaper than traditional phone service. That is one reason why VoIP is better than traditional phone service. Here are some more benefits of VoIP.
What are the benefits of VoIP?
- VoIP saves you money
- long distance calls are cheaper
- low maintenance for businesses
- VoIP offers more features
There is lots competition between VoIP service providers that benefits you, the consumer. Competing providers offer deals and lower subscription fees to get your attention. That's one reason why VoIP is better than service from traditional, entrenched telecom phone service providers (although these telecom providers are starting to respond with lower prices).
Features for a landline are expensive. VoIP can offer features for less money because the base costs for those features are cheaper. Telecom companies have to implement hardware/software solutions; VoIP providers can just change the software. That's why VoIP can offer cheaper features.
VoIP installation is more convenient than a landline because VoIP uses less expensive equipment (sometimes, VoIP does not even use any additional equipment). Configuring a new extension or phone on a VoIP phone system is much easier than setting up a new extension with a landline.
Residential VoIP is great for those consumers who must make long distance calls often.
Business VoIP is great for small companies looking for ways to reduce costs without losing essential communication features, such as call waiting, call conferencing, and transferring calls.
Long Distance and International Calls
Long distance and international calls are much cheaper with VoIP. In fact, long distance is included in all plans at the same cost of local calling because VoIP can create a virtual local location when sending calls. A landline phone company may be able to use VoIP-like virtual locations to make local calls, but frequently, a landline phone company has to use a long distance calling company.
International calls are made differently than the PSTN. The PSTN must maintain a direct, open connection to the call's destination. This uses a lot of bandwidth. VoIP, on the hand, uses the Internet and carries data through the most efficient path to the PSTN and the call's international destination. VoIP can't create an entirely local connection (they are calling a network in a different country) but VoIP can reduce the numbers of middlemen and thereby reduce costs.
For small businesses, VoIP has a virtual and accessible system called Hosted PBX (hosted private branch exchange). A hosted PBX requires no networking hardware to function; instead, your business pays a subscription to a VoIP provider. That VoIP provider has all the private branch exchange software and equipment set up on their network, which you can access for your subscription fee.
Larger businesses that already have a PBX system can incorporate VoIP into the network for outside communication by buying and subscribing to SIP trunking. SIP trunking can reduce costs by creating a more efficient phone system.
In a basic landline home phone service plan, you will not get many features - or any features - for free. In a basic VoIP home phone service plan, the standard list of features includes caller ID, call waiting and voicemail.
Sometimes, VoIP providers include 3-way calling or a 2nd phone line free with your subscription.
Other features of VoIP include extra phone numbers (like toll-free and vanity numbers) or customer service interfaces with address books (see Vocalocity for this).
The standard features of business VoIP include all of the above and advanced features that are more difficult for traditional PBXs to accomplish. Auto attendants are especially useful for routing and managing calls, and auto attendants come with all VoIP PBXs. VoIP PBXs usually integrate phone features with Internet service; for example, voicemail to email.
What are the disadvantages of VoIP?
- you must have a high-speed Internet connection
- call quality is dependent on your connection
- VoIP is not available in power outages
- 911 is different
Improvements in technology have significantly helped with the some of the problems of VoIP, such as call quality and security. One improvement is the increased use of QoS (Quality of Service) routers that make sure voice traffic gets the top priority.
VoIP phone service still needs Internet and electricity to function, however. A power outage can leave you without a home phone.
Additionally, because VoIP isn't bound to a location, emergency services work differently. VoIP providers now offer E911 service, which automatically sends your registered address to the emergency call center even if you can't speak.
All in all, VoIP has been able to overcome many of its disadvantages compared to landline VoIP services.