Years ago, businesses and home phone networks used landlines to make incoming calls or send outgoing calls. But now that the internet has become somewhat of the new normal in terms of how businesses communicate with their customers, a new type of standard has been set.
Nowadays, businesses are turning to VoIP phones to improve phone lines and functionality across communication for businesses. Here is everything you need to know about how VoIP phones work, as well as how you can get one for your own business.
What Is a VoIP Phone System?
VoIP stands for Voice over Internet Protocol. Essentially, it is a type of telephone that connects to the internet to make phone calls rather than a telephone company. VoIP technology can be used through an office phone connected to an ethernet cable, or it can be run on a program like a computer or mobile device that supports the same functions.
Instead of hard-wired phone lines that use direct connect copper wires to provide telephone service, these phones can give you better mobility and connectivity, particularly for long-distance calls.
One of their major benefits is that since they are run over the internet, they aren’t bound to a specific location, which can improve overall call quality. This means you can take the voice-over IP phone anywhere you want and still be able to make or receive communications.
VoIP Phones vs. Traditional Phone Systems
Since VoIP business phone systems operate over the internet rather than a connected line, they can make and receive calls no matter where you are. This is one of the main differences between the two.
However, the other major difference is that you technically don’t need a physical telephone or cell phone to make calls with a VoIP. You can make calls from a mobile app on your computer.
VoIP phones are perfect for company conference calls or other group calls because they also often have a faster response time and a more clear audio system. Plus, in the event of an internet outage, many VoIP phones can use call routing or call forwarding to send calls to another number or voicemail.
Of course, the connection to the internet can be a downside just as much as a benefit. We’ll talk about that in a bit.
How Do VoIP Solutions Work?
Traditionally, office phones needed to be hooked up to a Private Branch Exchange (PBX) on the premises. This is a giant, bulky, inconvenient machine that handles all the call routines and ensures that calls reach their necessary destination. But with a VoIP phone, all you need is an internet connection or Wi-Fi network.
Business VoIP phones are a piece of cloud-based technology, so they function by connecting to existing computer network cabling or a wireless network. You just need a VoIP-compatible mobile phone or a VoIP service provider to make it work.
Once your phones are hooked up to the VoIP software and the internet, they can make calls whenever. These function just like regular phones but have a few benefits.
Benefits of VoIP Phone Service for Business Communications
There are a large number of reasons why small businesses are switching to VoIP phones and ditching their traditional landlines to make communication easier.
Some of the most prominent benefits of VoIP phones include:
There’s less fuzz, latency, and noise when making a voice call over VoIP. The audio quality on a VoIP call is noticeably better than PBX systems on analog phones. This is because of the use of a digital signal rather than an analog one.
VoIP softwares often have premium features like call recording, queuing, or even auto call attendants that can speak to customers on your behalf. These features are often included with business phone service plans but are sometimes an additional cost.
Speaking of cost, these virtual phones are actually cheaper than most physical phones. In fact, companies that switch to VoIP lines tend to save upwards of 60% on their monthly phone bills.
You can call anyone worldwide for much lower rates compared to landlines or usual phone services. This is great for international business calls and conference meetings.
You don’t need to have all of your employees within the same office building to easily communicate. These are fantastic options for remote workplaces, and since you download VoIP softwares onto your computer, your employees can download these features no matter where they are in the world.
VoIP phones are also easier to set up compared to analog telephones. Most IT departments just need to hook the phone’s adapter up to a wired network’s router or wireless network, and they’re good to go.
A great Voice over IP telephony feature is the auto attendant function. This works by answering calls and directing them to the correct extension automatically without needing the input of a human.
This is also called IVR, or interactive voice response. If you’ve ever had to press “1” for sales or “2” for accounting when contacting a call center, you’ve interacted with an auto attendant.
VoIP allows for unified communications across your company’s communication platforms. Your team gets to work faster by meeting over video conferencing and screen sharing all in one place, so you don’t usually need to worry about making sure every employee has multiple different apps downloaded on their phones.
Drawbacks of VoIP Phones
While there is a lot to love about VoIP phones, there might be a few reasons why they might not be the best choice for your business.
You Need an Internet Connection
While this is a benefit of VoIP phones, it’s also its biggest downside. It requires a solid internet connection for high-quality calls. If you happen to lose internet or Wi-Fi service at your office due to a power outage or internet service cutout, you’ll lose the ability to make and receive calls unless you have a landline backup.
Latency Can Sometimes Be a Concern
VoIP works by sending small data packets through the internet. Something called packet loss can happen if these pieces of data fail to reach their destination, which can result in dropped calls. This can happen if a network is congested, though service features in many VOIP software help to cut back on this risk.
Emergency Calls Are Not Supported
Landline phones are associated with a physical address, and those devices are not portable. If you call 911, they can send help to your location even if you can’t communicate with them.
Since VoIP devices are designed to be portable, a caller might not necessarily be located at the billing address, complicating emergency services. You can still make emergency calls and tell them your physical location, but it’s a lot more difficult for help to find you, especially in large office buildings.
What Do You Need to Install VoIP?
If you’re ready to install VoIP software into your office space, you have two options. The first option is with a hard phone. Hard phones are hardware-based VoIPs that look just like desk phones you would see in any office building. The difference is that they connect to an internet modem, or Wi-Fi, in order to function.
A soft phone, on the other hand, is software that is downloaded onto a computer to take calls in real-time. You’ll use the computer to make or receive calls just like a phone, except the keypad and functionality are accomplished through the app itself.
You can talk through the speakers and microphones on your computer, or you can purchase a separate headset to make your calls more private. Sometimes, getting a headset can give you better sound quality and a more comfortable experience.
You can also get a conference phone which is always a welcome addition to meetings and board rooms. This is because conference phones have omnidirectional microphones that can pick up sound from all directions, so everyone around the table can be heard loud and clear on the other end.
Have any more burning questions about VoIP phones? Let’s talk about some of the most common questions so you can get a better idea as to whether or not these types of phones are right for your business.
Can You Transfer a Phone Number to VoIP?
If you want to keep your current business number, you can transfer it over to your VoIP number for a seamless transition. To do this, you’ll need to port it by moving your phone number away from your current provider and transferring it to a new one.
To do this, you need a letter of agency and a recent bill from your current provider. It can take a few weeks for the porting process to become successful. In the meantime, you can continue to use your old landlines until the porting process has been completed. There should be a very small amount of downtime (if any) on the day that your number is successfully ported.
Can VoIP Phones Receive SMS?
VoIP phones can receive texts in the same way as a smartphone as long as you have a connected software app on a computer. From there, you can send and receive texts easily.
Can You Use a Computer While Talking on the Phone?
Since the VoIP phone works alongside software, you can usually do in-office or remote work on your computer while answering calls or texts. It's sort of like using video chatting software on your computer – even though you’re using it to make a call, you can still browse the web and use your device for other functionalities.
Can You Still Get Spam Calls on a VoIP Phone?
If you’re like any business across the country, you’re probably subject to seemingly endless amounts of scam and spam calls throughout the day. While VoIP phones don’t function over the same network as landlines, they still are at risk of spam and scam calls.
You can avoid these threats on your personal business number by getting a second Burner number. With Burner, incoming callers will never see your real number — only your Burner digits. If you make an outgoing call, no one will ever be able to see your personal number.
Hackers can get a lot of information from your personal or business cell, so it’s important to keep it safe from people you don’t know very well. A second Burner number protects your private information to reduce the risk of being subject to phone scams, cybercrimes, and more.
Not to mention, your Burner number has advanced features like Do Not Disturb, picture messaging, spam blocking, and auto-replies, making it the best companion for your small to large business.
Ready to start calling and texting with a shiny new number? Get Burner on your iOS or Android device today.
Use VoIP for All Your Business Needs
A VoIP phone is a phone that is connected to the internet rather than a copper-wired line. They work similarly to traditional phones, but they are more portable, have better sound quality, come with advanced features, and can usually be operated from a computer.
While their biggest downside is that they require an internet connection in order to function and emergency calls work differently, these phones are very easy to set up and can be used from almost anywhere, making them useful for remote workplaces as well as offices in large complexes.
You can use existing business numbers with VoIP lines, and you can even receive instant messages if you have them connected to a computer through VoIP software. While they’re still subject to spam calls, you can get a second Burner number to help protect you and your business from getting your private information compromised.
Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP) | Federal Communications Commission
How VoIP Works | HowStuffWorks