Internet phones are all the rage these days; the technology is called Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP). You may have already used VoIP with services like Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Skype, Google Voice or Apple FaceTime. The idea is that you can make telephone calls using your internet connection... Yes! Make telephone calls without relying on a BT line or mobile provider!
VoIP works by converting your analogue voice signals into a digital signal and piping it over your broadband line. And although your voice is digitised, you'll still be able to call people who are using older analogue equipment. You can even use your old landline device (and keep your number) by plugging in a nifty adapter that enables VoIP calls.
VoIP phones? How does VoIP work?
There are various ways to get started making VoIP calls.
From your existing landline telephone, you may be able to connect to a VoIP service with a special adaptor, which connects to your Wi-Fi and converts the analogue signals to digital.
If your old phone isn't compatibale or you just prefer something new with increased reliability, a dedicated VoIP telephone is ready to plug-and-play.
With a mobile phone you simply install your preferred application and you're pretty much good to go. Popular apps include Signal, Zoom and Viber.
Like your mobile phone, on a computer (laptop, tablet or work station) you can install a range of programmes like Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Skype, Google Voice or Google Hangouts to start making VoIP calls.
For the best quality calls you should use a headset but you may use the computer’s built-in speakers and microphone or use a dedicated microphone and desktop speakers.
Make multiple VoIP calls at the same time
In the same way that many people can hook up to a single internet connection to browse the web or play online games or watch Netflix, so too can multiple users make and receive telephone calls on a single internet connection; each user can even have their own unique telephone number!
It’s worth noting that the upstream and downstream demands of VoIP need to be equally high, meaning a fast connection speed is essential when there will be a greater demand, i.e. multiple users or video calls.
The callers can all be based in different physical locations too, but that's starting to get complex!
VoIP can be as complex or as simple as you need
The more complex your telephone system the greater the likely cost. It comes down to your specific business (or domestic) needs. For small businesses, a single caller-to-caller system is usually more than adequate... and much more affordable!
What do VoIP calls cost?
The cost of VoIP calls will vary depending on your particular set-up. For example, VoIP calls between two web or mobile applications (like Zoom or Signal) can be completely free. Many small businesses can happily work with just Zoom calls.
If you want to keep your old telephone, then the cost of an adapter should be enough to get you started. And depending on your current service provider, you may be able to transfer your existing telephone number over to a VoIP service and retain your monthly minute allowance.
If you’re using a dedicated VoIP telephone, then, as you would with a mobile phone, you’d need to take out a monthly package with a VoIP service provider. And like the many confusing mobile deals perpetually flooding the market, there’s no shortage of VoIP deals from which to choose. In the end your choice comes down to understanding your VoIP needs.
What VoIP features do I need to consider?
Here’s a list of the main things to consider when choosing your VoIP deal:
- Do you need VoIP telephones or will you be calling via web and mobile apps only?
- Do you want to keep your existing telephone landline number?
- Will you need multiple users? If so, what about multiple telephone numbers?
- Will you need to scale up your business in the future?
- Do you need video conferencing functionality?
- What about call recording? Call forwarding? Call queues? Answering machine?
- For the more complex systems you may need remote support
- Analytics? Metrics on your service usage could add value to your business
- Unlimited minutes or a fixed tariff?
- Local, national or international calls?
- Integration with a CRM or other existing computer system?
- Send SMS test messages?
- API developer tools?
Some important things to note about VoIP:
- Some telephone numbers will not be available to call with VoIP, e.g. directory inquiries.
- If the internet goes down, then you have no way of making telephone calls via VoIP
- A fast connection is needed for more advanced requirements
Momentum VoIP for small businesses
At Momentum we provide a VoIP package for small businesses. We set you up with a system that meets your needs, from installing the hardware to the monthly usage contract to providing 24/7 support.
VoIP can be difficult to get to grips with, so drop us a line on 01349 865008 for obligation-free advice