VOIP is probably one of the most used, and certainly one of the most abused, Acronyms in use by the ICT Industry today.
Let is demystify this for you:
Traditional Telephone Systems (also called PBX’s or PABX’s) switched and carried the voice signals in one of two methods.
The first is an analogue signal. This signal is the same as is used for your Home Telephone Line (called a POTS Line – Plain Old Telephone Service). The issue with analogue signals is that that they are subject to interference (such as from cell phones and other radio signals) and they are very easy to intercept (i.e. listen in to).
When used on a telephone system there is an added disadvantage that all the signalling (i.e. the telephone telling the Telephone System to transfer a call or to put it on hold) is done with DTMF Tones (the noises you get when you press a number). This means added complications when talking to other systems that use these tones.
The second method used to communicate to a phone is a Digital Proprietary Signal (unique to that brand or system). Although the technology used solved many or the problems encountered with analogue phones, it added some of its own, one of which was the cost of the actual telephones and your being tied to one supplier.
The Telephone Systems that use the above technologies are now classified as Legacy Systems.
So, along came VOIP.
To demystify the technology called VOIP lets simplify it. When 2 computers ‘talk’ to each other they use a technology called ‘Internet Protocol’ (IP). VOIP used the same technology to transmit the voice. Hence the description Voice Over Internet Protocol.
So what makes VOIP so different?
Firstly, VOIP is not proprietary technology so different phones and different telephone systems can talk to one another.
Secondly, because VOIP is data it can be transmitted across a data network (such as the Internet) allowing for the connection of multiple branches, telephones etcetra at nominal cost.
How does VOIP benefit you in your Company?
The is a good question, here are some answers:
- Because the Telephone System is basically a computer (or an appliance running computer software) add-ons such as Voicemail and Auto Attendants are much cheaper (and in some cases even free).
- You do not necessarily need separate cables for a VOIP System (you can share the network cable with your PC).
- The phone is programmed and holds it extension number so you can move your extension around the office just by moving your phone. No more calls to site to programme.
- Because the technology is IT, many functions such as programming can be done remotely.
- Voicemails can be converted to audio files and emailed to you anywhere in the world.
- You can connect to VOIP Gateways across the Internet saving costs on long distance and international phone calls.