VoIP telephony is a generic term that refers to any communication system and applications that allow users to make and receive calls over the Internet protocol (IP). Voice over Internet Protocol, or VoIP, is a form of phone service and systems that enable voice communication over the Internet, including voice mail, online gaming, instant messaging, web conferencing, and other computer-based voice applications. VoIP systems are usually used in conjunction with email. VoIP providers offer both hosted and dedicated servers for facilitating voice traffic. This type of service is growing in popularity worldwide.
With its low cost and unlimited possibilities, IP telephony is fast becoming the preferred means of making telephone calls. It has made it possible to eliminate traditional long-distance charges, which have been a major barrier to using this technology. As more businesses and consumers switch to VoIP, the competition between VoIP service providers is heating up. Prices have been driven up by heavy investments by VoIP providers, and companies have resorted to several different ways of cutting costs, both on the infrastructure front end. Some providers have introduced features without charging for them; others have bundled additional services like call waiting, speakerphone, and the ability to connect to voicemail automatically. To keep up with VoIP’s growing popularity, service providers have introduced many more marketing strategies, some of which are explained below.
Many VoIP providers to offer unified communications solutions that include PC-to-PC and PC-to-phone connections through the Internet and an analog signal. Examples of VoIP unified communications services include IVR, auto attendant, fax to email, web conferencing, conference calling, and text message messaging. These systems combine the capabilities of PC-to-computer and PC-to-phone, allowing multiple lines to interconnect with each other and the rest of the network. The advantages of this type of system are that it takes less equipment and personnel to install, allows integrated deployment across different departments, and lowers communication overhead.
Phone service integration: A popular way of incorporating VoIP into an existing PBX plan is to allow users to integrate their data network with their phone service. Phone companies can enable VoIP integration by adding an analog adapter (also known as a VoIP phone adapter) to a traditional PSTN system or digital telephone adapter (known as a VoIP phone). This enables users who use the internet to make phone calls to be able to do so over a data network just as they would with a regular analog line. The major advantage to this method is that it allows phones to seamlessly communicate with fax machines, cordless telephone headsets, and cordless mouse.
IPTV – Digital Video Technology (DVT) uses IP networks to transmit digital audio streams to a receiver. A VoIP phone system can incorporate an IPTV gateway to allow IP video traffic to flow through to an HDTV monitor from which viewers can view it. IPTV uses high-speed internet connections to transmit voice and video information to IP enabled devices such as computers, laptops, and digital television sets. A VoIP provider will need to certify that their servers can handle the volumes of data being sent and received for this to work, but many providers offer competitive packages now with low start up costs and little to no training required.
Integrated voice and data systems: Most major providers of VoIP telephony also offer bundled solutions that include a complete PBX with VoIP capability as well as integrated voice functionality. In some cases an IP phone system can integrate with a traditional PSTN system and the ability to use an existing PC or laptop to make phone calls. In other instances, a VoIP phone system can incorporate a feature-rich hosted VoIP service with integrated voice and data capabilities. This offers a very robust integration solution that makes integration with other computer communication systems extremely easy. Many small businesses that have tried to incorporate VoIP telephony with their existing computer systems have found the integration process to be very simple.
No hardware or software is needed to enjoy VoIP capabilities:
An important advantage that many consumers forget is that VoIP providers do not need any form of additional hardware or software in order to enjoy VoIP phone calls. You can simply connect your home or office PC or laptop to a high speed internet connection and you will have access to the internet where you can make unlimited phone calls. You do not need any special cables or routers or additional hardware to enjoy this type of technology. Many large companies that offer voice over IP services also offer standard PC or laptop solutions that enable you to take advantage of this feature as well.
- No maintenance is required: With a VoIP system there are no recurrent fees associated with maintaining the phone service.
- If you have ever attempted to maintain your standard phone service by calling a customer service center or repeatedly paying for long distance charges when you have international calling needs, you will understand how frustrating this can be.
- This aspect of using a VoIP system makes it attractive to consumers who are looking for a cost-effective solution to making and receiving telephone calls.
- Many VoIP service providers also offer free hardware and software so you do not have to worry about additional equipment or software installations.