What is VOIP?

Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) is the technology that enables us to make calls using the internet, rather than landline. With an earpiece and microphone, the call experience is more or less the same, whether you use VoIP or analogue. However, when Openreach phases out the PSTN landline network through 2025, only VoIP will work. […]

Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) is the technology that enables us to make calls using the internet, rather than landline. With an earpiece and microphone, the call experience is more or less the same, whether you use VoIP or analogue. However, when Openreach phases out the PSTN landline network through 2025, only VoIP will work.

We’re keen to ensure you are equipped to maintain business communications, after the Big Switch Off. Therefore, you need to embrace VoIP telephony, but let us put your mind at rest. Firstly, this will improve call quality and it is familiar. If you’ve had a Facetime or Skype call with friends and family or have joined Zoom or Teams calls, they were enabled by VoIP.

When Was the First VoIP Call Made?

The early stages of innovation date back 50 years, however, the first VoIP software was made available in 1995 by a company called VoiceTec. At the time, the equipment needed to use it was expensive and broadband connections were too slow, so the take-up was limited. However, this kickstarted the development of an alternative means of communication.

By the 2000s leading tech companies were supplying affordable devices and VoIP calling services. Since then, the technology has improved and become more widely available. Coupled with strong and wide-reaching broadband, most people have now communicated via VoIP, even if they didn’t realise it!

How Does VoIP Work?

In short, VoIP works by converting your spoken words into a compressed, digital format. This is sent to the recipient over the internet and is converted back to sounds for them to hear. Contrast this with PSTN, where the analogue electrical signal itself is transmitted and carries the voice.

A slightly more technical explanation is:

  1. Your phone or device connects to your router in your Local Area Network (LAN)
  2. When you select who you want to call, your phone informs your VoIP provider to connect.
  3. When the connection is answered, the compressed ‘data packets’ are exchanged.
  4. Your VoIP phone converts this back into sound, so you hear what your contact is saying.

The process happens in an instant, so we can hold conversations with people located near or far. It’s amazing when you stop to think about it!

Why is VoIP Popular?

VoIP is popular because it:

  • Enables consistently high-quality calls
  • Requires less equipment to set up – As an SME business, you may simply need a subscription with a business VoIP provider, a phone, mobile phone or laptop for set up and calls, a router and broadband connection. Headsets are optional but recommended for efficient call handling.
  • Reduces the total cost of operation – It leverages existing internet devices and services rather than expensive, hard-to-maintain, analogue-only hardware, which leads to reduced call charges. This is one of the primary drivers for both operators and consumers
  • Offers a wide range of features
  • Not restricted to a 1:1 or three-way call. As such, individuals in multiple locations can access the call and join the conversation. In a world of remote working, this has been of considerable worth.

As such, VoIP communication technology is reliable, affordable and adaptable. So, if you have yet to embrace it, there is no time like the present.

What are the Disadvantages of VoIP?

The main disadvantage of VoIP is that it cannot operate during a power outage. If you work from a remote locations, with a patchy broadband connection, this is not the ideal solution. However, if you have back up, they will still work.

Another concern is making emergency calls through VoIP services. With some providers, this has not been possible. However, with the phasing out of landlines, this issue is being addressed by Ofcom.

Additionally, if your landline is connected to analogue devices, such as alarms, they will be affected by a switch to VoIP. In most caes this can be addressed by using an Analogue Telephone Adapter.

We are happy to advise on the most appropriate solution if the continued operation of analogue devices is a concern. Equally, if you are uncertain about whether your broadband connection has sufficient speed, stability and bandwidth to support VoIP technology, we can advise on ways to check.

Is VoIP Secure?

One reason why you may have been holding back is not knowing if transmitting communications over the internet is secure. This is an important consideration.

The answer depends on your VoIP provider and your cyber security measures. Hackers can gain access to internet communications. This can result in them extracting information, disrupting call services, eavesdropping or spreading malware.

For this reason, it is important to select a VoIP provider that implements encryption measures as standard. Some include a wide range of protection features. We partnered with VoIP provider, Firstcom Europe, to provide telephony solutions. After extensive research, their commitment to call security was one of the main reasons behind our decision.

In addition to selecting a trusted provider, you can minimise vulnerabilities by:

  • Using an encrypted Wi-Fi network
  • Including VoIP technology in your Firewall protection
  • Opting for password access when setting up VoIP.
  • Considering two-step authentication, especially in highly sensitive industries
  • Planning the secure setup of remote users.

Is VoIP the Future of Communications?

Whether you were an early adopter or you feel pressured into switching before landlines are made obsolete, VoIP is the future of communications.

Coupled with the rollout of 5G and integration with emerging technologies, the reliability, security and capabilities of VoIP communication will continue to expand. It will help to increase the efficiency of call handling and meet the needs of businesses to adapt and upscale.

If you have any questions about VoIP telephony for Oxfordshire businesses, or Teams integration, get in touch on 0333 101 7300.

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