Introduction to VOIP Telephony

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1 1 April 2011 Introduction to VOIP Telephony What is VoIP VoIP refers to a way to carry phone calls over an IP data network, whether on the Internet or your own internal network. A primary attraction of VoIP is its ability to help reduce expenses because telephone calls travel over the data network rather than the phone company's network. IP telephony encompasses the full suite of VoIP enabled services including the interconnection of phones for communications; related services such as billing and dialling plans; and basic features such as conferencing, transfer, forward, and hold. These services might previously have been provided by a PBX VoIP, a low cost alternative to traditional PBX? Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) has become a viable solution for even the smallest of companies as broadband internet access has become affordable and far more reliable and with greater performance. VoIP offers a low cost alternative to the traditional, expensive phone systems and is fast becoming the communications system of choice, providing a telecoms system for businesses looking to work in more than one location. Home offices, remote offices and even temporary offices can all be linked via a single system. Moreover, the system helps to reduce telecommunications costs and provide a single point of billing for all locations. Hosted VoIP services are also gaining popularity among smaller companies since these services do not require any capital investment into expensive hardware, installation and configuration services. Inside this issue What is VOIP... 1 VOIP, a Low cost alternative... 1 Controlling increased costs... 2 Types of VOIP... 2 What you need for VOIP... 4 Hosted vs On-Premises VOIP... 4 Conclusions... 4 Recommendations... 5 Summary of Benefits... 5 Typical features of VOIP... 5

2 Controlling increasing Telecom s costs Any business is under constant pressure to control costs. You may have employees who work from home or who are mobile and need to keep in touch with the office and clients. As your business grows your monthly phone bill likewise increases, so you need to look for new and effective ways to lower your telecommunications TCO (total cost of ownership). More importantly, users not linked by VoIP use home land lines and mobile phones, so your administration costs can become an administrative task on their own. Until recently, smaller businesses had little to no option to the traditional phone system, often mounted to a wall in the corner of the office and connected to traditional BT lines/connections, usually digital ISDN lines. However, today a technology called Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) has become a real solution for even small companies since broadband internet access has become more affordable with greater performance and popular among small businesses. VoIP is a revolutionary technology that provides inexpensive voice communications and can be used in multiple locations, offering the chance to provide business telecoms services at an affordable price. VoIP has become a viable solution for even the smallest of companies as broadband internet access has become affordable and far more reliable Types of VoIP Service CALLING BETWEEN TWO COMPUTERS Calling from computer to computer is the original VoIP. It is the most basic type of VoIP whereby two people simple talk to each other through their computers. The caller and receiver make contact through a piece of software that they are both logged into. The main advantage is that these services are sometimes free, with Skype being the best known free VoIP provider. Each user will use a headset, or their computers' speakers and microphone, to communicate. This type of VoIP has the reputation for not being of the best quality but it has improved over the last few years. CALLING A PHONE FROM A COMPUTER As well as using a computer to call another computer it is also possible to call a phone with a computer. You can call any number in the world in this way, including mobile numbers. It is easier than calling another computer as that requires both the caller and the receiver to be logged on and to be at their computers. This means that you can't call someone unexpectedly as, unlike the phone, it won't ring when called. An advantage of calling a phone is just that; that you can call at any time as it doesn't need to be prearranged. So it has some of the advantages of using a telephone, but there is still the advantage of the cheaper calls VoIP offers. VoIP providers charge for this but it is significantly cheaper than calling between two phones. Many use it to call friends and family living abroad as international calls offer particularly large savings. With phone providers these can be very expensive but the difference between local and international calls is small by comparison when using VoIP. 2

3 VOIP PHONES These are phone like devices that are designed specifically for VoIP. In fact, in terms of operation and look, they are extremely similar to regular telephones. Users speak through them and hear through them just as with a telephone. They also usually have answer phones and other features similar to phones. The VoIP phone is connected to the internet and can be used to call anyone by dialing the number just as you would with a telephone. Another major advantage is that people can call you, by entering a number that will ring your VoIP phone as it would with a regular phone. VOIP ADAPTERS VoIP adapters allow people to use their existing telephones to use VoIP. They are used to connect a phone to the internet connection therefore allowing the use of the VoIP system. This means there are advantages of VoIP, such as cost savings and simplicity of the technology over all. The user experience is similar to using a VoIP phone. VOIP FOR SMARTPHONES Computer users have been fortunate enough to have Skype for making free phone calls to any other user anywhere in the world. Mobile phone owners haven't had any alternative except to pay bills from telecommunication networks. In addition, there are the high roaming charges when travelling overseas. Finally, the availability of powerful smartphones is introducing alternatives to the networks' pricing schemes. Skype and other VoIP products are now available for smartphone owners for both free and low-cost phone calls. 3

4 What you need for using VOIP on your phone Wi-Fi or 3G connectivity. If you are upgrading to a new smartphone and intend on making VoIP phone calls, make sure it comes with Wi-Fi. That way, you can keep the costs down. 3G is fine, too. You just need to find an economical 3G data plan that allows transmitting large amounts of data. Sufficient memory and processing capacity. In practice, this means that you need a midrange/high-end smartphone that runs on Linux, Symbian OS, or Windows Mobile. A piece of software, like Skype. There are various providers of such software available most are for free! Battery power. Wi-Fi drains the battery faster than a 3G mobile network connection. Hosted VoIP vs On-Premises-Based key benefits of Hosted VoIP You have two options available to you: you can manage your VoIP system onsite, or you can opt for hosted VoIP services. In an onsite based model, all hardware related to the IP phone system will reside at your company s HQ. You will purchase, install and maintain all the equipment and you will need in-house expertise to operate the system. On site based systems are complex to install and maintain. In addition, you must invest money in equipment. In contrast to an onsite based system, hosted VoIP solutions involve limited upfront costs. You simply need to make a small investment on VoIP handsets for user s desks or homes. All the equipment is managed off site by a service provider and there is no physical hardware onsite to maintain. The service provider maintains and supports the equipment and you receive all the services for a flat monthly fee. Small companies are quickly adopting the hosted Voice over IP (VoIP) model as it is the more reliable and cost effective solution. You receive services for a flat monthly rate based on the number of lines and features. Conclusions and Recommendations Until recently, smaller companies have had no real alternative to expensive conventional phone systems. Now, as broadband internet access has become affordable, even for small businesses, VoIP is becoming a cost effective, feature rich alternative to traditional phone systems. Small companies are quickly adopting hosted VoIP solutions to lower their telecommunication costs and benefit from Enterprise features at little or no additional expense. 4

5 Recommendations Network assessment is essential to implement VoIP solutions effectively. Your IT support provider can do this for you. A hosted VoIP solution is the best alternative for you if you do not want to invest in equipment and you do not have dedicated IT staff to manage the service onsite. The service provider who offers their VoIP services within a flat monthly fee model may prove to be more suitable, as you will have predictable monthly expenses. As well as using a computer to call another computer it is also possible to call a phone with a computer. Summary of benefits Completely hosted by VoIP provider Cheap to set-up costs Cheap site to site calls if not free! IP PBX solution devoted entirely to your business Cost Effective Scalability Virtual Office Remote User Business Continuity Weatherproof Higher productivity Business support Wide range of supported handsets Typical Features of VoIP Telephony systems Unified messaging Automatic call distribution Virtual Receptionist Audio Conferencing Call monitoring Call Recording Ring Groups Call Whispering Call Forwarding Music on Hold Follow Me Caller ID 5

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