VoIP ranges from using your computer as a telephone all the way up to systems that are indistinguishable from standard network switched technologies. The home business user may be very happy with a VoIP telephone service that piggy-backs on the Cable or DSL broadband they already have for Internet access. These services don't require you to buy a special telephone. Instead, they provide an adaptor, sometimes called an ATA or Analog Telephone Adaptor, that works with the phone you have now. You simply plug your phone into the adaptor, connect the adaptor to your router or broadband modem, and you're set.
When you pick up the phone you get dial tone just like you have now. The phone rings just like it always has. The difference is that the bundled price of local and long distance service is often much less than you pay for traditional analog telephone service. Are you interested in VoIP as a replacement telephone service or for a second phone line? If so, you can use the service finder at Affordable VoIP to compare service offers and pick the one that's right for you.
Businesses that are large enough to have multiple employees and their own business address usually need a multi-line system so that more than one person can be on the phone at a time. Typical of these small businesses are real estate offices, insurance sales, warehouses, restaurants, retail stores and so on. What's also typical these days is that most businesses have a need for both telephone and Internet service. There are two good solutions that will give you both phone and Internet service with the voice quality and reliability you need.
The first solution is called Integrated T1. The integration comes from a combination of telephone and Internet on the same standard T1 line. Usually T1 is set up for either voice or data. But an integrated solution gives you both. A dynamic T1 line goes even further and automatically assigns any bandwidth not being used for telephone calls to broadband Internet. Even a heavily loaded Integrated T1 line with a dozen calls in progress will still give you Internet access similar to may DSL services. Being a combined service, you get a price break by ordering a single T1 line instead of two separate ones for telephone and Internet.
The second solution is call SIP Trunking. This is a fairly new service and works very much like a dynamic T1 line. Both voice and data packets travel on the same SIP Trunk from your business to your service provider, where they are separated into phone calls destined for the public telephone system and Internet access routed to the Internet backbones. The term SIP refers to Session Initiation Protocol, the term used for signaling in a VoIP telephone system.
Would an Integrated T1 or SIP Trunking solution be best for your company? The way to find out is to get pricing for each approach and compare cost and benefits. A simple online query will get the ball rolling and a friendly consultant will help you pick the right service for your business needs.