What differentiates VoIP from traditional telephone equipment and service is that it is network based. True, even a single line analog desk phone or cell phone is part of a network - the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN). The public telephone network is a very specific network that does one thing really well. It connects one telephone to another or perhaps one phone to a group of other phones for a conference call. It has its own technology and wiring standards. VoIP, on the other hand, is designed to share standard packet based computer networks.
There-in lies the flexibility of VoIP. You plug an IP phone into a network jack, just like you’d plug in a PC or printer. No separate wiring scheme is needed. It doesn’t even matter where the phone is located. IP phones are known by their unique addresses, not which pair of wires they happen to be connected to.
With analog telephones, you have a choice on whether to connect each of your phones to the telephone company on their own line or to install an in-house phone system to connect the phones and share the outside lines. With VoIP, you can also install an in-house phone system called an IP PBX or extend your network with all the phones to a service provider. This approach is called Hosted VoIP or Hosted PBX. The connection is called a SIP Trunk.
SIP Trunking gives smaller businesses the option of getting both their phone service and broadband service from the same provider. The SIP trunk can be divided so that voice packets and data packets don’t interfere. Your phone calls are never interrupted by someone download data at the same time. Using one trunk for both voice and data often results in a cost savings over having separate telephone lines and broadband connections.
Hosted PBX services give you the flexibility of locating your phones wherever you want them. This goes beyond just moving telephones around the building. You can have one phone sitting on a desk in New York and other in Seattle, both connected by SIP trunks to a hosted PBX in Dallas. From the caller’s perspective, all of this equipment could be in one building. They have no perception of how geographically spread out this operation is. This capability is also known as a virtual office.
For larger companies, enterprise level VoIP systems handle hundreds or even thousands of phones located at headquarters, regional sales offices and branch offices nationwide. Private SIP Trunks securely transport voice and data among the locations, avoiding telephone company toll charges for in-house calls. The PBX switching system can be located at any particular location or can be a hosted solution. The beauty of hosted VoIP is that you pay as you go. There is no need for an expensive investment in telephone switching equipment nor the staff to maintain and upgrade it. That’s all handled for you.
Can your company benefit from a more flexible communications system, perhaps including mobile phones as well as desk sets? If so, get pricing and features quotes for competing VoIP service providers. Then compare with what you have now and see if you can gain flexibility and perhaps cost savings as well.