Before the pandemic, VoIP (voice over internet protocol) phone systems were already well known and fast-growing ways to communicate. Fast forward just a few weeks into a quarantine and everybody and their parents and/or grandchildren have communicated via VoIP at some point. Around the globe we use VoIP phones and networks to conduct business, connect with family and friends, and learn at a distance, now more than ever. But what are VoIP phones exactly and how do they work? Could it be that they are so user-friendly and intuitive that you don’t actually need to become a VoIP expert to use them effortlessly? In short, yes. But just for fun, let’s do a deep dive into the anatomy of a VoIP phone system and network.
First, let’s take a look at how a traditional analog phone works. You know, the kind with wires that plugs into the wall. The local phone company sets it up and sends you a bill in the mail. It’s the phone you remember from your childhood before cell phones existed. And when it rang, it was usually a complete surprise who was on the other end of the call until they spoke to you. That’s the phone I’m talking about. When we take a look back at this older traditional phone communication, we can properly understand how VoIP phone systems work. It’s a bit of a comparison with old and new technology.
How do traditional analog phones work?
The local telephone company physically connects each phone line with copper wires to their system, as the phone service provider. For businesses, an on-premises Private Branch Exchange (PBX) may be set up to create an internal phone network to be shared between employees. To get started as a new business or to add phone lines during an expansion, the installation alone could be costly.
In order to place a call, sound is transmitted as electrical pulses along the wires. For strictly voice calls, it works well.
As we approach 2022, it’s unmistakable that we are no longer satisfied with voice calls alone. We need to keep in constant communication even on the go and with more technology at hand. We want to place video calls from anywhere. This is the new normal. This is where VoIP comes into the picture, literally.
How do VoIP systems work?
Instead of relying on copper wires like traditional phones, VoIP systems rely on the internet, therefore internet access is essential for a VoIP system to function. Voice and multimedia are transmitted via data packets instead of wires.
Simple, cost effective, and fast to set up
The setup is typically easier, faster, and less expensive than traditional phone systems because its virtually all software based. There is no hardware to set up. Software-based technology is run from the cloud. The VoIP phone service provider can configure, customize, and deliver services to the company through the internet and with just a click of a button. Fast and less expensive. The phone service provider doesn’t need to pay a physical visit to the customer.
But, how do VoIP systems work exactly?
What do you do when you make a phone call? You speak to another person on the other end of the line, right? Let’s consider that Jane wants to call Jack. And Jane just got a brand spanking new VoIP phone system. Jane dials Jack’s number which requests her VoIP service provider to set up a call between her and Jack. Jane’s voice is converted into a digital signal and that signal gets compressed and sent via the internet to Jack. But before Jack can hear it though his phone/speaker, the digital signal is uncompressed back into its original sound, Jane’s voice. Of course, it works the same with a video call. The voice and the video are compressed, sent, and then uncompressed on the receiving end.
To make a call using VoIP, what is needed?
A VoIP app on a computer or mobile device, or a VoIP compatible office phone is needed. For businesses using VoIP, this allows employees to telecommute. They can essentially work from anywhere and make calls from their business phone line.
The other requirement is access to the internet. Most businesses are already paying for internet so this is not typically an additional cost when thinking about setting up VoIP. Also, if Jane and her employees already have devices compatible to use VoIP, like a mobile phone, they can simply download the app to get started. No additional costs are needed for hardware.
Since VoIP software runs in the cloud and is configurable at the click of a button. This means that it can be managed easily and quickly usually through a dashboard on the VoIP phone service provider’s website. If Jane wants to hire Jack and 3 more employees for her catering company, she can easily add new phone lines through her dashboard with just a few clicks. Jane can scale her phone needs up or down at any time and at a lower cost than with a local phone company.
But don’t be alarmed if you are not feeling like this is something you’d like to manage. Many VoIP service providers can help you customize your phone service based on your needs.
Another important aspect of a VoIP system are its features. With VoIP, Jane can make audio calls, video calls, manage voicemail, instant messages, team chats, email, SMS texts and voicemail to email. Also, there is voicemail to email. With voicemail to email, Jane can get her voicemails delivered to her email inbox. She can even respond to voicemails through email. Other features include call recording and custom caller ID.
Since VoIP is software based, with dashboards that are very intuitive, they can be super easy to manage. So much so that it’s difficult to realize the technology behind the scenes. As consumers and businesses making use of VoIP phone systems, we can reap the benefits and manage them like a pro!
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