VoIP is the preferred option for business communications, and can give you a cheaper, faster and more reliable way to communicate within your business, and with your clients too. But how does VoIP work, and what do you need to know about VoIP to understand how VoIP can help you?
What Does VoIP Use to Run?
If you don’t understand the technology of VoIP, it can seem similar to a traditional phone line. After all, you can often use your existing phones to tap into VoIP, or use VoIP on your mobile phone. However, VoIP works like any data which is sent over the internet, such as WhatsApp messages or email. Using an IP network. VoIP converts voice communications into data packets, and then sends these over the internet. You won’t need a traditional phone line at all, as only your internet line is used. This is one of the main benefits of VoIP, saving you money by eliminating the need for a phone company contract.
As your data is sent and stored online, VoIP uses the cloud. This means that all your settings and data can be accessed through a centralized application, from any device. Users will be able to access this from any office, desktop or mobile which has an internet connection, viewing and changing elements like phone numbers, client information, contacts and admin settings.
What Happens When I Use VoIP?
You can use any SIP-enabled devices to make calls using VoIP. This could be your laptop or desktop computer, your mobile phone, or even handheld tablet devices with an internet connection. These use the VoIP network to connect to SIP trunks, or the PSTN (Public Switched Telephone Network.)
When you use a traditional phone line, there is hardware involved. Your phone is plugged into a copper line, and then routed through a server which is physically present in your offices. VoIP uses an internet connection, through your router. This means that everything happens via the cloud, and you need no on-site hardware at all. The router uses your internet connection, and then accesses your IP network to make the call.
Many companies have used this ability to access your VoIP from anywhere to allow staff to enjoy remote working opportunities, or to embrace opportunities abroad or in multiple offices. Wherever you are, you can make and receive calls as if you are sitting in the office. It’s a real game changer for the business world.
SIP Trunking: What Does it Mean and How Does it Work?
The diagram above shows what happens when your VoIP provider uses your businesses local area network (LAN) to connect to VoIP. This means that your voice data is running over the same line as all your other communications, from email and messaging, to file uploads. For many businesses, you might want to keep these things separate, increasing speed for other tasks, and maximising the Quality of Service of your VoIP.
If this is something your business is interested in, for example if you want to establish a PBX (Public Branch Exchange) for your staff, you’ll need to utilize a dedicated line, or SIP Trunking. SIP Trunks will take the information from the PTSN, an, actively channelling the voice data, funnelling it separately. Many businesses choose this system because it can work with your existing analog phone lines, allowing you to make use of the hardware you already have installed onsite.
The cost of your PBX will depend on a number of factors. This will include the number of users and extensions, the features you want, the installation and maintenance costs, and the supplier you opt for.
What Other VoIP Essentials Do I Need to Know?
There are a few other elements of VoIP you might hear about. These technical terms have simple explanations.
- Codecs: A Codec is responsible for converting your voice into a piece of data, so it can be sent over the internet. It can be either software or hardware, and it is either built directly into your modem, or accessed through an adapter. Think of a Codec like a decoder, changing your voice into an easily transferable package, and then turning it back into recognizable audio at the other side. Imagine how quick the codec works, that we can talk over VoIP in real time. Any issues with latency, lagging or delay can usually be explained by Codecs using a slow network or connection.
- Packet Switching: The Codec changes your voice into data, but this data is then split into thousands of smaller pieces. These are known as data packets. It takes only a fraction of a second to send these data packets to the end user, and they are then reassembled into identifiable audio. The process of packet switching is the way that these data packets are channelled across your networks without causing delay or traffic holdups.
Bandwidth: The most important requirement for your business to have successful VoIP calls is your bandwidth. This is how reliable your internet connection is. If you want to use extra features like conference calling and video meetings etc, you may need a higher than usual bandwidth, but the standard for good quality VoIP is .1 mbps per device.
Now You Know How VoIP Works: What’s Next?
Although all VoIP works in the same way, not all VoIP providers were created equally. Many offer varied functionality, have more reliable or affordable packages, and excel at elements such as customer service or speed of installation. Take a look at our extensive reviews to get a feel for what the big names in Business VoIP provide before making your final decision.