VoIP Phone Service, otherwise known as Voice over Internet Protocol or VoIP, is a technology that allows telephone calls to be made directly to a computer by using internet based technologies, instead of using the public phone network (POTS). The service is usually available to businesses and private consumers who want to save money and/or have high-quality call quality. The service is growing exponentially; however, there is still a fair amount of growth left to go. Many companies are already well-established and making profits with VoIP service.
VoIP Phone Services usually starts at just $3.00 per month for a basic plan.
A more extensive service may cost you a bit more, but not much. Most providers offer unlimited use, although this is usually not included in the basic package. SIP Trunking is another service available with some providers that provides a means for video and audio to be sent through your internet connection; if your VoIP Phone Service provider offers SIP trunks, this will likely come in handy if you need this feature.
VoIP Phone Services typically include features such as call forwarding,
call waiting, auto attendant, voicemail, IVR, call forwarding, conferencing, web based call management, three way calling, directory assistance, caller ID, white pages, fax and virtual number, music on hold, three-way conference, unlimited call plan, and unlimited call time. Each provider offers slightly different packages, so be sure to review all the services and prices before signing up with a particular vendor. Some vendors also offer additional software or hardware to integrate with your enterprise-grade communications system. Review all of your options and determine what best suits your business communication needs.
How it works: In a nutshell, voice and data can be sent over the same network as is the case with a public switched telephone network (PSTN). The difference is that instead of the information being transmitted over the public network, it is sent between two independent IP networks. The benefits to VoIP are many, but it’s important to understand how the actual process works before choosing which provider to use. When you’re ready to select a provider, it’s a good idea to do your research and arm yourself with as much information about how SIP trunking works as possible.
SIP Trunking provides two different ways in which business phone systems can communicate. The first method is known as off-site session initiator, otherwise known as STDU. This is the most widely used mode for small business phone systems. It allows data and voice to be transmitted over the internet connection that connects your PSTN to a SIP Trunking Provider. This provides many advantages, including allowing you to have an internet connection that is always on and not drop dead while your employees are on the go.
An alternative, called call forwarding, is provided by another SIP Trunking Provider. As the name implies, call forwarding transfers your local calls to a remote destination. There are many benefits to this service, including the ability to receive calls while on vacation, cut down on long distance charges, and be able to use your international calling cards even when you’re abroad. However, the major advantage of call forwarding is that it provides very little bandwidth. Most providers typically only allow a few calls to be placed per day, depending on how many numbers you have in your calling list.
If your VoIP Phone System allows calls over the internet, you can also use a VoIP Phone Service provider that offers a SIP gateway. A gateway is a special device that connects your VoIP Phone System to a specific SIP Trunk Provider. You’re not limited to using a certain SIP Trunk Provider, and there are many options available for choosing alternate SIP Trunk Providers. However, most providers include a SIP gateway with their service, which makes it easier to move your calls between different providers. In addition, some providers offer gateways by default, saving you the cost of having to purchase them.
- Video Conferencing: Another aspect of many small businesses is video conferencing.
- This enables you to bring together a group of people at different locations for a small business meeting, or a holiday get-together.
- There are different approaches to video conferencing.
- Some use a traditional video camera and screen, while others use a computer and web cam, or a combination of the two.
- Depending on your business needs, you can use a VoIP Phone Service or a Video Conferencing provider to make video conferencing easy and affordable for your company.