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What Exactly is VoIP?

If you don't already subscribe to a VoIP service you've at least heard the acronym buzzing around. But what is it? And do I need it? Can't I keep using my trusty old analog system? I'll answer this and more without going too far off into the rhubarb with the "geek-speak".

VoIP is an acronym for Voice over Internet Protocol, which utilizes a group of technologies and protocols to convert analog audio signal into digital "packets" which then can be transmitted and received over your internet connection. When you speak into a phone you are creating an analog signal that your VoIP phone converts into data packets which then is sent across the internet and is eventually converted back to an analog signal for the person on the other end of the conversation. The conversion from analog to digital (compression) and digital to analog (decompression) is accomplished through the use of codecs, which we will cover in a future post. At the end of the day what this means is a PSTN (public-switched telephone network) is no longer required because your phone calls will be travelling down the same highway as your email and web traffic.

In a world where the ability for remote work is forever expanding VoIP allows everyone to stay connected as if they were in the same office. Since all you need is an internet connection there are many ways to make and receive calls using your extension in and out of the office. You can literally take your desk phone home with you and plug it into your personal home network and it will work. On the go? There's an app for that, or should I say a soft-phone app. Download it onto your laptop and plug a pair of headphones in, or install it onto your smart phone. It's very hard to miss a call these days.

With all these cool features VoIP has to offer its probably super expensive, right? Wrong. In most cases it's actually significantly more cost effective, with savings being anywhere from 30-70% in telecom services. No more expensive on-premise PBX to purchase or maintain, which is especially useful for companies that have multiple branches. Long distance minutes? See ya later. Since calls are utilizing your broadband connection and aren't tying up copper circuits anymore you no longer have this cost. Hardware costs can be very minimal as well, you could choose to opt for strictly soft phones which would eliminate the need to purchase physical handsets. These are a few examples of where you can expect to see cost savings.

At the end of the day I highly recommend checking into a VoIP solution if you aren't currently subscribing to one. Between the cost savings and the limitless features it has to offer and is continually being improved upon, it will help your company stay connected with your employees and customers more so than ever before.

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