What Is VoIP calling?

Peyton Duplechien • 07 Sep 2017 • 6 min read

It goes without saying that the internet has become well and truly integrated into our everyday lives. Most people won’t go a day without logging onto their computers or phones to get online, and as if people weren’t spending enough time there already, there’s now even a way to use the internet to talk over the phone – VoIP.

And just to be clear, VoIP isn’t some newfangled technology that’s yet to be tested. As a matter of fact, countless businesses around the globe, big and small, are already using VoIP to meet their phone-calling needs.

So, if VoIP is something you’re considering using in your own business, then read on to learn more about what VoIP is, how it works, and the benefits that VoIP could provide for your company!

What is VoIP?

First things first, let’s look at how to define VoIP, and what exactly goes into this service to enable phone calling via the Internet.

Right off the bat, VoIP is actually short for Voice Over Internet Protocol, though it’s known by many other terms as well, such as broadband telephony, broadband phone, or IP telephony. As you may have guessed, it’s a service that lets you make calls via your broadband connection instead of a landline service.

But how does VoIP work exactly? Surely it’s not as simple as getting online and dialing a number?

How does VoIP work?

Without making things too complex and tech jargony, VoIP works by converting sound into digital data and then sending it in packets over the internet to a given destination. Think of it like turning your voice into a soundbite and then delivering it to a number where it’s automatically played.

Naturally, all of this can be done without the use of phone lines, meaning you can call customers from wherever you have an internet connection. Sound familiar? If it is, then it’s probably because this is basically the same way your phone works when you make a call using your phone data.

Ok, maybe not exactly like that – VoIP is a little more complex. But in most cases, a VoIP call will operate via the following means:

  1. Assuming your phone is connected to your router when you dial a number, your phone will tell your VoIP service provider to call the other party.
  2. Once confirmed, your VoIP service will establish a call connection and exchange the data packets from your phone.
  3. Your VoIP phone then converts these packets into sound that the individual you’re calling can hear.

And that’s it, it really is that simple in practice! Essentially, by opting for VoIP, you bypass the need to use a dedicated telephone company’s service, ensuring you can deliver high-quality calls that aren’t reliant on a good phone signal.

What’s the difference between VoIP and landline?

Now that we’ve been able to define VoIP, you’re probably wondering if there is any difference between a VoIP phone number and a landline number. And besides how the information is transmitted, there are a few other differences.

Obviously, with VoIP, there’s no need for hefty on-site installation of phone wires, as all VoIP services are managed via the cloud. So, when you need to add or change users, it’s more like upgrading the software you’re using rather than adding in more physical technology.

On top of this, rather than standard calling services where you and the person on the other end are directly connected in a call circuit, with VoIP, the connection is established only when voice information needs to be sent, a brief connection whenever you speak.

But besides these points, for all intents and purposes, VoIP functions in the same way as any standard landline service when it comes to the concept of a phone call.

The benefits of VoIP for business

Given that VoIP is a far more modern piece of technology, you probably won’t be surprised to learn that it comes with numerous advantages over its landline counterpart.

For one thing, VoIP is often cheaper to use than a typical landline, as it reduces both on-site maintenance costs, as well as the sometimes-expensive prices that come with using normal calling services. Not only that, but the simplicity of how it sends audio means you get much lower international rates if you need to dial up people overseas.

But VoIP’s advantages and disadvantages don’t stop there!

Thanks to its use of digital information packets, VoIP is also able to send clear, high-quality audio messages that aren’t interrupted by signal issues. It delivers HD-quality audio that eliminates both fuzz and muffling.

On top of this, VoIP’s simple requirement of only needing a stable internet connection means that it’s the perfect tool for remote workers, requiring practically no technical setup to get started.

And finally, unlike some landlines, most VoIP services come with a whole host of additional features that don’t require expensive business add-ons, including:

  • Storage of incoming calls to a local voicemail
  • Easy call recording
  • Efficient call queues
  • Providing customer caller IDs
  • Translating voicemail to email
  • Auto-attendants
  • The use of instant messaging
  • Team chats
  • 3-way calling
  • Web conferencing
  • Multi-device connection

What are the disadvantages of VoIP?

While there are plenty of good reasons to go with VoIP as your preferred communication method, there are a few disadvantages that come with this sort of tech, such as the fact that you’ll need to have a constant and stable internet connection for it to work effectively.

For example, if you have some form of high-speed broadband, then you shouldn’t need to worry about your call’s audio quality or connection. However, should your internet be slow or drop off entirely, you likely won’t be able to make any effective calls until you upgrade or reboot your system.

Add to this the fact that you also won’t be able to make calls in the event of a power outage or your VoIP provider going offline, and you might feel that a traditional landline is more reliable. However, besides these two points, there really aren’t that many disadvantages to using VoIP.

How much does VoIP cost per month?

Like with any phone service, those who choose to use VoIP will have to pay a monthly fee that covers all of their phone calls, regardless of the time of day. Naturally, this cost is going to vary between VoIP providers, but in most cases, it will still be cheaper than a landline fee.

The other good news here is that any VoIP service worth its salt won’t be hiding any unexpected service fees or charges, instead providing unlimited calling options at a set price.

What equipment does a VoIP set-up require?

Besides a phone and router, the one key piece of technology that anyone hoping to switch to VoIP will need is an Analog Telephone Adaptor or ATA. Fortunately, most VoIP service providers will supply any necessary ATAs when you sign up for the service, so you shouldn’t struggle to get a hold of this equipment.

From here, you can then choose whether or not to operate using a wired or wireless phone, though we certainly recommend using wireless phones if you’ll be operating several phones simultaneously.

Alternatively, you may opt to use a digital phone installed on your computer or mobile instead. This eliminates the need for a physical phone, though you may need a headset and microphone to make any calls.

How to choose the best VoIP for small businesses?

We’ve talked a lot about what VoIP is and how it can benefit your company, but that still leaves one clear question, how do you choose the best VoIP for small business setups to ensure you really get your money’s worth?

And to answer that, we need to look at a few key aspects of VoIP service providers:

  • Experience – first, you want to be sure that the VoIP provider you choose is experienced in providing the support needed to set up and configure a VoIP system and all its advanced features. They should be able to train you and your staff in how the system works, as well as offer advice on optional hardware and software you might want to use.
  • Network compatibility – needless to say, any VoIP provider you choose must provide a service that’s compatible with your existing network or provide one that can at least be customized to meet your network’s needs.
  • Client base – much like experience, you want to choose a provider who’s worked with other businesses in your industry. That way, you can be confident that they’ll be able to address your specific business needs.
  • Customer support options – good customer support is the hallmark of any business, so you obviously want to pick a provider who can deliver on the promise of world-class customer service as and when you may need it.
  • Reliability – because VoIP’s only major downside is that it can’t function without internet or power, you should definitely be on the lookout for a provider who will keep any additional downtime related to system updates or outages to a minimum.
  • Security – last, but not least, you want to be sure that your chosen provider has the security credentials you’d expect to keep something as private and confidential as phone calls away from prying ears.

And that’s it, by keeping in mind these key points, you should have little trouble finding the best VoIP for your small business needs!

Use VoIP with VoiceNation today!

Hopefully, you should now have a much better idea of what VoIP is, how it works, and how it can benefit your business. But even with VoIP at your side, you might still be unsure if you have enough staff on hand to make or receive all the calls needed by your business.

Which is why you should consider teaming up with VoiceNation today!

Here at VoiceNation, our team of professionally trained Virtual Receptionists are experts in the field of Live Answering – regardless of whether or not it’s through VoIP or traditional landlines.

Get in touch to learn more about just how we could benefit your business, and don’t forget to ask about our free trial period! You can also find other informative guides like this one over on our blog, such as our piece on the best phone answering policies and procedures.