Definition of VoIP
VoIP stands for Voice over Internet Protocol. It refers to making and receiving voice calls over the internet, instead of traditional analog phone lines. VoIP converts voices into data packets that are transmitted over broadband connections.
The need to switch to VoIP due to the phasing out of landline services
Many telecom providers are phasing out their old copper PSTN landline networks. For example, BT plans to retire landlines by 2025. This will require UK households to eventually migrate to internet-based phone services.
Switching to VoIP provides an opportunity to gain more features while future-proofing home phone access. VoIP services are readily available from major providers.
II. What is a VoIP Phone?
Definition of a VoIP phone
A VoIP phone is a hardware device or software app that utilizes VoIP technology to make and receive calls over the internet. It converts voice into IP data packets instead of using traditional switched circuits for calls.
How it works
VoIP phones work by:
- Converting sound waves into digital signals via a codec.
- The codec compresses the data to optimize packet size.
- Data packets are transmitted over the internet using protocols like SIP, RTP.
- At the destination, packets are decompressed into audio signal.
How to get a VoIP number
You can get a VoIP number by signing up with a VoIP provider like Vonage, Nextiva, or RingCentral. Most providers can instantly issue you dedicated phone numbers like:
- Local numbers to preserve your geographic presence.
- Toll-free numbers for customer accessibility.
- Vanity numbers like custom 1-800 numbers.
Can you switch a landline to a VoIP phone?
Yes, most providers allow you to port your existing landline number to their VoIP service so you can keep using the same number. Porting the number makes switching easier without having to update stationary and cards.
III. Common VoIP Phone Features for Businesses
VoIP offers useful communication features for businesses like:
Unified communications benefits
- Integrate phone system with email, instant messaging, video conferencing etc.
- Presence information to see availability of colleagues across platforms.
- Automated attendants that route calls professionally.
- Dial by name directories.
- Face to face meetings without travel costs.
- Share screens and presentations.
- Clickable phone links on websites to directly call you.
- Integrates with CRM and helpdesk systems.
IV. Benefits of Using VoIP Phones
VoIP phones provide many benefits:
VoIP eliminates long distance and roaming charges driving cost savings.
Includes voicemail, call transfer, call recording, and more features at no added cost.
Hardware phones can be plugged in anywhere with internet access. Software apps provide complete mobility.
Advanced call management features
Smart features like auto attendants, interactive voice response (IVR), and call analytics.
HD voice quality
Excellent call quality matching or exceeding traditional phones.
No per minute usage charges. Shared channels cost less than multiple analog lines.
Softphones allow using VoIP anywhere with your number and account.
Easy to scale up by adding extensions or features in the cloud platform.
Helpful for remote teams
Enables collaboration from anywhere through mobility features.
Easy to set up for companies of any size
VOIP systems have lower hardware costs and easy provisioning compared to legacy PBX gear.
V. Hosted vs On-Premises VoIP Phone System
VoIP systems can be deployed as:
Cloud-hosted VoIP phone system
- Hosted on provider platforms. Easy to spin up quickly.
- Hardware needed just for handsets. Minimal infrastructure costs.
- Provider handles maintenance, upgrades.
- Scales flexibly based on usage needs.
On-premises VoIP phone system
- Traditional model with hardware housed locally.
- Requires purchase and maintenance of PBX gear.
- Gives full control over infrastructure and customization.
- Suitable for specialized environments like call centers.
- Upfront costs higher but gives ownership of gear.
VI. Dedicated Home VoIP Providers for UK Consumers
Summary of dedicated home VoIP providers for UK consumers
Popular home VoIP providers in the UK include:
- BT Cloud Phone
- Post Office HomePhone
- Now Broadband
- Sky Talk
These let consumers eliminate landlines and access VoIP features for lower cost.
Pay As You Go (PAYG) style solution
Some providers like Ippi offer PAYG style home phone plans. These provide:
- No monthly fees, only call charges
- Top up credit for outbound calls
- Port your existing number
- Use your own phone handset
PAYG options provide flexible home VoIP access without subscriptions.
VoIP as a critical part of modern business phone and communication systems
VoIP and IP telephony have become indispensable for enabling today’s distributed mobile workforce while integrating communications. VoIP will continue growing as a core business technology.
Selecting the best provider for your business
Carefully assess your usage needs, required features, budgets and internal capabilities to choose the optimal business VoIP solution. Prioritize providers with excellent reliability, voice quality and comprehensive features relevant to your specific requirements.