VOIP stands for Voice Over Internet Protocol, and is a way of making and receiving phone calls via the internet instead of through the usual telephone landline system or a mobile network. In theory you could reach almost anyone in the world using VOIP provided both you and they are connected. Your internet service needs to be of reasonable quality and speed.
Another advantage is that VOIP tends to be cheaper than the traditional phone services and this can be a big advantage to businesses, especially small businesses where costs need to be kept to the absolute minimum. Thus voip phone systems are becoming very popular with business organisations, making savings of up to 80% on phone bills, especially if there is a good deal of international calling.
The method works by converting the analogue sound signals of speech in the phone into digital signals that can then be carried over the internet. The digitizing can be done by a special VOIP phone handset or by a separate box called an ATA or Gateway. The signals may go via a VOIP service provider or straight to the receiving IP address. VOIP phones can be simple devices or relatively sophisticated ones that provide a total phone solution handling incoming and outgoing calls and re-routing as necessary within an organisation such as a business. Such a VOIP phone system is virtually a necessity for a business handling many calls a day.
A VOIP phone system can have many features an analog phone isn’t able to provide, such as IDs for contacts that may be easier to remember than phone numbers, or a facility for sharing contact lists among several accounts. Thus a VOIP phone system can become a fully integrated communications system, delivering many features whilst at the same time reducing overall costs.
VOIP based on the SIP system, which is the recognized standard, is usable by all, and any SIP compatible device can talk to any other. You don’t even need to use a computer, since any SIP based device or phone can call another via the internet. SIP or Session Initiation Protocol is an established signalling protocol that marks out sessions within a network, whether it be a simple two-way phone call or a more complicated conference session between several parties. Being able to establish these sessions brings into being other services such as instant messaging and voice enriched e-commerce.
With a suitable system you can create appropriate call policies and centrally manage your communication system. A good business set-up combines voice, data, video, security, and wireless capabilities, and integrates with existing desktop applications such as calendar, email, and customer management programs. Incoming calls are automatically routed to your VOIP phone whereever it’s connected into the network. You can take your VOIP phone with you on a trip away, and receive calls anywhere via an internet connection, avoiding the high cost that a normal mobile would cost you on a roaming tariff.
Call centres have discovered they can set up anywhere using VOIP phones with a good internet connection, so can take advantage of cheaper labour costs for their agents in certain countries. VOIP lays the way for web and video conferencing which saves businesses a good deal of money.