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    May 24, 2024

    What is VoIP? Continuant’s Guide to Voice over Internet Protocol

    VoIP is nothing new. It’s been around for years now, perhaps even decades. It’s a simple concept, converting analog voice signals into digital packets that can be sent over the internet. VoIP Voice over Internet Protocol Diagram

    While this technology is something many if not most people are familiar with, there’s more to unpack about how it works and the benefits it provides. This is Continuant’s guide to Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP).

    VoIP vs Landlines

    The biggest difference between VoIP solutions and landline phones is copper lines. Older phone systems rely on sprawling copper infrastructure, whereas VoIP is entirely cloud-based.

    Copper lines used to be the norm, but they won’t even be around for much longer. More and more copper lines are being decommissioned as the copper sunset approaches, and with that will also come ballooning phone bills.

    Between the two, VoIP solutions are far and away the better option. They offer greater flexibility and lower upfront costs. They’re also easy to use, update, and scale, and don’t require massive on-premises equipment.

    The (Mostly) Pros and Cons of VoIP

    For the most part, VoIP technology is more pro than con. Still, let’s make sure to take an objective look at what benefits a VoIP system offers an organization, and how to mitigate potential issues.

    VoIP solutions provide tremendous cost-savings. With no expensive equipment, they have a much lower up-front cost than your average on-premises system. It also comes with much lower upkeep, costing as much as 50% less than a legacy system.

    It also comes with greater scalability and flexibility being based entirely in the cloud. This makes for fast deployment, relatively painless user adoption, and a system efficient at supporting remote workers.

    The only real con that comes with a VoIP solution is the internet. The system's performance will be entirely reliant on your internet connection. Organizations without high-speed internet are vanishingly rare, so this shouldn’t be prohibitive. Still, it can never hurt to test your network quality before deploying a solution that relies on it entirely.

    The only time a poor connection or outage would be a serious problem is in an emergency. Some organizations opt to keep landline devices on hand to meet their E911 requirements, ensuring they can contact whoever they need even if the internet is down. This is an option for any organization concerned about emergencies, but as VoIP systems evolve, it may no longer be a requirement.

    Features to Look for in a VoIP Solution

    There’s a lot of VoIP platforms and solutions out there. Choosing one over the others isn’t always easy. There really is no wrong answer, unless you or your users pick multiple and wind-up overpaying and bogging down communications.

    There are certain features to look for in VoIP that may help you narrow it down.

    Auto Attendants

    Auto attendants answer calls on behalf of your users and can automatically route callers wherever they need to go. It’s nothing new of course, but what is new is the integration of AI. This technology will allow your auto attendants to route calls and answer customer questions more efficiently than ever.

    VoIP allows users to easily manage auto attendants from a web browser. Better yet, many of these solutions can include an omni-channel contact center with its own advanced features that help connect customers to the right agents.

    Mobile and Desktop Apps

    VoIP platforms almost always include both mobile and desktop apps, meaning users can access them on their personal computers and their mobile devices. It’s perfect for users constantly on the go and remote workers.

    When choosing a platform, it’s worth checking how well-optimized and secure its mobile app is. If it’s got lacking reviews on the Google Play or Apple App Store, it may not be your best choice.

    Unified Communications

    VoIP is an integral part of unified communications (UC). With a UC solution, you’ll be able to combine calling, messaging, and meetings on one platform. It’s one of the biggest steps in taking your internal collaboration to the next level.

    These platforms include industry leaders like Microsoft Teams, Cisco Webex, and Zoom. Each one offers VoIP technology, and each one could be a great fit for any organization.

    Encryption and Security

    Making calls over the internet opens them up to all sorts of security threats. The need for advanced encryption is greater than ever. Fortunately, almost every VoIP platform encrypts calls both in-transit and at rest. At most, nefarious interlopers on the internet will only have access to metadata.

    Some VoIP platforms are also connected to greater suites from companies like Microsoft and Cisco that provide even more security. Your calls are encrypted, and your data is locked behind applications like Microsoft Azure.

    Call Recording

    VoIP platforms redefine call recording. Beyond just saving recordings of calls, these platforms place them in cloud storage, allowing users to access them anywhere at any time. They can also leverage new features like sentiment analysis to determine a customer’s feelings and adjust the process accordingly.

    VoIP versus UCaaS 

    VoIP and Unified Communication as a service (UCaaS) seem similar on the surface, since they both deal with communications, but there are key differences between the two.  

    As the name implies, VoIP is strictly focused on voice. A VoIP system allows its user to make voice calls over the internet, and often not much else.  

    UCaaS, on the other hand, combines every facet of communication on one platform, including voice, video, messaging, and others. In fact, VoIP is almost always a component part of a UCaaS solution.  

    If you deploy a UCaaS solution like Continuant Connect, you’ll get all the benefits of VoIP plus any other collaboration feature your organization may need. This solution is delivered through the cloud as a service, making it cost effective, flexible, and easy to scale.  

    Choosing a VoIP Provider

    Features will help you determine which platform to choose, but what about providers?

    When choosing a provider, you’ll need to think carefully about your exact business needs. How many users do you have? How many of them work remote? What’s your budget? Are your users already using a certain VoIP platform?

    Here are some things to look for when choosing your provider:

    • Implementation experience. Find a provider that’s worked with businesses like yours before so they can configure your auto attendants and call queues, train your users, and deploy whatever hardware and software you require.
    • Network compatibility. Find a provider that can customize your solution to fit your network, not the other way around.
    • Customer support. Find a provider that provides ongoing support, preferably round-the-clock from anywhere in the world.
    • High availability and security. Find a provider with advanced security that can also ensure minimal downtime.

    On top of all those things, your best options will be providers with experience in providing the whole UC experience. Ideally, your provider should be able to give you VoIP services integrated with a UCaaS solution and an omni-channel contact center all at once. 

    Continuant is a provider that can do all this and more. With more than 28 years of experience in communications, we’ve helped organizations large and small design and deploy solutions that best meet their needs. We’ve also received Partner of the Year awards from Microsoft and Genesys 

    As a UCaaS solution, Continuant Connect includes tailored VoIP services that integrate with the platform to provide a truly unified experience. It’s just one of many ways Continuant Connect can be customized to fit your needs. 

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    David Shelby

    David Shelby graduated from George Fox University in 2018 with a bachelor's degree in English and began writing for Continuant soon after. With the help of Continuant's world-class engineers and subject matter experts, he's dedicated himself to understanding all things business communications. When it comes to UC, AV,...

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