We asked Trevor, a relative newcomer to IP Telephony, to explain what it is, what it can do, and how you can benefit from it, in his own words:
A question most often asked by many people, including myself when I first heard of IP Telephony. From my research it has nothing to do with the film IP man, neither is it to do with the childhood classic of picking team mates, ip dip do, nope, turns out it’s IT terminology for alternative communications, or 21st century communications. I’ll try over the course of this post to explain in better detail what it is, what it does and also list some benefits of an IP Telephony service.
What does Internet Protocol Telephony (IP Telephony) mean?
There are many sites that offer an explanation into this, the following is a quote from techopedia.com:
Internet Protocol Telephony (IP Telephony) is the use of IP-based networks to build, provide and access voice, data or other forms of telephonic communications. IP telephony provides traditional telephonic communication over an IP-based network, the Internet – via an Internet service provider (ISP) – or directly from a telecommunications service provider.
Glad that’s cleared up!
That’s the problem I’ve found with most sites, they tend to cater to people in an IT industry, well what about those starting out or those who aren’t fully tech savvy? To me, reading this is like trying to read and understand Russian, impossible. Allow me to offer an alternative explanation of my understanding of what it is.
Currently most people use a standard phone line (also known as PSTN- Public Switched Telephone Network). This is your basic plug-in phone socket in the wall. Where an IP phone differs is that is instead of using the phone line, it uses your internet connection to make and receive calls.
In a nutshell that is a pretty accurate description of what IP telephony means and is, using your internet to make and receive calls.
Now that’s cleared up let’s discuss a bit about what it actually does and how.
Excuse me for a moment whilst I get a little ‘techie’.
The way IP telephony works is that the accompanying software digitizes the audio, encodes it, and sends it as ‘packets’ over your network and then decodes it at the receiving end. To make that relatable, when you send an MMS (picture or audio file) from your phone, it sends the information as a data file (0’s and 1s) and the receiving phone translates them 0’s and 1’s back into the picture or audio file. The same thinking can be applied to making a phone call using an IP phone, it sends your conversation as data (0’s and 1’s) and x at the receiving end back into audio. This means, effectively, that you only use data not ‘minutes’ when you make a call. Phew!
Basically the phone still makes and receives calls just like your normal telephone but it does it differently to the legacy system of old. So it makes and receives calls like a normal phone does, and you can carry out similar tasks as you would a normal phone, call transfer, hold etc.
So what are the benefits I hear you ask?
Well the benefits all depend on what you use communications for and how your business operates, I’ve listed below some of the key features that can be found in an IP telephony system, I’ve limited it to 14 otherwise I could go on for a while, the system can do most things, or be programmed to if feasible. Below that are 6 “advanced features” that it can also do.
- Genuine per second billing and NO connection charges
- Exceptionally low call rates
- No expensive leasing on legacy telecoms equipment
- Multiple Extensions
- Unlimited IVR Auto Attendants
- Call queuing with announcements
- Unlimited Conferencing
- Music On Hold
- Operation times / night service
- Ring groups
- Optional Call Recording
- Optional call monitor / barge
- Voicemail to email
- Call forwarding
- Global address book with click to dial
- Dynamic Conferencing
- Caller ID for incoming calls
- Call centre wallboard
- Outlook / CRM integration with on screen pop up of inbound calls
- Custom reports
Did you know!
The technology is currently used by more than 40% of UK businesses to reduce telephony costs and improve business efficiencies.
In 2008, 80% of all new Private branch exchange (PBX) lines installed internationally were IP Telephony lines.
Businesses that will maximise the benefits of VoIP include those:
- Where phone bills are a significant overhead
- Making a large number of calls to mobile or international numbers
- That would benefit from advanced phone system features, such as automatic call distribution
- That have home workers or remote workers anywhere in the world
Well that went on for longer than expected! I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this and found it useful, if you’ve made it this far, congratulations and thank you for sticking with me!
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