What is IP telephony? Well, business IP telephony – or to use its full name, internet protocol telephony) – is revolutionising business telephone systems. It’s also called VoIP (voice over internet protocol), and offers a flexible alternative to traditional business telephone systems.
Business IP telephony allows you to place telephone calls you would normally make on a phone line over the internet. Calls are sent down your internet connection (it needs to be at least a decent broadband connection) using an IP-enabled handset or headset.
The handset or headset converts your voice into digital signals which can be transferred across the internet.
If you decide to use business IP telephony, you can still call normal telephones. And people using normal telephones can call you. You get a standard telephone number, just like everyone else.
To get started with business IP telephony, you will need a good, reliable internet connection and IP-enabled telephone handsets. You will also need a business IP telephony provider.
They should be able to set your business IP telephony system up for you. This usually involves a one-off set up charge, then a monthly charge for your business IT telephony number.
Companies are usually first attracted to business IP telephony by the prospect of reduced costs. All calls made within a business IP telephony network are usually free. That means you can place internal calls for nothing. And you usually pay nothing for external calls to other business IP telephony users on the same network as you.
Calling regular telephones can also be cheaper with business IP telephony. Savings are usually greatest when you make international calls.
However, business IP telephony is also very flexible. People in your business can use ‘softphones’, which allow them to plug a handset in anywhere and make calls from their main business number. All they need is an internet connection.
Business IP telephony means you can dial from your office number, even if your office is in London but you’re currently in Glasgow.
The same is true for receiving calls. With a softphone, calls come to you, wherever you are. Callers don’t need to know your location. You can even redirect your number to another telephone – like your mobile or a foreign number.
Business IP telephony can form an important part of your disaster recovery plan. Because you can redirect calls at will, you can keep on using the same numbers, even if there’s a disaster which puts your company HQ out of action. All you need is an alternative location with an internet connection.
Hosted business IP telephony (or hosted VOIP) is cloud computing for your phone system. Rather than running the phone system from a server in your office, all functions are taken care of by an internet-based service.
This means you don’t need to buy extra hardware (apart from IP phones) to start using business IP telephony. It also reduces maintenance costs as any equipment is managed and maintained by your supplier.
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