As businesses continue to innovate and evolve in the wake of the pandemic and look for tools that support continuity and growth, VoIP telephony (voice over internet protocol) is fast becoming the preferred communications solution compared to traditional phone systems. A VoIP vs. traditional phone system relies on the technology that sends calls as digital signals, via the internet, instead of via traditional phone lines and copper cabling. With a VoIP, or IP PBX, businesses benefit from the connectivity, mobility and agility that all modern business teams need.
What is a VoIP Phone?
A VoIP phone is a telephone solution that uses VoIP technology. That means it’s a phone that enables you to transmit voice calls and messages via an IP network.
If you’ve ever made or received calls via WhatsApp, Facebook or Skype, then you’ve used VoIP technology. A VoIP phone is a hardware or softphone (installed on your laptop or desktop) that enables that type of connection.
VoIP phones and IP PBX systems offer businesses a reliable, flexible way to keep their increasingly remote workforce connected and keep in touch with customers and other stakeholders on the move.
What is the difference between VoIP vs traditional phone systems vs IP telephony?
The terms VoIP, and IP telephony can often be used interchangeably. IP telephony, is an umbrella term for digital, internet-enabled phone systems in contrast to traditional, analog systems. So voice over IP is a type of IP telephony, with VoIP more specifically defining how voice traffic is prioritized and transmitted over the network. But for the most part, they essentially mean the same thing.
With traditional phone systems, businesses can transmit voice calls via their landline phone, but you won’t be able to use your internet connection to make calls. That means team members can’t use the phone if they don’t have access to that landline, restricting them to their desks. The lack of flexibility is what has caused the demise of the landline in residential homes, and now, the same is happening in the business environment, and organizations seek more sustainable, more agile systems that support business growth.
Types of VoIP Phones
There are two different forms of VoIP phone, both enable business users to make and receive calls via the internet connection.
1. Hard phones
A hard phone is a physical telephone that looks similar to a traditional phone and works similarly. The main difference is that a hard phone device will transmit voice signals via your internet connection, offering more advanced functionality in general. Designed specifically to enable VoIP technology, these more modern phones will offer all the features your business teams need to harness the flexibility of your VoIP system.
A hard phone works by physically plugging directly into your business network.
While a hard phone physically sits on users’ desks, a softphone is the software version of your telephone. That means you can install it onto your desktop computer, laptop or smartphone, as well as other devices such as tablets or iPads, and benefit from the complete mobility that VoIP telephony allows. The beauty of a softphone is that users can make and receive calls via their preferred device from anywhere with an internet connection. This makes life much easier for remote workers or workers on the move, as they can continue with business as usual without being tied to their desks or the office.
How does the VoIP Phone work?
All VoIP phones function similarly, whether you’re using a hard phone or a softphone. In the simplest terms, by making and receiving calls via the internet connection instead of traditional phone lines.
Where historically phone calls were transmitted via PSTN (the public switched telephone network) using phone company installation, a specific carrier or provider, cell towers and copper cabling, VoIP calls are routed via your broadband connection.
VoIP phones also use digital rather than analog signals, meaning you benefit from more advanced technology that enables more flexibility and agility than a legacy phone system.
What are the benefits of a VoIP Phone?
Many businesses are ditching traditional landlines in favour of a VoIP phone system, and here’s why:
Mobility: VoIP users can make calls from anywhere. Generally speaking, the technology is cloud-based, allowing callers to access the phone system via a softphone app or desktop wherever they are in the world.
Convenience and cost savings: Running a traditional phone system can be costly, clunky, and difficult to manage if you want to make changes. When you switch to a VoIP phone, your communications system will save you money as subscribers won’t have a big outlay on hardware, and generally, costs are broken down into manageable monthly fees.
Scalability: Where with traditional PBX phone systems, businesses would have to install extra phone lines physically, a VoIP system allows much better flexibility and control over adding or reducing the number of users. Administrators can usually do this by logging in and making changes within the software interface, meaning you’re much better prepared for growth.
Security: With a reliable VoIP service provider, you should also have better control over your communications data. As your calls and exchanges happen over the internet, you’ll be able to ensure you’re using a reliable IP telephony platform, such as RingCentral, that uses end-to-end encryption to safeguard your business conversations.
Originally published Dec 01, 2020, updated Jan 16, 2023
Contact Global CTI to learn more about your options.