A layman’s guide to VoIP

Being straight-talking is part of our DNA here at Vapour. It’s how we communicate every day. But our recent blog, SD-WAN in simple terms, proved to be a particularly useful write-up for our clients. That’s why we’re back with a follow-up, providing a top-level overview of one of the industry’s hottest topics right now: Voice Over Internet Protocol, or VoIP.

Have you heard of VoIP? Most likely. The question is, how many organisations truly understand what it is, the technology that underpins it, and why it matters more than ever for boosting business resilience? Let’s walk through some of our FAQs, together…

What is VoIP and why has it become so popular?

VoIP started growing in popularity in the 1990s, as a workaround to avoid expensive calls long-distance and overseas. Because it converts voice signals into data that can be transmitted over the internet, it renders traditional landlines redundant and offers greater quality, flexibility and efficiency, as well as added extras like call recording, analytics, video conferencing and more.

With the impending closure of the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN — another acronym, we know!), it’s gained more traction recently too. Essentially, traditional fixed lines are being replaced by a fully digital network — one that uses Internet Protocol (IP) across a fibre-based service. Why? Because the legacy infrastructure is out of kilter with today’s communications demands.

For now, services will continue to work as they have done — it’s just new activations or changes to analogue phone lines that can’t be made. However, organisations will soon need to transition to the latest IP technology. They’ll need to make sure any PSTN-reliant equipment — such as CCTV cameras, elevators, security alarms, and more — are switched over too.

Can you use a normal phone with VoIP?

You can, but you don’t have to. Because VoIP technology relies on the internet to operate, you can use any device to make and receive calls. Desktop phones, smartphones, laptops, tablets — you name it, VoIP can work on it. You just need to make sure your broadband connection is fast, stable, and reliable. You’ll also want to do some standard due diligence checks before selecting the right provider (but we’ll come to that bit further down).

What benefits does VoIP bring to remote teams?

Workforces are more geographically disparate right now than they’ve ever been. And without access to office equipment or software at home, communication can be a struggle. Bridging the gap between multiple channels, the flexibility and mobility of VoIP technology allows users to connect from anywhere in the world. Of course, that has a direct impact on productivity too. 

How much does VoIP cost?

Type that question in on a search engine and you’re unlikely to find a concrete answer. That’s because the cost of setting up and using VoIP varies from one company to the next. The requirements of a two-person startup will be significantly different compared to an international corporate enterprise, for example.

If you’re not looking for all the bells and whistles, you may be able to access an ultra-basic business plan for free. Otherwise, you’ll need to speak with your chosen provider about hosting, service, and ongoing maintenance requirements. You don’t need to pay for expensive dedicated lines or specialised devices though. And you can scale up and down as needed. That means only you’re paying for what you need.

Why is VoIP better for your business?

We’ve already covered some of the benefits in detail, so we’ll keep this one quickfire:

  • Improved call quality
  • Increase flexibility, mobility, and scalability
  • Simplified equipment — meaning minimal setup and easy to use
  • Advanced features for savvier services

If you want to explore how these relate to your own business, let’s talk.

VoIP and unified communications — what’s the difference?

It’s a complex topic — and one we could talk about for hours. To put it simply though, VoIP is a technology that focuses on voice calls that are routed over the internet. Unified communications (UC), on the other hand, refers to a holistic approach that brings various tools under one single pane of glass solution — from calls and video calling to chats, file sharing and more. This is a game-changer when it comes to data and analytics, which you can delve deeper into here

Many VoIP vendors will offer UC features as add-ons to their existing plans. So chat with your tech partner to learn more about what’s possible.

And how can you get started with the right setup?

Choosing a VoIP provider is the first step. But with so many options available, it can be difficult to find the right fit. Our biggest tip? Opt for an organisation that’s truly tech-agnostic. It’s not just about implementing a solution, it’s about ensuring features are carefully selected to meet your business’ unique requirements. Everything needs to be truly robust and high quality too. Don’t pay for any old package.

Doing due diligence isn’t just about the technical bits though. Experience counts. Not just in terms of knowing their stuff, but in relation to reviews and testimonials too. Explore our case studies with machinery giant UNTHA UK and growing construction firm Seddon, for a sneak peek at our credentials.

At Vapour, we can get you up and running with your VoIP strategy in less than a day. Don’t believe us? Get in touch, and see for yourself.

Posted By Vapour Comms Team
20/09/2023

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