What is Voip?

By Neil Zawacki
Updated: September 09, 2011

VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) has become quite popular with small businesses over the last few years. Many people still don’t know what the technology is, however, or how it can benefit their business.

To put it simply, VoIP is a way to make and receive phone calls over the internet. You don’t need to use the telephone network, and can quickly scale the system up or down depending on the number of employees.

Here’s how it works: the VoIP software digitizes the audio signal into a variable number of packets and encrypts them for security purposes. It then transmits the phone call across the internet until it reaches its destination, at which point it decrypts the packets and reforms the audio signal.

You need a few pieces of equipment in order for VoIP to work. The first is something to speak into and listen to during the phone call – this can be a VoIP telephone, a standard phone with a VoIP adapter, or a microphone and set of speakers. The second is a high-speed internet connection that can handle a large amount of bandwidth—56K dial-up just won’t suffice.

VoIP also requires a computer program to be installed onto your system. This is usually pretty small and can be downloaded directly from the vendor. It will handle all the necessary processes and perform the security encryption. Many of them also provide access to useful functions like an auto attendant, call recording, call waiting, and conference calls.

If this seems complicated, it’s not. Most people can have VoIP up and running at their business in less than twenty minutes. The VoIP software also tends to have a streamlined interface that allows you to quickly access your contact list and make and receive phone calls with a click of a button.

There are also many advantages that make VoIP worth your company’s time. The first is the amount of money saved – VoIP tends to be much cheaper than a traditional phone line. It can also make international phone calls for free (or extremely low rates, in some cases). This provides a major benefit to small businesses that need to contact foreign countries on a regular basis.

One disadvantage of VoIP is that it is not always tied into the 911 service. If you need to dial emergency services, the system won’t automatically send your location to the dispatch service (this is because the phone call is occurring over the internet instead of coming from a fixed location). Most VoIP systems now come with an E911 feature that provides the same capability, however.

Featured Research
  • How VoIP is Transforming the Healthcare Industry

    The healthcare industry, like many industries, is in the midst of an era of rising costs and an ever increasing pressure to drive down expenses. Now, what if we were to tell you that there was a simple solution to these problems? The answer is VoIP. And to make it sweeter, it allows for your hospital staff to utilize modern mobile devices as resources instead of antiquated phone systems. more

  • [Infographic] 8 Common Pain Points UC Eliminates

    Every company has moments of frustration, it is when these moments become extended periods of inefficiency, or pain points, where we start to see loss in productivity and employee morale. What truly sets a successful business apart from those of its competitors, is how they take these pain points and use them as opportunities to improve upon procedures and systems to eliminate pain points and move beyond what was the status quo. more

  • Go VoIP and Go Green

    You may be looking to switch to VoIP because of the cost benefits that it will bring your company, but did you know that it is also FAR BETTER than traditional phone systems for the environment as well? With environmental impact being at the forefront of both consumer and business minds, it is essential that business decisions are made now based on economic AND ecological impact. more

  • eGuide: Comparing UC Vendors

    Changing your company’s business communications solution is an investment in time and money that will touch everyone in your organization. A successful unified communications (UC) deployment should streamline everyone’s work flow, simplify IT operations and deliver a lowered total cost of operations. Your company deserves nothing less. more

  • Getting More from Your VoIP System

    Too many businesses fall into the trap of setting up their VoIP as a "plug and play" and getting to work. However, we have found that this thinking only leads to businesses failing to get the most out of their VoIP experience. We have put together an in-depth guide that will walk you through 15 easy steps to get more out of your system. more