Many people use the terms IP and VoIP telephony interchangeably. What most people don’t know is that these terms refer to two different concepts.
IP telephony or Internet Protocol telephony refers to the area of communication that uses IP networks. VoIP or Voice over Internet Protocol is the technology that enables the use of IP telephony for voice communication. This replaces the traditional PSTN or Public Switched Telephone Network.
How does VoIP work?
The Internet is a kind of data network. Anything that passes through this network needs to be converted into data signals. With VoIP, the main goal is for voice signals to be transmitted from the source to its recipient so that the users will be able to communicate. This kind of technology enables conversion of analogue voice signals into a digital format. This can now be transmitted over the network. The network can be a LAN (local area network) that converts the digital format back to analogue voice signals. This is what the recipient hears. A special type of phone called an IP phone is used to make this two-way conversion (analogue to digital and digital to analogue) possible.
This technology is an effective way to manage calls in an organisation. This system requires a computer server that serves the function of a PBX (Private Branch Exchange) in a traditional business telephone system. In a traditional phone system, the PBX distributes calls throughout the company. In VoIP, the IP computer server picks up the voice signals and then allows them to be transmitted over a data network to various recipients. Since the signals travel through a data network, VoIP eliminates the need for a dedicated circuit. This characterises the conventional PSTN.
How is IP telephony different from VoIP?
IP telephony uses VoIP functionalities. It also adds other computer-based features to make your system more dynamic and efficient. As with VoIP, IP telephony eliminates the need for cables or copper wires which are associated with traditional systems. In addition, IP telephony can also eliminate the need for a dedicated PBX and even traditional phones. Users can utilize their computer and other mobile devices to make and receive calls.
VoIP technology provides the conversion function. IP telephony utilises additional technology to replace the other functions that PSTNs serve. If you can remember, call handling via PSTN requires a dedicate circuit while the call is in progress. On the other hand, IP telephony uses software called softswitch. This eliminates the need for a dedicated circuit. It establishes a connection between the caller and the recipient. After the call is done, the software works on establishing new calls. The softswitch functions just like a receptionist or telephone operator who helps customers connect to the person he needs to talk to. It then lets the customer handle his own business.
IP telephony also makes it possible for other forms of data to be transmitted. Examples of these are videos and files. This service depends on your provider but a package usually includes functions such as call transfer, call forwarding, video conferencing, etc.
So, how do I use VoIP and IP?
VoIP technology is limited to call transmission. IP telephony covers the transmission of voice and other data forms. The reason why these two concepts are being loosely interchanged is because IP telephony makes use of VoIP technology to transmit voice.
Keep in mind that most VoIP providers offer their clients packages that are actually IP telephony-based. When speaking with a VoIP provider, you will learn that they can set up a system that enables you to make phone and video calls by using a broadband Internet connection. If this is the case then it is perfectly alright to use the term VoIP even if what you are actually availing of is IP technology.
Benefits of VoIP
More and more companies are now turning to VoIP technology for their communication needs. Small to large businesses from different industries benefit from it. Call centres also utilize this technology as it saves them a lot of money especially if they deal with a lot of international calls. Call costs are significantly lower in this type of system compared to traditional ones.
VoIP is also easy to setup. You don’t need fancy equipment or heavy infrastructure. You also don’t need to give up precious space in your office, and the cost of a new phone system is less than you might think.
VoIP is easy to manage. You can do all tasks using your computer. You can make calls with a click of the mouse. You can find contacts easily. You can also retrieve pertinent information about a client when he or she calls. This will help you make critical decisions faster. Supervisors can also assign which persons to receive incoming calls. They can also join a conversation when needed.
VoIP equipment is affordable. Some systems allow you to use your existing phones. If you need to buy new equipment, you will probably just need a good headset and mic. Most importantly, you need a good Internet broadband connection so that your call quality will be excellent.
Over the years, the call quality of this system has improved. No more choppy lines or dropped calls.
These are just some of the reasons why businesses turn to this great new technology in telephony.