Understanding VoIP

Learn More About Voice over Internet Protocol

VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) is a communication language. It is the general term for the transfer of voice and, more recently, video (multimedia) over an IP network versus the tried-and-true PSTN (Public Switched Telephone Network). 

The technology, started by hobbyists as far back as 1973, has gone through many iterations and improvements and is an ever-changing, ongoing process. Fortunately OMNI stays on top of the changes and can help make this technology work for you.

VoIP is Slowly Replacing Traditional Phone Lines

All carriers, including AT&T, Verizon, Comcast, and others, use VoIP to interconnect calls globally. So when you make a traditional phone call today on a traditional phone system, it is in fact a VoIP call. Even a call to or from your cellphone is VoIP! 

That little black box hanging on your wall, with the blinking lights, connected to your Comcast cable is in fact a VoIP-to-analog adapter. VoIP in, analog out! 

In larger commercial installations you will find a Cisco or Adtran device (also with blinking lights) called an IAD (Internet Access Device) hanging on the wall. This too converts VoIP to analog to connect to your phones or phone system.

The change that is happening today is the shift to completely eliminate traditional analog phone lines. This will happen but will be a long and evolving process. Analog modems, including fax machines, credit card machines, and life safety devices like fire alarms, do not work well or dependably when on VoIP. Some fire marshals still will not allow life safety devices to be connected via VoIP.
Video call

Hosted/Cloud Versus Premise Phone Systems

Hosted/cloud versus premise is an often misunderstood subject. The biggest difference is that premise has a PBX (Private Branch Exchange) at your place of business that is the call controller, whereas hosted/cloud systems have a much larger and shared call controller “in the cloud”. 

With premise, the phones on your desk connect to the call controller hanging on the wall, which is in turn connected to your carrier, through their black box or IAD (see above) to connect you to the outside world. With hosted/cloud systems, the phone on your desk connects to an Ethernet switch, through a router, over the internet to the hosted/cloud service provider’s system in one or more data centers.

Specific Advantages Come With Cloud Systems

Financially, premise is a CAPEX expense wherein you own, lease, depreciate, and eventually own the phones and equipment, whereas hosted/cloud is OPEX, where you subscribe to a service that may or may not include the phones themselves.

Both scenarios are applicable to business, depending on the needs of that business. A new, small, under-capitalized business can benefit hugely from hosted/cloud systems due to the reduced up front cost of technology.

There are some additional, real advantages should you shift your communications technology to the cloud. Companies with multiple locations, remote offices, teleworkers, etc. will benefit hugely from VoIP. 

That great employee who has been with you for 10 years does not have to quit the company because of an unexpected injury, pregnancy, etc. He or she can have a phone at home that is connected to the cloud/hosted or premise and it will function exactly the same as if he or she were sitting at his or her office desk. 

Also, a company with three locations can have a single operator answer and process calls for all three locations. An attorney with offices in three cities (and/or states) can have calls sent to and originated from any office, area code, anytime.
Group of employees

Premise May Be a Better Investment for Your Business

The biggest misconception we see at OMNI is the assumption that premise is more expensive than hosted/cloud. It can be or it can be less, depending upon the individual needs of the customer. But whether you opt for a premise or hosted/cloud system, you will still need phones, cabling, and termination to connect the phones to your network and equipment to connect those phones to either the internet (switch/router) or to a PBX/phone system. 

Older systems were very difficult to program and often required proprietary knowledge or software to do so. Not today. Today’s systems are mostly web-based, GUI interfaces. Anyone with the desire to program their own system can. 

Most often we find our clients don’t want to waste their time learning how to program their phone system, just like they depend on their IT person to program their server, router, data backup, etc.

For more information or to begin setting up your business phone system, call 561-296-9797. Be sure to ask us about Jive brand of hosted VoIP, too!

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