The quicker small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) grow their business across local and international regions, the more they demand practical solutions that improve their collaboration and communication with remote employees. VoIP tools meet this demand because they are perfect for wireless telecommunication infrastructures: they support enterprise mobility and are cost-effective.
Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) lets you make and receive telephone calls via a broadband cable internet connection, direct service line (DSL), or a T1 line instead of a conventional phone service. You can make domestic and international calls to telephones or mobile phones for a small fee, making long distance calls a thing of the past.
VoIP is a great communication tool for your SME since it's cheaper than traditional telephone lines. Some plans even allow you to make free phone calls based on how much time you spend talking, or which country you're calling. VoIP is also flexible, as you can call someone from your computer, mobile device, or traditional telephone (with a special converter box).
VoIP calls also provide clearer sound, especially if they are connected to a high-speed fiber optic line. And if all your employees are making calls at the same time, VoIP is a better option compared to investing in multiple telephone lines.
Types of VoIP applications
Free vs. premium
You can download most VoIP apps for free. Common examples include Skype from Microsoft and FaceTime from Apple, but some applications are offered free in exchange for promoting a website or some enhanced premium products or services.
Paid VoIP apps have additional features that the free ones don't, such as the following:
- Interactive Voice Response (IVR) – This lets callers interact with your SME's communications system via voice or your telephone’s keypads. Callers can use this feature to enter or retrieve information from a database. Your company can reduce clerical processing and effectively exchange information with IVR.
- Speed dial – Your communication system stores phone numbers for easy access.
- Advanced call forwarding – It enables internet calls to be forwarded to another branch extension, mobile device, or landline if the line is busy or unattended.
- Voicemail – If the caller is not able to contact you, he or she will be routed to a voicemail system and be prompted to leave a message for you. You can control your voicemail inbox with features like remote message notifications and voicemail to email options.
Web-based vs. Operating System (OS)based
There are some VoIP apps that you can access straight from an internet browser, or an email inbox. Gmail allows you to send messages and make calls with its Chat feature, while Facebook allows its users to make calls and send messages with its built-in Messenger app.
Most OS-based VoIP apps or “softphones” like RingCentral, ZoiPer, and iSoftphone are not free, but they may already be bundled by your VoIP service provider for optimal integration with your current telephone system. Softphones offer the call management options and flexibility of other paid VoIP services, turning your computer or mobile device into an enterprise-level communication tool that can be used in or out of your workplace.
Session Initiation Protocol(SIP) based vs. service-based
All VoIP users can be contacted by inputting their username (in the case of Skype) or phone number in the app. You can have different usernames, email addresses, or phone numbers for each VoIP service with which you register.
VoIP hosts direct, filter, and organize internet traffic from one central hub. If you do a videoconference with many people, that hub may overload from the large amounts of web traffic and affect the overall quality of the video call. Fewer points of communication mean that your videoconference is more secure, though.
Third-party SIP-based apps use a single SIP address that can be used in other SIP-based apps. Compared to service-based VoIP apps, SIP apps provide fast, flexible, and scalable services because of a peer-to-peer system where all connected devices will process inbound and outbound web traffic. This system gives users access to more bandwidth and resources, though it may be prone to hacking or malware.
Kansas City’s Complete Technology understands that combining IT and best business practices is the key to achieving your business goals. Contact us today for an in-house consultation to help you focus on your business tasks and not be distracted by IT concerns.