What Is a VoIP Phone and How Do They work?

If you are thinking, “what is a VoIP phone?” don’t worry, you’re not alone. This is simply the next step in telephone technology.

As technology continues to progress in leaps and bounds, nowhere is this more noticeable than with phones. It was only 20 to 30 years ago that the idea of everyone having their own phone would have seemed outlandish. A few decades before that, many people did not even have a landline in their homes.

But now, phones constantly have new technology and upgrades added to them. Often these upgrades make the phone run faster or give it a new camera. Manufacturers rarely change the original calling function. Aside from voicemail and user ID, the way phones make calls has remained much the same.

However, VoIP phones are here to change that.Illustration for VOIP

What is a VoIP Phone?

VoIP stands for Voice Over Internet Protocol. VoIP phones are pieces of technology that use the internet to make calls. The concept is simple – where normal phones use hardlines to make calls, VoIP devices make calls over the internet.

With the correct software, hardware, and an internet connection, you can make VoIP calls from a range of devices, including:

  • Laptop and desktop computers
  • Tablets
  • Smartphones
  • Landline phones

Without the ties to hardlines that standard phones have, VoIP devices can offer users a much wider range of services. They have multiple functions that are impossible on traditional phones, a higher level of flexibility, and can significantly reduce a business’s running costs and efficiency.

VoIP Phone Numbers

One of the differences between traditional  phones and VoIP phones is the way their phone numbers work. VoIP phones still have numbers, but since they do not have a link to hardlines, they do not use area codes.

VoIP numbers also remove some of the main restrictions that phone numbers have always had. First, multiple devices can simultaneously host and use a single VoIP number. Secondly, a single device can host multiple VoIP numbers, which allows for much greater flexibility than traditional phones. VoIP users can have both their professional and personal numbers on one phone, where they usually would have to carry one device for each.

Also, how much internet you use is the only cost one needs to consider when making calls between VoIP numbers. Limitations with cell phone plans like night or weekend minutes, roaming charges, and messaging limits become obsolete. While VoIP users may need an internet-only plan for use outside the office or home, they can still make calls using a Wi-Fi connection.

How Devices Use VoIP

Using VoIP to make calls is simple, but setting it up is different for each kind of device. Some people will need new hardware, some need new software, and some devices already have both built in.

Landlines – Some modern landlines come with VoIP capabilities as standard, but for those that do not, you can buy an adapter. You only need to plug the adapter into a phone socket or router. In this case, even old rotary phones will be able to make VoIP calls.

Computers – Given that many people can now work from home, it is likely that you have already made a call using VoIP. Installing programs like Skype, Zoom, and Google Voice lets users make VoIP calls. These services also allow users to call regular phones for a small fee.

Smartphones and Tablets – Many of the most common messaging apps have VoIP calling capabilities. Apple phones come with FaceTime built-in, and apps like WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger allow VoIP calling.

What Are VoIP Phones’ Benefits for Businesses?

VoIP phones are becoming more prevalent, but while anyone can get one, they are generally more useful for businesses than personal use. Many companies have already switched to using VoIP phones since many of their features directly complement their needs.

Extensions

Businesses have long taken advantage of extensions. Each employee has their own phone number, with only a few digits at the end changed. This has simplified things and reduced the costs of having multiple lines. Employees could all be on their own calls at the same time, both internally and externally.

However, those who have worked in an office will have a story of something going wrong and a line dropping out. VoIP phones help to make sure these mistakes do not happen. Not only is the software often less tricky to use than traditional landlines, but VoIP users can join on the same number wherever they are.

This means that whether you are in the office, working from home, or relaxing on a beach somewhere, as long as you have an internet connection, you can join the phone call.

Virtual Receptionist

VoIP phones also work well with virtual receptionists, which are vital for any small business that receives a lot of calls. When someone calls, a virtual receptionist automatically directs them through to the correct person. Many companies have used these features for a long time, but they were usually quite expensive.

These receptionists also serve to make your business look more professional for a fraction of the cost of old automated systems. By customizing your messages, you can also include extra information about your business that clients can listen to before they are redirected.

They also help to improve your efficiency by directing all phone calls to the correct person, reducing call times, and improving the overall flow of communications.

Voicemail

Voicemail is nothing new, but VoIP has revolutionized the technology. With VoIP, you are in complete control of when you receive calls and from whom you receive them. You can prioritize which numbers your phone lets through and easily screen incoming calls, sending them directly to voicemail.

One more incredible benefit is that you can set your VoIP voicemail to transcribe your voicemails, which the system then emails to you. This can save you some time and reduce headaches, particularly if you have a high volume of voicemails. You can easily scan through them rather than listening to each one individually.

Unified Communications

Using VoIP phones, you can do more than just voice calls. With most services, you can make video calls, send messages, and screen share, among other features. Previously, many of these operations would run on separate programs or use multiple pieces of hardware.

VoIP phones group all these features into one place, which is yet another example of the efficiency it can provide.

Forwarding Calls

VoIP’s main selling point is that it uses the internet rather than landlines to make calls. But even if your connection goes down, you will not necessarily be without phones. With VoIP phones, users can easily forward their calls to mobile phones and other devices. Since they usually have their own connections to the internet, any problems with your primary internet connection shouldn’t affect them.

This helps to solve a massive problem that affects traditional phone lines, as it adds an extra layer of security. Where before, bad weather or technical issues could put your phones out of action, businesses now have a backup, should anything go wrong.

Moving Your Business

A business owner wants to see their business grow. But scaling up a business comes with extra costs that sometimes make this difficult, even if revenue is increasing. VoIP comes with many cost-cutting features to help you grow your business, beyond just having multiple devices using one number.

Changing your number or keeping it the same when you move can be a lengthy, complicated process. Since VoIP phone numbers have no area codes, you can easily keep your number wherever you go. If you need to find new office space, your VoIP phone number will not change just because you have transferred operations to another side of town.

The Main Disadvantage

Since these devices use different technology, VoIP phones have one disadvantage that traditional phones do not. You must be certain that you have a strong internet connection and a high level of bandwidth, unless you are willing to keep forwarding calls to other devices. Without these, you will experience a few problems that legacy phones avoid.

As with any internet-based technology, latency and jittering are still an issue with VoIP phones. Latency is the delay that you sometimes experience in receiving messages, and jittering is when the messages come through in the wrong order. VoIP phones disassemble the data you are sending through from your end and reassemble it at the other. Latency and jittering occur when the data reassembles incorrectly.

However, these problems have relatively simple fixes. If you switch to using VoIP phones and are having any of these issues in your office, try upgrading your internet’s speed or purchasing better ethernet cables.

VoIP numbers are becoming more and more common since they deliver a modern solution to modern problems. They offer features that customers are coming to expect from businesses of all sizes and are helping to cut costs across the board.

Many people already know what a VoIP phone is, whether they have heard the term or not. But without realizing exactly how to use them, they are permitting many of their key features to go to waste.