It all started with the inventor of the telephone Alexander Graham Bell, on March 10, 1876, to his assistant, Thomas Watson, “Mr. Watson-come here-I want to see you”.  In today’s business world the telephone is still needed to conduct business.  The very first phones were directly connected to each other and could support only a few connections.  This included customer’s offices or residences, over time this became impractical, and the landline came into existence around the early 1900’s.  A landline is where each phone is connected by a pair of dedicated wires to a centrally located switching system.  Landlines have been on the decline in households but are still a viable solution for businesses.  As technology changes, how do companies adapt?  One of the best solutions is Voice over Internet Protocol or VoIP.  So on to the nuts and bolts of what exactly is VoIP and how can it help your business!

So what exactly is VoIP?

VoIP has been around for about ten years.  VoIP is just a process of taking analog audio signals and converting them into digital data that is transmitted over the internet.  VoIP has the potential of turning the telephone industry upside down.  Providers such as Vonage, along with carriers such as AT&T have set up markets around the United States to make it more readily available.  VoIP is an emerging technology with the vast potential of one day replacing the standard telephone system.

Features of VoIP

The features that VoIP companies are offering include what many traditional phone companies are charging extra for which include:

  • Caller ID
  • Call Waiting
  • Call transfer
  • Repeat dial
  • Return call
  • Three-way calling
  • Web Based Voicemail
  • Voicemail via Email

There are some advanced features that may be available from some carriers.  A feature such as caller ID information can allow you to make choices on how calls from a particular number are handled.

For example:

  • Forward the call to an appropriate number
  • Send the call directly to voice mail
  • Give the caller a busy signal
  • Play “not-in-service” message

Advantages of VoIP

  • Low Cost – Through the use of a fast internet connection you can make PC to PC phone calls anywhere in the world for free.  PC to phone connection, there more than likely will be a charge but will be cheaper than your regular phone service.
  • Portability – By signing into your VoIP account you can make and receive phone calls wherever there is a broadband connection.  Additionally, it is convenient, and you just need a headset or an Internet phone, and you can talk for next to nothing.
  • User Control Interface – Most of the VoIP providers will provide a user interface control, usually a web Graphical User Interface (GUI), to their customers so that features and options can be changed.  This can include changing call forwarding numbers, speed-dial and other information.

Disadvantages of VoIP

  • Continuous Electrical Power – If there is a blackout, internet phones will go out, and there will be no VoIP service.  The use of battery backups or power generators is a good solution in providing electricity.
  • Limited Emergency Calls – When an emergency call to 911 is needed, there is currently no way to determine the originating location as with a traditional phone.  The correct usage of E911 is important so that when an emergency comes along, the right information is being provided.
  • Sound Quality and Reliability – There may be some providers that have issues with sound quality and reliability.  Currently, strong strides are being made in increasing the reliability and usefulness of VoIP.

The advantages of VoIP definitely outweigh any of its disadvantages.  The greatest advantages are the cost and features, and the greatest disadvantage can be the call quality.   This technology will be expanding for years to come and all of these disadvantages can be overcome with the right partner.

How VoIP can help your Business

Answering calls can be daunting if you do not have the right equipment.  A receptionist answering all the calls for an organization can be overwhelmed in making sure all are forwarded or messages distributed properly.  Other businesses take advantage of a call center, but if this is not correctly setup than the company could lose a sale or have an unsatisfied customer.  To combat these issues using VoIP along with a PBX system is the ultimate way to go. PBX stands for Private Branch Exchange, it handles internal traffic between stations and acts as a gatekeeper.  PBX is also known as IP PBX and is a business phone system, that works like a central switching system for phone calls within a business.

The original intent of a PBX was to use make use of limited resources and share a small group of lines across a much larger pool of stations.  When PBXs were originally developed the only type of phone calls were wired. In today’s communications, we have expanded our horizons to include email, instant messaging, video conferencing, desktop sharing, and mobile telephony.

Features of the IP PBX

There are so many features of an IP PBX here are just a few:

  • VoIP ready
  • VoIP messaging
  • Mobility
  • Conferencing
  • Reporting
  • 24×7 Network Monitoring
  • 24×7 PBX monitoring
  • Back-up/Restore all system settings
  • Analog phone and visual message waiting support
  • Call Forwarding (busy, no answer, on/off)
  • Auto-attendant
  • Caller ID display (external and internal)
  • Phone trees

One of the best features of using an IP PBX is CRM Integration.  Through the use of CRM Integration of your software, you have the capability of having your customer’s information at your fingertips.  This can be an automatic feature which will enable you to provide better customer service, allowing you be ahead of the game with CRM Integration in place for your team.

As stated above the auto attendant feature is unique in that you do not need a receptionist to answer the incoming calls.  Through the use of the auto attendant, it can be turned on or off as required. It is especially useful for after hours or on holidays or as a back up to a receptionist by the use of a predetermined number of rings before the call is answered.

Affordability can be scaled to your business needs. From a frequently traveling sales force to more employees telecommuting, you can reduce communication costs and have higher employee productivity by using an IP PBX phone system.  Regardless of an employee’s location, phone trees can be set up to act as a “local” extension, which will help reduce long distance costs and allow employees to work from a home office.  Security is a very large concern regarding VoIP. On Deck has you covered by using both secure host servers and SSL certificates to make ensure your system is safe from cyber attacks.

On Deck IT Services uses Peplink and Yealink as their vendors of choice in providing you the highest quality parts and service.  Your business needs an advocate, and you need to look no further.  On Deck IT Services has you covered as North Alabama’s technology experts.