Voice over Internet Protocol. It's sometimes called IP telephony.
It's a way of sending information from one computer to another. The information is broken into digital packets, with each packet having extra information that says where it came from, where it's supposed to go, and how the parts should be reassembled on the other end.
No, though the Internet can be part of it. With VoIP, the sounds going into the telephone are turned into a digital stream of ones and zeros. They can get to their destination on any combination of the Internet, dedicated digital circuits and regular phone lines until they reach the telephone on the other end.
With VoIP, a business can integrate its phones and its computers. Applications such as speech recognition, voice mail, interactive voice response, call center applications and simple Web-based management tools can all run on a single system.
When your phones are integrated with your company's computers you are faster and better at helping your customers and getting other work done. For example, incoming phone calls can automatically show information on the computer screen that's associated with the incoming phone number, even for someone working from a remote site. It cuts down on telephone toll charges and telephone management costs by letting an organizations' network administrators handle moves, adds and changes.
It was first made available in the mid-1990s.
Very. Three-quarters of large companies in the U.S. have already made the switch to IP telephony. InfoNetics Research predicts that by 2010, 50 percent of smaller organizations will be using VoIP. InfoNetics also reports that many midsize and small companies are decommissioning their traditional phone systems altogether, which shows confidence in VoIP technology.
Yes, you need an IP-based telephone or an IP to analog adapter.
You need a high-speed internet connection and a power outlet.
No. If a company already has an up-to-date data network, there may be little to add on for VoIP. Moreover, VoIP can pay for itself in a matter of months through cost savings alone. After that it contributes to a better bottom line through enhanced customer service and improved employee productivity plus cost savings.
No. VoIP calls sound like any other phone call when designed properly.
It can be very secure. Data security doesn't come automatically with VoIP, but knowledgeable and experienced engineers will implement VoIP securely.
Certain cell phones are capable of it today and many more are in the works. Some predict this capability will, over time, have cellular phones become the primary device used by many users while in the office (without running up a huge cellular bill; in this case the cellular phone is acting like a phone on the IP Telephony system).
For every day purposes, yes. You can think of VoIP and IP telephony as two terms for the same technology. Literally speaking, VoIP refers to the way information is moved while IP telephony refers to the enhanced capabilities you get as a result.
An IP communications solution can include such features as unified messaging (explained below), contact center applications such as Customer Relationship Management (CRM) that are integrated with other applications, and rich-media conferencing including the ability to communicate with voice and video.
Any type of message -- voice, e-mail, fax or text -- can go out over the system and be retrieved from a single in-box.
VoIP does require an Internet connection and a power supply. A backup generator or batteries can keep the system running during a power failure.
In a hosted VoIP system, the equipment is located off site, run by an outside provider (or host) and shared among the host's customers. A hosted solution can be a good way for some organizations to begin moving toward VoIP. However hosted solutions often have unreliable connectivity. When determining if hosting would be a good choice it's important to check the track record of the provider with long-term clients.
Highly capable internal IT staff and directors have a good head start on understanding VoIP, but it does require some new learning. SOS often co-deploys systems with organizations who wish to self-maintain their system, providing knowledge transfer along the way.
It can be. The best way to find out is for someone who understands VoIP to review the company's needs and see what tools can best be brought to bear.
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