Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) lets users make phone calls over the internet. It’s an alternative to traditional phone lines and mobile. These services allow you to use your existing work phone with new VoIP configurations. Here’s how to setup VoIP for your company to harness all the advantage it offers.
The evolution of VoIP technology and its integration into businesses
Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) technology has witnessed a remarkable evolution since its inception, fundamentally transforming the way businesses communicate.
This technology has its roots in the mid-20th century. Its integration into the corporate world has reshaped the landscape of modern communications.
Early beginnings: The emergence of VoIP
The concept of transmitting voice signals over data networks was first conceived in the 1970s. Early experiments and research on packet-switched networks laid the foundation for voice internet protocol later on.
However, the practical implementation of this innovative idea didn’t occur until the 1990s. Then, the development of the internet as a global communication platform paved the way.
1990s: The birth of the VoIP phone system
The 1990s witnessed the emergence of the first VoIP phone systems. These early services allowed users to make voice calls over the internet. They were plagued with voice quality issues and lack of compatibility with traditional telephone networks.
Early 2000s: VoIP maturation and enterprise adoption
The early 2000s marked a period of maturation for VoIP technology. Improved internet speeds, enhanced codecs, and the development of standardized protocols contributed to better voice quality and reliability. This prompted businesses to take notice of the cost-saving potential of VoIP. The business VoIP system was born.
One of the pivotal moments in VoIP’s history was the introduction of Session Initiation Protocol. SIP is a standardized voice internet protocol for initiating and managing communication sessions over IP networks. SIP became the foundation for many VoIP phone systems and services.
Mid-2000s: Mass adoption of VoIP by enterprises
Around the mid-2000s, VoIP technology began gaining widespread adoption among enterprises. This shift was driven by several factors:
- Cost savings: a VoIP phone system offered a cost-effective alternative to traditional telephone systems. Businesses could significantly reduce their communication expenses by routing calls over the internet.
- Feature-rich solutions: Advanced business VoIP systems like VoipNow provided a wide range of features and functionalities that were previously unavailable with traditional telephony. These included voicemail, call forwarding, audio conferencing, and more.
- Scalability: VoIP allowed for easy scalability. As businesses grew, they could effortlessly add new VoIP phone lines or extensions without the need for complex infrastructure changes.
- Remote work: The rise of remote work made the VoIP phone system even more appealing. Simply because it enabled employees to stay connected regardless of their location.
In 2006, 4PSA was the first company in the world to introduce a communication platform that enabled service providers to offer affordable VoIP services to companies worldwide. VoipNow was an advanced business VoIP system and a state-of-the-art substitute for traditional PBX boxes.
Late 2000s: Integration with Unified Communications
Towards the late 2000s, VoIP became a core component of unified communications (UC) solutions. UC platforms integrated various communication tools, such as voice, video, instant messaging, and conferencing, into a single interface. This integration streamlined communication within businesses, enhancing productivity and collaboration.
2010s: Cloud-based VoIP and beyond
The 2010s marked a significant shift towards cloud-based VoIP solutions. Cloud VoIP, also known as hosted VoIP or UCaaS, eliminated the need for on-premises hardware. It enabled businesses to access advanced communication features via the internet. This model offered flexibility, scalability, and reduced management overhead.
Additionally, the proliferation of mobile smart devices enabled employees to use VoIP provider features on the go. This extended the reach of VoIP and facilitated more flexible work arrangements.
Present day: VoIP in the age of digital transformation
In the present day, VoIP has become an integral part of business communication. It plays a pivotal role in digital transformation initiatives. It offers businesses the ability to leverage data-driven insights and automation. In turn, these contribute to enhancing customer experience and streamlining internal operations.
Furthermore, VoIP has evolved beyond traditional voice communication. Video conferencing, instant messaging, and collaboration tools have been seamlessly integrated into VoIP platforms. This convergence has facilitated remote work, global collaboration, and real-time decision-making.
The adoption of VoIP technology by businesses has been driven by its myriad benefits:
- Cost efficiency: VoIP reduces communication costs, especially for long-distance and international calls.
- Scalability: VoIP systems can easily accommodate the growth of businesses, making them highly scalable.
- Enhanced features: VoIP offers a range of features like call routing, voicemail-to-email, call recording, and more, enhancing overall productivity.
- Remote work: VoIP supports remote work. It enables employees to stay connected from anywhere with an internet connection.
- Integration: VoIP can be seamlessly integrated with other business applications, streamlining processes and enhancing collaboration.
- Global reach: VoIP enables businesses to establish a global presence with local and toll-free numbers in various regions.
Future Outlook: VoIP in the digital age
In summary, the journey of VoIP technology from its inception to its integration into businesses has been marked by continuous innovation and transformation.
Today, it stands as a cornerstone of modern communication, offering companies the tools they need to thrive in an increasingly digital world. VoIP has not only revolutionized how businesses communicate. It has also been instrumental in driving efficiency, cost savings, and enhanced collaboration in the corporate world.
As we look to the future, VoIP is poised to continue its evolution.
How to setup VoIP phone system?
The type of software platform you choose for your business will determine which VoIP setup is best for your team. Follow this guide to install VoIP services within your organization and train your team on how to use them.
1. Make sure your internet can keep up
There are many reasons why more business owners are switching to VoIP services. They want a business phone number without setting up clunky landlines. They want employees to be able to receive calls when they are working remotely. They want clearer calls. However, to use these features at their full potential, your internet connection must be stable.
Start by testing the Internet speed. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) says VoIP can work with download speeds that are below 0.5 Mbps. For comparison, most social media sites need internet speeds of at least 1 Mbps. Video streaming services need three to four Mbps. This means you don’t need an excessively fast internet service provider to use this technology.
However, your internet speed can be affected by bandwidth. Your VoIP quality could also be affected by multiple employees using the system at once.
One way to check whether your internet can handle VoIP is with a speed test. There are multiple internet speed tests online that track the download and upload time of users in Mbps. You can test network internet at your office or ask remote employees to test their internet at home. Once you know that your internet can handle VoIP phone system, you can move forward.
2. Evaluate your potential hardware investment
As you meet with different providers, ask about their VoIP hardware requirements. Various VoIP service providers have different guidelines for how their technology works. Some services are handled entirely online. Others require specific routers and even proprietary VoIP desk phones.
A VoIP service that requires specific phones might not be the best choice for your business. For example, you need to make sure each employee has that specific phone. Remote employees need to receive their desk phones handsets. Next they need to set up VoIP phone at home. When these employees leave the company, they will need to return the devices. This is why many companies look for VoIP platforms like VoipNow that are fully digital. It allows for greater flexibility and a less cumbersome setup process.
Will it co investing in VoIP hardware will cost more for your business and how this will affect your budget.
3. Look for VoIP software providers
Business owners need to find VoIP providers that offer the right features for their business. Every company has its own general requirements and call needs depending on its brand and industry. Create a list of must-have features and optional features as you look at different tools. This can help you prioritize the best providers.
A few key features that you may want from your VoIP provider include:
- Advanced call routing
- Automatic answering services that guide incoming calls
- Caller ID and relevant information
- Team chat in one-to-one messages or group chats
- Video calling options
- Audio conferences
- Document sharing
- Extension virtualization, also known as hot desking
- Remote login options
- Integrations with other tools and services
Also, uninterrupted access is important when your employees leave the office. If your sales team attends conferences or meets with customers, then you’ll likely need it.
Additionally, you may want a business VoIP system that has analytics. It’s important to make informed decisions by having access to detailed information. Keep track of all the calls made and received by all the extensions in the system. In VoipNow, for example, you can search for specific calls using the available criteria:
- From number
- To number
- Account name
- Charging plan
- Call ID
- Caller IP
- Network code
- Channel prefix
- SIP Call ID
- Called DID
- PRI channel
- Call duration
- Call cost
- The way the call ended – answered, not answered, busy, failed, unknown, not allowed
- Hangup cause
And you can also specify the time frame for the search. This data will enable your employees to optimize VoIP performance.
4. Choose your business number
Another thing to consider with a VoIP system is your business phone number. If you operate a startup, this may be the first phone number you have. You can choose a vanity number or request a number with a specific area code. An example is 888-WE-PLUMB for a plumbing service.
If your business isn’t new, you likely already have a phone number. Ask your VoIP provider if they can port this DID. If it can’t be done, don’t forget to update all of your marketing materials. This includes your website and online listings, along with employee business cards.
Your VoIP provider might also offer individual numbers for employees. You can keep your main number and have extra numbers for your sales team or customer service representatives. Consider if this option is right for you.
5. How to setup a VoIP phone?
To set up a VoIP phone, you just need to follow a few simple steps:
- First, test network internet.
- Next, connect your desk VoIP phones to your internet network.
- Configure the phone with the appropriate VoIP service credentials
- Test VoIP lines and the connection to ensure clear calls.
Regardless of whether you use online tools or hardware phones, you will need to provision users to your VoIP software platform. This is the process of assigning a business phone number and different extensions to employees. If you have multiple numbers, then you’ll need to setup that as well.
Your provider may also help you with the provisioning process. For example, VoipNow comes with an automated phone provisioning system that includes provisioning templates for various supported VoIP phone brands, models, and firmware versions. This system helps you set and afterwards maintain identical configurations for a large number of such SIP devices.
6. How to setup your VoIP hardware?
Once you have an agreement with a set VoIP provider, you can begin the setup process. In most cases, your business VoIP system will be easy to set up. You will plug a physical phone into a router or VoIP phone adapter that is connected to the internet. Even if you’re only using a software service, there is still a setup process.
Like any phone service, test the technology to make sure your small business VoIP service works. Check the dial tone before making a call. Alternatively, use the call control button to make sure everything does what it says it does. You can easily do a test call with another employee and by calling from an outside number.
Once you test VoIP lines and confirm their quality, you can move forward with your service as if you are using any other system.
7. Train your staff members on VoIP
The final step in the VoIP setup process is to train your team on the tools. Set aside time to discuss with team about the new phone system. Review different features that your employees can use. You can even create demonstrations for your employees.
Make sure you answer questions and address concerns. You want your employees to feel confident with VoIP so they use the system. The right training can increase employee VoIP adoption.
Track how VoIP improves your workflow
The goal of VoIP services is to create a better phone experience. Your business can have clearer calls and fewer issues with dropped calls. Furthermore, you need to make sure your VoIP hardware and software systems are easy to use. If the VoIP training process is complicated, your employees will get frustrated. So make it simple and efficient.
Watch your team use your VoIP system to see how long it takes employees to learn. Don’t forget that an advanced VoIP system will ensure a better experience and a streamlined communication process. This can improve your ROI and showcase how VoIP empowers your business.