What is VoIP and why do small businesses need it?

Alexander Graham Bell did great things for today’s small businesses when he invented the telephone more than 140 years ago. But with technology evolving in ways that Bell could only have dreamed about, could SMEs be losing out by sticking to such traditional methods of communication?

The telephone has remained a mainstay in modern comms for good reason, but, as a result, many SMEs are overlooking the benefits offered by advancements in Voice over Internet Protocol.

VoIP may sound complicated, but in simple terms it involves the use of the Internet to make calls. While conventional telephone services often involve line limitations, long-term contracts, expensive tariffs and a lack of portability, VoIP systems, on the other hand, can offer a far more cost effective and flexible option for SMEs.

How does VoIP work?

Here’s the science bit! When a call is made using a traditional phone network, a singular circuit-switch channel creates a connection between the caller and the recipient using copper wires. VoIP, however, uses packet switching, which transforms analogue audio into digital data that can be transmitted via the internet, just like an email. Because many individual packets are used, the process is far more efficient.

Despite its origins in the 1970s, VoIP has significantly increased in popularity in the past few years as earlier problems with poor sound quality have been overcome. It now offers a credible alternative to traditional landline calls, with the added advantages of providing a more integrated and cost effective system. It is flexible too, with many VoIP services and options on offer throughout the UK, including PC to PC, PC to telephone network, telephone network to telephone network, and IP phone to telephone network.

If you’re not sure which VoIP solution is right for your business, just ask.

VoIP benefits explored:

If you still need a little more convincing, VoIP services offer a wide range of benefits that are particularly pertinent to small businesses:

  • Shorter contracts – With systems purchased outright and shorter carrier contracts, businesses are not tied into lengthy or expensive agreements.
  • Cost effectivity – Set-up, running and support costs of VoIP services are far lower than traditional telephone alternatives, with call charges either completely free or significantly lower than traditional tariffs.
  • Efficiency – Migration from analogue to digital telephone networks is straightforward, and having a single network for both calls and data delivers a more streamlined approach for SMEs.
  • Remote access – The multi-site capabilities of VoIP systems mean that out-of-office, branch and remote workers can use their services from any location, as long as they have Internet access. For SMEs with global clients and customers this is particularly beneficial, as most service suppliers provide free international calls.
  • Increased functionality – The integrated nature of VoIP services allows for varied computer applications to be linked to the phone system, including both inbound IVR and outbound call centre applications. Other options also include caller ID, call diversion, do not disturb and three-way calling – all of benefit to savvy organisations throughout the UK.

Think a VoIP system could benefit your business? Talk to us about what’s possible, or let us assess your approach to telephony at the same time as us carrying out a free IT audit.

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