To give it its technical name, VoIP stands for “Voice over Internet Protocol”. In simpler terms, it means making calls through the internet instead of a phone line. It might seem like quite a basic difference- and it is. But in today’s interconnected world, it really opens up your options. You can call other phones, tablets, and computers- all from one device. Telecoms companies are investing huge amounts in this new tech, so VoIP is set to become the new standard. A compatible model is future-proof- and gives you all the benefits that come with VoIP.
How does VoIP work?
Traditional phone calls work by using a process called “circuit switching”. All phone lines are linked by exchanges, and switched in this exchange are flipped to directly link you to whoever you need to call. With a VoIP phone your voice is converted into digital information which can be sent like any other data over the internet. In the past this process would seriously deteriorate the quality of the call. However, thanks to improved systems which now give priority to voice calls over data, the quality of VoIP is now arguably at the same level as a landline calls.
VoIP has also come a long way in terms of choice. There are plenty of VoIP providers now established in the UK, and their services come in several different forms:
- PC to PC – The most common form of VoIP, and the cheapest- in virtually all cases, it’s free. With a webcam, PC to PC VoIP also allows you to make video calls. Skype is by far the best-known provider of this type of service.
- PC to telephone network – It’s also possible to call VoIP phones directly from your PC, and vice-versa. The biggest advantage of this is that you can make calls all over the world at a much cheaper rate than even a domestic landline call.
- Telephone network to telephone network – Naturally, VoIP phones can also be used to call each other. In many cases, such as with the Gigaset GO range, it’s free to call other handsets of the same brand.
What is a VoIP Phone?
VoIP phones come in two main types: hardware-based and software-based. These terms are fairly self-explanatory. Hardware-based VoIP involves using a physical VoIP phone, which works almost exactly the same as a traditional phone. The only difference is in how you connect to the other end of the line. Software-based VoIP, meanwhile, takes the form of an app installed on your computer or smartphone. You can use these apps to make calls directly, but they need a microphone or headset to be connected to the device to do this.
Cordless VoIP Phones
For convenience, Cordless VoIP Phones are the optimal choice. That’s because they allow you to roam around as you make calls, without tying you to the base. Most cordless phones have a range of up to 50m indoors, which you can boost up to 100m with repeaters. You're also able to connect extra handsets to each individual base. Each user can then make calls at the same time- perfect for busy offices!
Related: Top 10 Best VoIP Cordless Phones
Cordless phones have become the norm, but you’ll still find some VoIP Deskphones out there. Most of these come in the form of desk phones for the office. Their main advantage over cordless VoIP phones is their ease of functionality. They come with a larger screen, making it easier to navigate through menus to find what you’re looking for. Some models, like the Polycom VVX 600, can be make cordless by linking them up to a Bluetooth headset.
VoIP Conference Phones
VoIP phones have proved particularly popular with business users. For that reason, there are many different VoIP conference phones available as well. These dedicated conference phones feature up to six microphones around a single base. Everyone around a table can give their input and still come through loud and clear. Conference calling can be expensive, but VoIP slashes that cost down massively. Depending on your chosen model, the calls could even be free!
VoIP-Only vs. VoIP + Landline Phones
If you’re completely sold on VoIP, then you can always opt for a model that only offers this functionality. VoIP phones only need an internet connection to function. As long as you can plug them into this, you’re ready to go, wherever you might be. That said, many of our VoIP phones also come with the option to hook them up to a landline as well. You might think that this is a bit of a strange option to have. After all, isn’t VoIP meant to replace landline calls in the future?
In fact, though, that landline option can come in handy in practise. For a start, not everyone has access to VoIP calls, so they wouldn’t be able to get in touch with you. Having the option of landline calls keeps your line of communication open to all. This is especially useful for businesses who deal with lots of customer calls. A landline phone also gives you better audio quality if your internet connection is slow.
What are the Pros and Cons of VoIP?
Of course, VoIP phones aren’t the only way of making these types of calls. One of the main reasons why VoIP as a concept has taken off is because of how flexible it is. You can make VoIP calls on a variety of different devices, so it's ideal for modern life. For instance, if you want to make a VoIP call from the comfort of your desk, then a PC and headset setup is the ideal way to go. If you’d prefer to chat from the sofa using your mobile, then there are a range of different apps to choose from. Skype and Viber are the market leaders here.
We’ve answered the question “what is VoIP” and shown you the various options available. let’s take a look at some of the benefits these cutting-edge pieces of kit can bring to you.
- VoIP Calls Are So Much Cheaper - By far the biggest advantage of VoIP phones is the cost. They can help to cut the cost of calls by a jaw-dropping amount. This reason alone explains VoIP’s staggering rise in popularity. The exact price of VoIP calls depends on your service provider. In almost all cases, though, it's a lot less than a standard telephone call- and in some instances, it’s even free!
- No Extra Charges For International Calls - We all know that sinking feeling that comes with dialing abroad- is this going to end up costing a fortune? Since VoIP calls are all made through the internet, there aren’t usually any extra costs to phone abroad. VoIP puts international calls within everyone’s budget!
- VoIP + Landline Phones Cover All Bases - While VoIP calls are convenient, their quality depends on your broadband speed. Landline calls, though, are much more reliable. High-end models like the Gigaset SL450A GO, though, always give you crystal-clear sound. It’s handy to have this option available if you need it, for instance if your internet went down. It also allows you to keep connected to those who may not have access to VoIP calls.
- VoIP Phones Are Easy To Scale Up Or Down - Planning on expanding your business in the future, but only need a smaller phone system for now? Then VoIP is definitely your best bet. That’s because you can add new handsets- and even whole new VoIP lines and numbers- whenever you need to.
- You Can Move Them From One Location To Another - Move home or offices often, but sick of having to keep giving everyone your new number? That’s a thing of the past with VoIP. Need to get your phones set up fast without the expense of paying someone to fit a new phone line? VoIP lets you do exactly that. You can even take your VoIP phone away on holiday or between offices to stay connected. It opens up a whole new world of possibilities when it comes to your phone service!
- It's Dependent On A Strong Internet Connection - If you have fibre-optic broadband, then you shouldn’t have any trouble when making VoIP calls. If you suffer from low speeds, though, you might find that the connection drops during calls.
- Security Issues Could Be A Problem - Cybercriminals are always looking for new ways to scam people. Unfortunately, as VoIP gets bigger and bigger, it’s only going to become more of a target. VoIP lines are less secure because the call goes through the internet. That makes it easier for hackers to tamper with, or even eavesdrop on, your conversations.
- VoIP Is Vulnerable To Spamming - VoIP phones come linked to an IP address- which third-parties can easily get hold of. This leaves them as open to spam as an email account. In these cases, spammers can fill up your voicemail with annoying messages. While this isn’t that commonplace yet, it’s still a possibility. Plus, as with VoIP hacking, this is only going to become more frequent as time goes on.
- Issues With Emergency Calls - All phone lines are, by default, registered with the emergency services. This lets them see where you’re calling from as soon as you're connected. Yet this isn't possible with VoIP lines, since they are portable. These calls are also dependent on a stable broadband connection. For that reason, it’s better to make emergency calls from your mobile or a landline.
It's time to make the switch to VoIP today!
Now you know what VoIP has to offer, you might be wondering what your options are. Luckily, liGo has got you covered there, too, as we’ve got plenty of different models to choose from. Gigaset GO models, like the Gigaset S850A GO, allow you to make free calls between other GO handsets. That makes them the obvious choice for anyone interested in VoIP cordless phones. These high-end models also come loaded with features and provide outstanding audio quality. You really can’t go wrong with one of these models!