wouldn't want to pay less for their phone service? That's just one
of the advantages VoIP can offer. It helps to understand what the
technology is, how it works and how proper planning makes all the
difference between success and failure.
According to a recent study only 12
percent of the people surveyed were familiar with the concept of
those that knew it related to some type of phone service, even fewer
understood how it actually worked. Given those statistics, now seems
like good time for a quick overview of VoIP and how it relates to
In this article we'll focus more on
VoIP in a small business environment as opposed to those specific to
a home user. However, the majority of this discussion applies to
Let's begin with something important
to all small business owner — money. Consider this, a report
published by TeleNomic Research reports that small businesses
(companies with fewer than 500 employees) spend on average $543.17
per month for telecommunications services; 89 percent of which are
for local, long distance and wireless telephone services.
Yet high telephone bills are only one
aspect of the expenses small business owners face when it comes to
their telecommunication systems. Traditional telephone systems are
typically difficult to manage and support. They require their own
communication lines, custom hardware, and usually a special support
team. Just adding or removing a single user could cost hundreds of
dollars. Not to mention the cost of adding additional extensions.
There was a time when you had no
choice but to pay these prices simply because you couldn't get these
services anywhere else. Today, though, you have more options.
Imagine a local phone number that followed you anywhere. Take a VoIP
phone on the road, and you can place or receive calls from almost
anywhere as if you were sitting at your desk. Since your phone
number is mobile you can make "local" calls back home or call around
the globe without worrying about cell phone roaming or hotel
Key Terms To
Understanding VoIP for Business:
Short for Voice over Internet Protocol, a category of hardware and
software that enables people to use the Internet as the transmission
medium for telephone calls.
Short for Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol, the suite
of communications protocols used to connect hosts on the Internet.
Short for Public Switched Telephone Network, which refers to the
international telephone system based on copper wires carrying analog
The science of translating sound into electrical signals,
transmitting them, and then converting them back to sound; that is,
the science of telephones.
Also, imagine getting your phone messages
forwarded to your notebook as e-mail attachments. Think of how helpful it
would he to archive phone messages and conversations (with the other party's
consent, of course) as electronic files on your computer. And consider if
this came with great features like call waiting/forwarding, voicemail and
three-way calling at no extra charge. That is what VoIP can do for you.
VoIP allows you to make telephone calls using
a broadband Internet connection instead of using a regular analog phone
line. Some services using VoIP may allow you to call only other people using
the same service, but other services will allow you to call anyone who has a
telephone number — including local, long distance, mobile, and international
numbers. Also, while some services work only over your computer or a special
VoIP phone, still, other services allow you to use a traditional phone
through an adaptor.
How VoIP Works
VoIP is a collection of digitally encrypted voice transmissions that are
carried over a
network based on a single common language, or
protocol — in
this case, the Internet Protocol
converts the voice signal from your telephone into a digital signal that
travels over the Internet and is then converted back at the other end, so
you can speak to anyone with a regular phone number. When placing a VoIP
call using a phone with an adapter, you'll hear a dial tone and dial just as
you always have. VoIP may also allow you to make a call directly from a
computer using a conventional telephone or a microphone.
VoIP works as a
peer-to-peer application, entailing handshaking and direct media
exchange between two IP
devices,. To call
someone, the user dials the telephone number, the handset translates that
number into IP
address format (e.g., 123.456.11.22), and the device sends encrypted
data packets whose
payloads contain messages conforming to a particular call-setup protocol
between the two devices. They then establish a common connection for voice
exchange. Their device rings, they pick up, and media packets flow in both
To better understand how VoIP works, it's
helpful to compare it to how conventional phone calls operate. When you
place a "regular" phone call using the Public Switched Telephone
PSTN (also known as
POTS, for Plain Old Telephone Service)
it's known as a circuit-switched telephony, because it sets up a dedicated
connection between two points for the duration of the call.
VoIP, on the other hand, is known as
telephony, because the voice information travels to its destination in
countless individual network packets across the Internet. This type of
communication presents special TCP/IP challenges because the Internet wasn't
really designed for the kind of real-time communication a phone call
represents. Individual packets may — and almost always do — take different
paths to the same place. It's not enough to simply get VoIP packets to their
destination. The packets must arrive in a fairly narrow time window and be
assembled in the correct order to be intelligible to the recipient.
To improve performance, VoIP employs encoding
schemes and compression technology to reduce the size of the voice packets
so they can be transmitted more efficiently. Audio signals are also
digitally processed in order to accentuate the voice information and
suppress background noise. To conserve
systems stop transmitting during lulls in a conversation and even generate
some "comfort noise" to forestall the eerie silence that might make you
think the call was disconnected.
VoIP uses a number of compression standards
that offer different balances between packet size and audio quality.
Generally speaking, the higher the compression the more simultaneous calls
you can have, but the lower voice quality will be.
Despite all of the advantages of a VoIP
system, it does have its drawbacks. For instance, some VoIP services will
not work during power outages and the service provider may not offer any
type of back-up power solution. Many VoIP providers may not offer directory
assistance or white pages listings which is essential to the small business.
Preparing for VoIP
The key to success with VoIP ultimately comes down to proper planning. The
scope of a VoIP implementation can vary according to an organization's needs
and desires, ranging from the relatively straightforward - using VoIP for
local and long-distance calls or to communicate between a company's multiple
offices - to more complex deployments like call centers.
In most cases, saving money immediately with
VoIP won't require you to purchase any additional phone equipment or
jettison what you already have, because devices called
let conventional phone equipment (ranging from individual phones to an
entire PBX) interface
with your Internet connection. Taking advantage of VoIP's most cutting-edge
features (like the ability to have your calls follow you as you travel)
typically require specialized VoIP phones or other equipment and/or a hosted
~ By Ronald V. Pacchiano
Adapted from PracticallyNetworked.
Last updated: May 05, 2006
VoIP and the Small Business
If you're a smart businessperson, you're probably always looking for new ways to
maximize efficiency and minimize costs. One of the ways you may be thinking
about is trying out Internet telephony and VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol),
which lets you use the Internet to make and receive phone calls.
Meets WiFi - An Introduction to VoIP, WiFi and VoWiFi
The advances of VoIP and Internet telephony in general have come a long way
since their inception. Most recently, the "next big thing" has been to merge
Wi-Fi with VoIP, producing one of the oddest acronyms you'll ever see. VoWiFi.
VoWiFi, or Voice over Wireless Fidelity, simply means a Wi-Fi based VoIP service
. or in even more general terms, a wireless based VoIP system.
Kit on VoIP
Confused about whether Voice over IP is the way for your business to go? You're
not the only one. The technology has been gaining steam in the tech press during
the past year, while federal lawmakers and regulators wrangle over who will have
the regulatory upper hand.
Enterprise VoIP Planet
The IT Manager's Guide to Voice over IP
PracticallyNetworked.com provides easy-to-understand help for small-network
builders. The site contains how-to information for setting up and debugging
home-office and small-business networks. Users can also find extensive
troubleshooting information, tips on getting applications to work through
firewalls, product reviews on network hardware and software, and more.
If network connections, sharing computers, router problems or other networking
issues are bogging you down, then the PracticallyNetworked.com discussion forum
is the place to be. Here you'll find help and support for all your
Provides technology solutions for small business owners, hardware/software
reviews, webmaster resources and news.
All about Voice Over IP and Internet Based Telephony.
Computer Telephony Portal
A comprehensive directory with more than 600 links to industry sites and CTI
information sources as well as Voice over Frame Relay, Voice over Internet and
telephony standards pages.