VoIP is a technology that lets you make phone calls over the internet. A VoIP phone service is internet based and doesn’t require a regular home phone line. It uses a regular phone as a communication device.
There are a host of different VoIP phones you will find in the market today, however, considering where the phone system market is most active, you can expect to find the most common devices being VoIP phones.
They function and look similar to the phones you are used to, however, since they are VoIP devices, they connect to an internet-based network rather than a traditional copper network.
Within an office environment, this means that each phone would connect to the same cabled network which your PC and laptop connects to, and because they’re internet based, they can be taken and plugged into any internet network (such as your home internet) which will enable you to work from anywhere, as if you were in the office. You get wireless phones too. If they connect to the internet, it’s a VoIP phone!
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A wired desk phone is the typical device you can expect to find on the desk in your office – it’s the one office tool which we are all familiar with.
You may also hear people refer to the desk phone as “handset”, “SIP phone” or “desktop device”, but don’t worry – this is just the different industry lingo. You do get different VoIP devices such as conference phones, door phones, and more.
A wireless or cordless phone is most commonly found in retail-type environments since they enable users who move around the company to have access to communication.
For wireless or cordless devices you do get different technology – either DECT or Wi-Fi, the difference being how the phones connect to the network and achieve the required coverage for your environment.
A Softphone is a either a smartphone or software application that has the same telephone functions as a desk phone.
Softphones usually come with additional functionality such as instant messaging and video communication, and uses your device microphone and speakers – although it is recommended to connect a Headset to improve the quality of the communication.
Most VoIP phones are not sold as a stand-alone, but rather to operate as an extension of a phone system.
Not all VoIP phones are created equal, and not all phones work on all phone systems. Some systems will require phones to be certified to work, which means that both manufacturers have gone through official interoperability testing.
Imagine having to install and manually configure one phone at a time, especially if you have 50, 100 or more employees?
Find out how phones are provisioned by your phone system provider, and once they are installed and configured whether any changes or updates can be applied remotely, or if a technician will need to be called onsite to carry out any changes.
VoIP phones do not work as a stand-alone device. Rather, they connect to a Local Area Network (LAN), require power to operate, must be set up in a manner that speech quality is not compromised by other functions on the same network, etc.
Take time to understand the requirements for a successful implementation.
The world of IP and SIP technology moves like lightning, and with this comes constant updates to fix bugs, provide enhancements and patch any security holes.
If you are buying a phone from a manufacturer who is reliant on a primary manufacturer then you will need to make sure that the Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) can move as quickly as your supplier can (or needs to).
Ask for your Warranty Certificate, and also confirm everything that is covered under the warranty.
Ask about product replacements if there is a manufacturer fault. You do not want to be in a scenario where you sit without a phone for weeks while your phone is shipped to the manufacturer overseas for repair.
You may also want to find out from your chosen provider what the failure rate is of the devices over the past 12 months. This is a good indicator of phone build and quality.
It is important to know that just being SIP compliant doesn’t mean that phones will work on any SIP system.
And, if it does, the best place to find out about confirmed compatibility is from the phone system you are connecting to. If the phone provider has “approved” the device for use on the system, that usually means that the vendors have an agreement for support and have worked together to ensure that the integration is tried and tested.
If you’re using a new device on a new phone system, you run the risk for integration issues which your suppliers will need to troubleshoot and provide a fix, usually without any committed response or fix time.
Plus, without both parties going through the certification process, you’re potentially missing out on the benefits of remote provisioning and management.
VoIP phones connect to your Local Area Network (LAN).
Considering that the implementation standard is to use the same LAN and cabled infrastructure, you’re going to want to make sure that your phone has at least two LAN ports which will allow you to daisy-chain the internet connection from the network, to the phone, to your computer, thereby eliminating the need for two network connections at each desk.
Unlike traditional legacy devices, VoIP phones require power to operate.
Power can be provided by purchasing a local power adapter, or through your LAN as long as your LAN supports Power over Ethernet (PoE). Phones are usually shipped without a power adapter, so it is advisable to understand what your environment requires, and for you to plan accordingly.
In a software world, systems are updated regularly to fix any bugs, solve security issues and provide new functionality.
As your phone system is upgraded, it may very well be set that your phones will need to be upgraded at the same time – not only to ensure that both are on the latest software, but also to ensure interoperability, for example, older phones and older software does not work on newer systems.
Find out who will be responsible for doing these upgrades – what the cost will be, how long it will take, and if there is any downtime involved?
We are committed to helping you to make an educated buying decision, and to find the best telecoms partner for your business.