(The nutz and boltz of it all...)
VoIP has been "meshed" into various other terms used in the industry. But, the heart of it is simply: "IP based voice communication".
VoIP (Voice-over-IP) can be used over the Internet, with-in your business Local Area Network (LAN) and/or through your Wide Area Network (WAN = Internet/ISP Service) across internal / external business environments. VoIP is usually tied to hardware and/or software based functionality and service options.
"VoIP Telephone Line Service" is a primary-service provided by a third party 'telephone service provider'. VoIP in your local network is end-to-end point communication inside your network or through your ISP/Internet provider.
All of these “deployment” methods (which are usually tied together) convert and handle voice transmissions into digital data that can then be managed using hardware and software through QoS (Quality of Service).
QoS gives 'voice data' priority over other forms of network data such as email, or video streaming. Even a slight delay of under a second to a few seconds in a voice call can result in poor quality, echo, and one-way audio or call disconnection issues. Voice data QoS was traditionally provided by manually setting up QoS preference for SIP (Session Initiated Protocol) devices on router and managed network switch settings. However, in today's market - when using newer network switches and routers, manually setting up QoS features is usually not required.
Most current network devices now include automatic VoIP aware features that give priority to voice and video over regular network data. For VoIP compatibility, check your network devices to ensure they ALL have 802.1p which gives Layer 2 switches and routers the ability to prioritize traffic as well as perform dynamic multicast filtering with-out the need to configure settings. As noted on our Networking-101 page - use un-managed switches for most small business applications.
There are many advantages! Most businesses have adopted VoIP and IP Telephone Systems for different reasons. Some of them include:
VoIP allows business and home office / small office (SoHo) business to save monthly costs vs. analog and other traditional telephone line service. Most business have internet service which allows telecommunications to be used with-out paying for additional copper wire or landline telephone services from a primary provider.
VoIP has now become the norm in most businesses. The first and the most relevant comment we here from our users after switching to VoIP is: "The sound quality is SOOOOOO MUCH BETTER!"
H.D. VoIP is all digital and uses very little headroom on your internet service bandwidth. All digital means no line noise. However, in certain cases (we'll be honest) - VoIP can have drawbacks and service outages just like regular analog line service does though. Since it is tied to internet services - those third party servers can go down and cause issues. But the cost benefits, and quality of VoIP Telephone Line Service is unmatched in the telecommunications industry. Some more advanced internal business networks can have some issues initially, since they use more complex switches and network devices to control the network. But, there is usually methodology to resolve local network issues when dealing with SIP voice devices.
With traditional old copper wire telephone landline service - the signal is lower quality, and is often prone to other "wiring" issues beyond your control and can only be dealt with by the telephone line provider. Weather, wind and other wire affecting circumstances can all affect the quality of service you get from those land line providers. The cost has also become prohibitive for small businesses more and more due to increased pricing practices and policies.
What most people don't realize is the analog line service they get - is all VoIP integrated to. The only difference is the telephone company converts the line service down to analog copper line service to the end user's building. Loss of quality in down sampling to analog lines always has quality issues.
You can run a phone network on the same network cabling used for data / computer and internet. You no longer need to have separate wiring installed for network and telephone lines and extensions.
Traditional phone line service meant you had to pay for each line and each phone number separately. You could have one published number but secondary numbers and lines were needed to do multiple calls. Separate offices also needed their own lines with-in the same business if in different buildings or located across the country. This all added to increased costs and lower profitability.
Not in today's VoIP service environment. With VoIP there is so much flexibility to network offices through VoIP, provide single phone numbers with allowance for multiple calls (and expansion) on one number. SIP Trunking allows voice paths to be added to allow for larger call capacity allowance and better performance.
With today's PBX Phone Systems, businesses can also network offices across the country for internal calling and communication. Remote workers can connect using soft phones or hardware phones - which connect to the office phone system through the internet. Apps also allow users to connect through office phone systems using VoIP when at home, travelling or even at a coffee shop to make and receive calls from with-in the business telephone system network.
WOW! Features - VoIP phone systems now offer increased options and advanced features and flexibility that older phone systems did not. You are no longer are tied to 'phone company services' that specifically had to work with older phone systems. Contact management, Voice-mail to email, eFaxing and the ability to use a host of other features are built into newer PBX Phone Systems. Real-time Video and Text chat options are also now built into some PBX Phone Systems available on the market today.
Some PBX and Phone services on the market are "Hosted Solutions". What this means is phones and users connect and communicate through a third party service - not on the business premises. These are Cloud Based Telecommunication services you usually subscribe to and pay monthly - PER USER. They can be very very costly. And, when either their service goes down (as was a regular occurrence in 2021 due to covid related issues, and ransomware or DDoS attack issues) - you're with-out your primary communication channels.
The PBX Systems we carry and support are what are called "On-Premise PBX Phone Systems". What this means is you own your own equipment on site, and don't rely on third party services. You can use VoIP or VoIP plus analog line service as back-up plans, and you usually always have a line of telecommunication in most circumstances. The On-Premise phone system model is being (re)adopted by more and more businesses again because it is still more reliable and flexible, and has a much much lower total cost of ownership tied to it. Review comparison - On-premise PBX System savings here