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WHAT IS VOIP?
Voice over Internet Protocol
HOW VOIP / INTERNET VOICE WORKS
VoIP services convert your voice into a digital signal (using SIP protocol) that travels over the Internet. If you are calling a regular phone number, the signal is converted to a regular telephone signal before it reaches the destination. VoIP can allow you to make a call directly from a computer, a special VoIP phone, or a traditional phone connected to a special adapter.
WHAT KIND OF EQUIPMENT DO I NEED?
A reliable and high speed internet connection is required. This can be through a cable modem, or high speed services such as DSL or a Fiber Optic Internet service. A VoIP Phone System, computer with a softphone, adaptor or specialized IP phone is required. Some VoIP services only work over your computer or a special VoIP phone, while other services allow you to use a traditional phone connected to a VoIP adapter. If you use your computer, you will need some software called a soft phone and a headset. Special VoIP phones plug directly into your broadband connection and operate largely like a traditional telephone. If you use a telephone with a VoIP adapter, you'll be able to dial just as you always have, and the service provider may also provide a dial tone.
IS THERE A DIFFERENCE BETWEEN MAKING A LOCAL CALL AND A LONG DISTANCE CALL?
Most VoIP providers include all long distance and local calling for the US and Canada, some even include Mexico now. For other international dialing it varies per country. Other VoIP providers permit you to call anywhere but you have a fixed number of minutes.
IF I HAVE VOIP SERVICE, WHO CAN I CALL?
If you have a reliable and good provider you should be able to call any one you want. Some providers disable international calling by default and you have to call and get access per country. This is to prevent massive phone bills from hackers calling their long lost friends on your dime.
CAN I USE MY COMPUTER WHILE I TALK ON THE PHONE?
In most cases, yes, but if your sharing a single network cable you will lose connection when you reboot or power cycle your phone.
You can have single line VoIP phone service. Such as at your house with magic jack or vonage or another residential provider like that. You can even use a single line voip solution for a really small office with 1-2 phones.
You can get VoIP Phone Service for a smaller office typically up to about 10 phones. This VoIP Phone Service is also called "Hosted Phone Service. It is a full business phone system pbx with voicemail, auto attendant, caller id, voicemail to email, music on hold and more.
Any VoIP solution needs to be properly planned and installed.
The reason it's called "hosted" is because you don't actually pay for the "phone system brains" you just get the features in a monthly cost per phone. (Typical the cost per month is $25-40, but that depends on the features) So the upside is that you don't pay for the cost of the phone system server or "brains", so you don't maintain, or have to worry about maintenance or upgrade costs either.
The down side is that you don't own the phone system and if you grow over 10 phones the monthly cost can quickly be a lot more than buying your own phone system server.
If you go the route of buying your own VoIP or IP Phone System then you can pay for IP Phone lines ($15-$25 per line) much cheaper than traditional analog phone lines. ($40-$50 per line)
You only pay for the VoIP Lines with a Monthly Recurring Charge. You don't have to pay for service for every phone as in the "hosted" phone service mentioned above, you only pay for the phone lines monthly.
We have a case study with Lee Dental where they save over $500 per month switch to VoIP Lines and buying their own VoIP Phone System.
If properly installed your VoIP Phone System has so many great features to help save money and time.
WHY SHOULD I USE VOIP INSTEAD OF ANALOG PHONE LINES?
The main reason to use VoIP phone service instead of analog phone lines is flexibility and features. The second reason to use VoIP phone service (also called IP Lines or SIP Trunks) is cost savings. It can save any where from 10-60% and 40% cost savings per month is about the average.
WHAT ARE THE CONS FOR VOIP OVER ANALOG?
The main downside to VoIP lines is intermittent audio issues from time to time. The service is very much like a cell phone with the occasional dropped call or "underwater" sound. Sometimes the audio quality issues are just 2-6 times per year, and other systems can have internet quality issues multiple times per week.
We always recommend an auto fail from the VoIP lines to a small analog pool for sudden loss of internet service.