What is a VoIP Telephone System?
A VoIP or “Voice over internet protocol” as it stands for, is the most advanced telephone system option for businesses currently on the market. A VoIP or IP phone transmits telephone calls over the internet.
There are three types of VoIP:
An Analog Telephone Adaptor (ATA) allows you to connect a standard phone to your computer or internet connection to use with VoIP. An ATA is an analog-to-digital converter which will convert standard telephone signals to digital and enable them to be transmitted over the internet.
Some telephone system providers will give an ATA with their service. You can plug your phone cable into the ATA, the ATA into your computer and VoIP calls will be enabled. Your provider may also have software for your computer to configure it for use.
IP phones look very much like standard phones. They have similar physical features such as a handset, cradle and buttons. IP Phones have an ethernet connector to connect them directly to your router. They are already configured for IP calls. Wi-Fi enabled phones allow VoIP calls from Wi-Fi hotspots or connections.
Computer to Computer
A computer with a microphone, speakers, a sound card, and internet connection can make a VoIP call through either dedicated call software or a platform such as Skype.
Simply put, VoIP systems use digital signals (which may need to be converted from analog), which can be transmitted online. They use packet switching, the usual way of sending data across the internet, which opens brief connections for transmission. Data than can be transmitted in small chunks, or packets, saving money, time and the volume of data transmitted.
IP Gateways compress and reassemble data to reduce bandwidth. Traditional circuit switching used historically by telephone networks maintains a connection during the entire call.
Software and Hardware
To operate a VoIP system a business can choose to use physical IP phones or to opt for software that is installed on a PC, device or smartphone and uses that device’s speakers, microphone and sound system.
As a business you will need to decide how you use your telephone system and how much to decide which hardware or software option is appropriate for you.
As VoIP systems are connected to the internet, not an office based phone line or server, calls can easily be made and taken on the move via a laptop or mobile device.
VoIP software comprehensively tracks all calls, making management and reporting, particularly in call centre, service or sales environments, much easier. There is greater integration with PC networks and applications as well as greater control than with a PTSN system.
VoIP telephone systems can be completely hosted online, or in the cloud. Or they can be a physical server in your office, whichever works best for your business.
Graphical User Interface
Digital VoIP systems enable functionality like Graphical User Interface (GUI) technology. A GUI is useful for conference calling as it allows full functional video calling over the VoIP network.
What are the Benefits of VoIP for my Business?
Using digital signals and an internet connection to make calls can be much cheaper than using a traditional PSTN phone network and provider. Multiple calls can be made and managed using the same connection without expensive or bulky hardware.
Larger firms may benefit from having VoIP hardware and support based within their organisation to minimise costs and give better management of a larger system.
VoIP systems are very flexible. Calls and their management can be conducted on the move or anywhere within a business.
It’s easy to add more users, or further functionality as required. Physical space does not have to be a concern. Even the smallest or most mobile business can benefit from VoIP.
There are some drawbacks, VoIP systems are reliant on an internet connection. So any downtime means downtime for your phones. Some providers offer emergency and backup functionality which is worth investigating if your business needs to respond to customers 24/7 without fail.
It’s also worth remembering that an emergency call from a VoIP network cannot be tracked back to a physical phone and location unlike standard or PBX phone systems.
What will a VoIP System Cost in Canada?
The cost of a VoIP system will vary from provider to provider and depend on usage and sometimes the number of users.
If you choose VoIP hardware there will usually be an upfront cost, setup of hardware or software based systems is usually included.
Software is normally included with the price of a service, leaving the last cost – a monthly fee for VoIP provision. Monthly VoIP services start from around $9.99 CAD per month with average charges per month being around $19.99 CAD for the more reputable telephony providers in Canada.
Who are the Best VoIP Providers in Canada?
Some of the most popular business VoIP telephone providers in Canada right now are:
RingCentral is a global provider of cloud unified communications and collaboration solutions. They have a strong presence in the Canadian telephony marketplace. Their systems allow workforces to be connected anywhere and on any device through voice, video, team messaging, SMS conferencing, and online meetings.
RingCentral software integrates with leading business applications but also offers customization for customers. They have supplied over 350,000 companies globally and are based in Belmont, California.
Telehop are a leading telecommunications provider for residential and business customers, with a 20-year history. Their business proposition is their fastest growing arm. They are committed to supplying high tech services for small to medium sized organisations at competitive prices.
Telehop are based in Toronto, Ontario. Their product portfolio includes affordable, scalable VoIP solutions for any size business. They offer the switch to a hosted phone system without an upfront capital purchase.
Convergia is part of global multi-billion-dollar group of companies with a strong America and Canada wide history of 15 years in the IT market. Their services cover Telephony, Internet/Data, Mobility and Hardware.
Their primary IP service is a Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) Trunk option routed over an IP or internet network. They offer PSTN connectivity and IP PBX hybrid options.
SIP services from Convergia are secure, reliable and cloud or office integrated. The option has increased scalability and functionality at an affordable cost for most sizes of business.