VOIP and IP phones

VOIP and IP phones,VoIP vs. Landline. What’s the difference?

Do you feel overwhelmed learning how to set-up VoIP for your company or office? If you are, you’re not alone. We’ve seen how common it is for administrators to be stuck on set-up and navigating through learning materials.

This guide is here to provide you a condensed resource, covering fundamentals of VoIP to actual set-up and purchase of a VoIP system.

What is PSTN?

PSTN, Public Switched Telephone Network, is the “traditional” telephony network. The origins of PSTN dates back to the invention of telephones.

Thus, PSTN is also referred to as POTN (Plain Old Telephone Network). For calls to be established over PSTN, endpoints must be connected to form a circuit.

The medium connecting these circuits can vary, including copper telephone wires, fiber optic cables, switching centers, cellular networks, and cable systems.

This is where landlines come into play. Landline refers to circuits connected by physical wiring. The most common example being underground physical wirings that branch into homes.

A unique property of PSTN to note when comparing with VoIP is the concept of ” circuit-switching.” Imagine circuits as railroad tracks.

When a call is established, the track becomes a dedicated pathway for the two endpoints. For the entirety of the call, the dedicated pathway referred to as “open connections,” will be consumed and won’t be free until the call ends.

Calls and phone system that uses PSTN are also referred to as ” analog calls ” and ” analog phone systems.”

What is VoIP?

VoIP stands for voice-over-IP. When a VOIP and IP phones call is made, the call is transmitted over the Internet rather than traveling through physical circuits like in PSTN.

The transmission process used in VoIP is called “packet-switching.” To illustrate VoIP, imagine the audio content of your call as a large piece of A4 paper.

When you speak on your VoIP phone, the audio content is processed by your device and torn apart into little individual pieces called “packets.” The packets are then sent over your router and throughout a network of routers until it reaches its specified endpoint.

At the endpoint, packets are assembled back together into comprehensible audio.

Why VoIP – packet-switching vs circuit-switching?

In contrast to circuit switching in PSTN calls, packet-switching in VoIP is a much more efficient form of transmission.

First, packet-switching is used not only for VOIP and IP phones calls but also for the pages you browse online and video and music streaming you consume.

As long as you have a functioning Internet connection, you will be able to make and receive VoIP calls. Without needing a dedicated phone line (landline and cellular) are not required, VoIP is an opportunity to mitigate an additional cost item.

Secondly, as packet-switching differs from PSTN circuit-switching in that calls do not create an always-on “open connection.”

 Data is only transmitted when sound is detected. This cuts down on the total resource usage, which is crucial as it consumes the same overall bandwidth availability.

Why should businesses consider switching to VoIP?

It’s great to know that VoIP is more efficient than PSTN calls. Beyond the technical reasons, why are more businesses adopting VoIP?

Lower upfront set-up cost.

Compared to analog options, making digital calls allow businesses to cut down the total infrastructure costs associated with calling operations.

As an example, to enable a company directory with assigned extension lines to each employee, analog options using landlines will require businesses to invest or rent multiple physical phone lines.

With VoIP, these infrastructure costs can be shifted over into the cloud or consolidated into a server with less hands-on maintenance.
Lower operational cost

VoIP lowers operational costs. VoIP shines in particular for international calling. Using virtual numbers (DID), companies can route international numbers to their local phone lines. Doing so, when receiving or calling out, they are charged local rates, avoiding the pricy long-distance call rates on PSTN networks.

Better remote working VoIP makes working and collaborating with international offices much more feasible and direct since companies won’t be charged long-distance calling rates.

Mobility and Remote Working

The addition of softphones in VoIP also makes mobility and remote working easier. Employees are not locked in place at their workstation. They can easily access their work lines on any device whether it be their personal phone brought from their company’s BYOD or laptop.

Using IP phones to handle calls also opens up more advanced call functionalities using in call and support centers. For instance, employees have access to call forwarding and transfer. Calls can be recorded with call metrics that can be fed back to your company’s CRM.

Contacts are also better managed. Using LDAP and Active Directory, contacts can be pulled from your company’s roster, Outlook and email directories.

Functionalities beyond calls, unified communications. Conferencing, screen-sharing and multi-participant meetings are now a standard form of collaboration for businesses.

When presenting a demo, customers expect a screen-share link. When hosting a meeting, employees expect remote join options.

Using VOIP and IP phones softphone clients, in particular, provides companies the opportunity to tie together these functionalities into one application. Employees can easily install the application on their mobile and desktop devices and instantly access their workplace communications.

What are some downsides to VoIP?

While VoIP is efficient and reduces operational costs, VoIP communication does have some drawbacks. Dependency on Internet Connectivity.

 Since your communications will be sent over the web, reliable internet connectivity is crucial. Especially in cases of power-outages, your VoIP communications over the net will also go down.

Emergency Calling. VoIP was not designed with emergency calling in mind. With traditional landline phones, emergency calls can be easily traced to a calling source.

However, in the case of VoIP calling, your real call address must be specifically set-up during your configuration. If it is not set up, emergency services will have no alternative method outside of verbal confirmation on tracking where your call is coming from.

Voice and Call Quality tied to Bandwidth Usage. To transmit messages, your company’s bandwidth is used. In scenarios of many users, this can be a problem as users draw from the limited pool of resources.

 This can deteriorate your call and voice quality. In contrast to dedicated landlines, your voice and call quality will be much more consistent.

What do I need to set-up VoIP for my business? For the typical office that needs to make and receive business line calls, you will need the following core components:

  • Internet service
  • VoIP Provider
  • PBX or IP-PBX (to enable extension lines)
  • IP Phones (SIP Phones)
  • Headset
  • Internet Service Provider (ISP)
  • The reliability and speed of your internet service will directly impact your VoIP experience.
  •  Depending on the number of lines, concurrent calls and expected call quality, your Internet bandwidth and speed requirements will change.

What is network latency and how can it affect your VoIP quality? Because VoIP relies on your Internet to pass data, delay between send and receive can affect the quality of your VoIP audio.

Network latency should be particularly monitored when using cloud-based solutions to manage your call routing (hosted IP-PBX).

As a rule of thumb to remember, your network latency should not exceed 100 milliseconds. When latency exceeds this mark, you will have noticeable delays, causing participants to potentially speak over each other.