What is VoIP? Complete guide to Voice over IP calling

Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) has altered how people keep in touch. Those days when long-distance calls were pricey and needed specialised hardware are now gone.

Today, with VoIP, anyone can make high-quality phone calls over the internet from anywhere in the world, using nearly any device; a compatible desktop phone, a computer, or a smartphone.

In this complete guide to VoIP, we will explain what it is, how it works, its advantages and disadvantages, how to start making VoIP calls and help you decide if VoIP is the right call for your business.

In this guide, we will look at:

  1. What is VoIP, and how does it work?
  2. The advantages of using VoIP for voice communication
  3. The disadvantages of using VoIP
  4. Different types of VoIP services
  5. How to get started with VoIP calling
  6. Tips for optimising your VoIP experience
  7. What are the benefits of VoIP for a business?

This guide will give you a comprehensive understanding of VoIP technology and help you make informed decisions about the right choice for your communication needs. If you have any questions, please feel welcome to contact us. 

So, let’s dive in!

What is VoIP, and how does it work?

VoIP stands for Voice over Internet Protocol, which refers to the technology that allows people to make voice calls over the internet. 

Instead of using traditional telephone lines, VoIP uses the internet to transmit voice data as packets of information. This enables real-time voice communication anywhere worldwide, as long as you have an internet connection.

To make a VoIP call, you need a device that supports VoIP (such as a VoIP-compatible desk phone, computer, smartphone, or tablet) and a connection to the internet or mobile phone data. 

The device converts your analogue voice signals into digital data packets. The VoIP service provider routes them over the internet to the recipient’s device, which is converted back into analogue voice signals.

VoIP calls can be made using various devices, including computers, smartphones, tablets, and IP phones. IP phones are designed specifically to make and receive phone calls via VoIP, and can be used as desktop phones. 

To use VoIP, you must have a stable internet connection. The quality of the call depends on the speed and reliability of the internet connection. We recommend having a high-speed broadband connection with low latency for the best results.

VoIP also requires a VoIP service provider, which provides the infrastructure to route the voice data packets over the internet. There are many VoIP service providers to choose from, each offering different plans and pricing structures. The cost of VoIP varies depending on the features and services you need.

What is VoIP? Complete guide to Voice over IP calling
Photo by Julian Hochgesang on Unsplash

The advantages of using VoIP for voice communication

VoIP offers a range of advantages over traditional telephone services, including cost savings, flexibility, enhanced functionality, integration with other communication tools, scalability, improved call quality, and easy setup. 

Whether you’re an individual or a business, VoIP can provide a cost-effective and efficient solution for your communication needs.

The top benefits of VoIP include

  1. Cost savings: One of the most significant advantages of VoIP is the cost savings compared to traditional telephone services. With VoIP, long-distance and international calls are often free or cost significantly less than traditional phone services.
  2. Flexibility: VoIP allows you to make and receive calls from anywhere in the world, as long as you have an internet connection. This is especially useful for people who travel frequently or work from home.
  3. Enhanced functionality: VoIP often includes additional features, such as call forwarding, voicemail, call conferencing, and caller ID, often unavailable with traditional phone services.
  4. Integration with other communication tools: VoIP can easily integrate with other communication tools, such as instant messaging and video conferencing, to provide a comprehensive communication solution.
  5. Scalability: VoIP is highly scalable, making adding or removing lines as needed easy,  ideal for growing businesses of all sizes and individuals.
  6. Improved call quality: With VoIP, calls are transmitted over the internet, which typically results in high-quality audio. In addition, many VoIP services offer advanced audio and video codecs, which can further enhance call quality.
  7. Easy setup: Setting up a VoIP system is often easier and less expensive than a traditional phone system. Many VoIP service providers offer plug-and-play devices, which make it easy to get started with VoIP calling.

The disadvantages of using VoIP

We may be a little biased, but there aren’t too many disadvantages to VoIP, and as technology progresses, these disadvantages become less and less of a problem. 

Things to be aware of include;

  1. Internet connection dependency: VoIP relies on a stable internet connection or mobile data, so if your internet connection is poor, your call quality may also be poor. This may be problematic in areas with slow or unreliable internet connections.
  2. Security concerns: VoIP calls may be vulnerable to hacking, eavesdropping, and other security threats. Like with any online technology, it’s important to take steps to secure your VoIP system, such as using encryption and firewalls. Your VoIP provider can help with this. 
  3. Power outages: In the event of a power outage, you may not be able to make or receive VoIP calls if your internet connection is down. However, most providers can quickly switch you to mobile data, so you’ll avoid downtime until the power returns.

Different types of VoIP services 

There are several types of VoIP services to choose from, including home VoIP, business VoIP, mobile VoIP, hosted VoIP, on-premises VoIP, and SIP trunking. 

Each service offers different benefits and is suited to different types of users, so choosing the right VoIP service is important.

Let’s take a closer look:

  • Home VoIP: This type of VoIP service is designed for personal use and is typically used by individuals or families. Home VoIP services often include features such as call forwarding, voicemail, and caller ID.
  • Business VoIP: Business VoIP services are designed for corporate use and often include advanced features such as call conferencing, call centre capabilities, and integration with other communication tools.
  • Mobile VoIP: Mobile VoIP allows you to make and receive calls using your smartphone or tablet over a Wi-Fi or mobile data connection. This type of VoIP service is ideal for people always on the go.
  • Hosted VoIP: Hosted VoIP services are hosted by third-party providers and do not require any on-premises hardware. This makes it easy to get started with VoIP and eliminates the need for IT support.
  • On-premises VoIP: On-premises VoIP services require on-premises hardware and are typically used by larger organisations with IT staff. With on-premises VoIP, you have more control over your system, but you’ll also be responsible for maintaining and updating the hardware.
  • Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) trunking: SIP trunking is a type of VoIP service that connects a PBX system to the internet. This allows organisations to make and receive calls using their existing PBX system while taking advantage of VoIP’s cost savings and other benefits.

If you’re unsure which VoIP phone system you need, speak to a VoIP phone service provider who can ensure you get the best VoIP solution for your home or business. 

What is VoIP? Complete guide to Voice over IP calling
Photo by LinkedIn Sales Solutions on Unsplash

How to get started with VoIP calling

Getting started with VoIP calling is a straightforward process that involves determining your needs, choosing a VoIP service provider, purchasing or leasing the necessary hardware (if needed), and setting up your system.

Let’s break this down a little further. 

Determine your needs. 

Before you use VoIP, it’s important to determine your communication needs and what you want to achieve with your VoIP system. This will help you choose the right type of VoIP service for your needs.

Choose a VoIP service provider. 

There are many VoIP service providers to choose from, so it’s important to compare different providers and choose the one that best fits your needs. Consider cost, reliability, customer support, and the features offered.

Purchase or lease the necessary hardware. 

Depending on your type of VoIP service, you may need to purchase or lease a VoIP phone, adapter, or other hardware. Make sure to choose hardware that is compatible with your VoIP service provider. They will be able to advise you on what you need and, in some cases, rent or lease you the equipment. 

Set up your system. 

Once you have all of the necessary hardware, it’s time to set up your VoIP system. This may involve connecting the hardware to your internet connection, configuring your phone or adapter, and setting up your voicemail and other features. Again, this is something your VoIP service provider can help you with. 

Test your system. 

Once your system is set up, it’s important to test it to ensure it’s working correctly. Make a few test calls to different numbers to check the call quality and ensure all features work as expected.

Start using your system.

Once your system is set up and tested, it’s time to use it for your voice communication needs. Remember to take advantage of the features offered by your VoIP service provider to enhance your communication experience.

Our top six tips for optimising your VoIP phone system 

  1. Use a high-speed internet connection: VoIP requires a reliable and fast internet connection, so it’s vital to ensure that your connection is up to the task. If you have a slow or unreliable internet connection, you may experience issues with call quality or dropped calls.
  2. Invest in quality hardware: Investing in quality hardware can help to improve your VoIP experience. Consider purchasing or renting a VoIP phone or headset designed specifically for VoIP and offers high-quality audio.
  3. Keep your system up-to-date: Regular software and firmware updates can help improve your VoIP system’s performance and resolve any issues you may be encountering. With the right service provider, this will be handled by them. 
  4. Troubleshoot issues promptly: If you’re experiencing issues with your VoIP system, it’s important to troubleshoot them promptly to avoid further problems. Consider working with your VoIP service provider or an IT professional to resolve any issues you may encounter.
  5. Take advantage of features: VoIP offers a range of features that can help to enhance your communication experiences and help you grow your business. Features such as call forwarding, voicemail, and call conferencing. Make sure to take advantage of these features to get the most out of your VoIP system.
  6. Monitor your call quality: Regularly monitoring your call quality can help identify any issues affecting your VoIP experience. Use tools such as call quality reports to keep track of your call quality and make any necessary adjustments.

What are the benefits of VoIP for a business?

VoIP can provide numerous benefits to businesses. These benefits can help businesses improve communication, increase productivity, and drive success.

Benefits of VoIP for a business include

  • Cost savings: VoIP can significantly reduce costs compared to traditional phone systems, as it eliminates the need for physical phone lines and long-distance calling fees.
  • Improved scalability: VoIP can be easily scaled to meet the changing needs of a business, making it a flexible and cost-effective solution for companies of all sizes.
  • Enhanced mobility: VoIP enables employees to make and receive calls from anywhere with an internet connection, increasing remote workers’ and teams’ mobility and productivity.
  • Integration with other systems: VoIP can be integrated with other business systems, such as customer relationship management (CRM) software, making it a versatile solution that streamlines workflows.
  • Advanced features: VoIP systems offer a range of advanced features, such as call forwarding, voicemail, and call conferencing, improving the overall communication experience for employees and customers.
  • Improved customer service: VoIP systems often come equipped with call routing and queuing capabilities, which can improve the handling of high-volume call traffic and enhance customer service.

Thinking of switching to VoIP phone services? 

VoIP offers numerous benefits over traditional landline phone systems, such as lower costs, improved scalability, enhanced mobility, and advanced features. 

Businesses considering switching to VoIP phone services should weigh the advantages and disadvantages, choose the best VoIP service provider, and ensure their network infrastructure is capable of supporting VoIP traffic.

If you’re switching from a traditional phone line and want more about moving your business phone number, read our article on converting your telephone number to a VoIP number

VoIP can be a tremendous asset to any business with the proper setup and the right service provider. 

Find out more about VoIP for your business with Kingstar Voice.

VoIP phone to answer the questions: What is VoIP? Complete guide to Voice over IP calling
Photo by Julian Hochgesang on Unsplash

Article authored by Laura Bean Creative Little World


Philip Gilkes

My aim and mission are to provide a personal level of service that keeps your tech running correctly and helps your business thrive.

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