As technology advances at a breakneck speed and businesses make alterations to adapt to new changes, it does not come as a surprise that a lot of companies have swapped out their traditional landlines for the most reliable VoIP services available in the market.
With the advantages VoIP has over analogue phones, it has quickly become a favourite amongst both consumers and businesses.
THE HISTORY OF VOIP
The history of VoIP stretches way far back than one might imagine. It might be surprising to some people that even though VoIP services have become more viral in the last decade or so, its original story begins nearly a century back.
In 1925, the Bell Laboratory was established by the combined forces of the Western Electric company and the AT&T. The first voice synthesizer called the Vocoder, which happens to have a similar concept to present-day packet transmission, was invented in 1938 by engineer Homer Dudley in the Bell Labs.
Secret messages were sent during the Second World War by utilizing the Vocoder in the SIGSALY system. In the present time, VoIP telephony, cochlear implants, and digital trunking all happen to use the same technology.
In 1969, an academic research project led to the beginning of the internet. The ARPANET was created by ARPA (now known as DARPA), which was a US Department of Defense agency.
The ARPANET is said to be the first packet-switching network ever produced. It also happens to be one of the earliest adopters of the IP network protocol communications suite as well as the TCP. The network, however, got closed in 1990.
Slowly but surely, more developments occurred in this area over the following years. The first voice data packet was transmitted in 1973, and the first large-scale commercial internet service provider named CompuServe was established in 1975. In 1989, Brian C. Wiles created RASCAL, which was the first system that sent voice over Ethernet systems without fail. It was also the first VoIP application. Wiles also created NetFone, which became the first software-based VoIP phone and later became known as Speak Freely.
The 1990s saw many more similar inventions related to VoIP, such as Teleport, later called TeleSuite, which happens to be the first telepresence system. However, the title of the best-known video calling of its time was held by Skype, which was founded in Estonia in 2003. It did not take long for the market to be filled with alternative options for Skype. Mobile phone VoIP started out in 2005 when Calypso Wireless launched the C1250i, which is the first mobile phone to have Wi-Fi connectivity.
By the time 2012 came around, the growth rate of hosted VoIP telephone services was approximately 17% per year. By 2015, there were a lot of businesses that were changing to VoIP voice calls or had already transitioned to IP telephony.
In 2018, the VoIP technology became a $20 billion industry in the United States of America alone. The COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020 sped up the process of VoIP technology becoming the new normal across the world. This has now led to the market being full of various different VoIP services. So, you will easily be able to find some of the most reliable VoIP services.
WHAT IS VOIP, AND HOW DOES IT WORK?
The technique and group of technologies used for the delivery of not only multimedia but voice communications over Internet Protocol (IP) networks is known as voice-over-internet-protocol (VoIP). It is also called IP telephony.
VoIP works in a similar way to traditional telephones. The process includes signaling, digitization of the analog voice signals, channel setup, and encoding. In the case of VoIP, the digital data gets packetized. These IP packets get transmitted over a packet-switched network.
Audio media get encoded with audio codecs, and video media get encoded with video codecs. Depending on the application requirements and network bandwidth, there are a lot of different codecs which optimize the media stream.
Moreover, alongside VoIP phones, calls and SMS text messages can be sent through the carrier’s mobile data network or Wi-Fi as numerous personal computers as well as other Internet access devices have VoIP available.
Here are four simplified steps which summarize how VoIP works:
- Your device gets connected to your router or switch in your Local Area Network (LAN).
- Once you have dialed a number, the IP of your phone tells your VoIP service provider to call the corresponding party.
- The call gets established by your VoIP service. Your VoIP service also takes data packets from your IP phone and exchanges them with the other party.
- The digital signals are converted back into the sound you are able to hear by your VoIP phone.
ADVANTAGES OF USING ONE OF THE MOST RELIABLE VOIP
There are various different advantages of using some of the most reliable VoIP. While various VOIP service providers offer different benefits, some of the advantages that are common across all VOIP service providers are as follows.
- Lower costs
The best thing about using VoIP is most definitely how low the costs are. More often than not, the only cost of using VoIP is the cost of your internet connection since VoIP uses your internet/broadband connection.
This can therefore cause a huge reduction in costs since traditional telephone lines happen to be rather expensive. Numerous businesses, as well as consumers, have found out that their telephone bills have decreased by over 60% ever since they started using VoIP.
- Better quality calls
Since VoIP happens to utilize your internet/broadband connection, the quality of the calls you make is much better than those made by other alternatives such as traditional landlines. Whereas traditional telephones might have fuzzy or muffled audio, VoIP system gives you clear and crisp audio so that you do not have any issues trying to understand what the person on the other end is trying to say.
- The easy scalability
Unlike regular telephones, you do not need to provision new lines in order to add new users to the VoIP telephone systems. This not only suits your current requirements but your future requirements as well.
VoIP has been adopted by several businesses and consumers across the globe. It has been developed over many years as previously stated in the “History of VoIP” section. As technology continues to develop, so does VoIP, which makes it one of the most reliable telephone technologies in existence.
For most businesses, portability is very vital. Utilizing one of the most reliable VoIP services you can find in the market is highly beneficial since both desk-based users and mobile phone users are able to connect to your telephone system.
VoIP does not necessarily require any technical setup apart from a broadband connection. As a result, this is very advantageous for people who work from home.
- Advanced features
VoIP offers you a variety of advanced features that traditional landlines do not. These include recording calls, auto attendants as well as call queues. More often than not, all of these advanced features are included in the business phone service plans.
- It gets you ready for the ISDN switch off
The ISDN switch-off is supposedly happening in 2025, which is likely to affect all of the businesses that do not utilize VoIP. Even though 2025 is still quite a little while away, transitioning to a VoIP telephone system can aid you in preparing for the future.
- Supports multitasking
VoIP not only allows you to make regular phone calls, it also lets you send images, videos and documents while holding a conversation.
DISADVANTAGES OF USING ONE OF THE MOST RELIABLE VOIP
Just like every other thing in the world, even the most reliable VoIP has its downsides. Some of these drawbacks are as follows.
- A reliable internet connection is required
Since VoIP uses your internet connection, even the most reliable VoIP service is going to be as good as your internet connection happens to be. This means that the service is likely to suffer if you have a low network bandwidth.
It is recommended that your device has an upload speed of at least 100kbps available when you use VoIP. If you wish to transition to VoIP in your business, the bandwidth you would require is dependent on the number of concurrent calls that you plan to make.
- All VoIP providers do not offer secure transmissions
One of the vital points to remember is that the internet is a public network. Thus, there is always a possibility that your data might get intercepted during the transmission.
- Issues in finding actual location during emergencies
VoIP allows you to purchase a local number from any state of your choice, with any area code, even if there is no physical address. This causes an issue during emergencies as respondents generally use your phone number to determine your location.
In such cases, they will have problems in finding you if your phone number and address do not match. This means that even if you happen to use the most reliable VoIP service available in the market, they might cause complications in times of emergency.
FACTORS TO CONSIDER WHEN SELECTING A VOIP SERVICE PROVIDER
It goes without saying that there are a few factors you should take into when selecting one of the most reliable VoIP service providers you can find. For instance, you should consider the total cost that will incur. There are times when the advertised price does not include the costs for one-time charges, add-ons and other related fees. So be sure to get a breakdown of all the costs that you might incur.
In addition to that, you should check how reliable the service is. Inquire about their plans regarding disaster management or emergencies, how fast you will be able to start to relocate and start working again if a natural or man-made emergency occurs and other such questions. The most reliable VoIP service providers are bound to have some plans for situations like that.
Also, make sure that the VoIP service provider of your choice at the very least offers encryption as a security measure and happens to have a good customer service.
SOME OF THE BEST VOIP SERVICE PROVIDERS IN THE MARKET
There is an abundance of VoIP service providers in the market. Here is a list of some of the best and most reliable VoIP service providers.
- RingCentral: The Company offers several plans, starting with its “Essentials” plan that costs $19.99.
- Ooma: The VOIP service provider has two primary plans for its customers. The “Ooma Office” costs $19.95, and the “Ooma Office Pro” costs $24.95.
- 8×8: Their “8×8 Express Plan” will cost you only $15.00 per user monthly. Other monthly plans include X2 costing $24 and X4 costing $44.
- Grasshopper: It is the most expensive VOIP service provider on this list. Grasshopper’s pricing starts at $29. Their Solo plan is a monthly contract on a month-to-month basis. The Partner plan would cost you $49 per month, and the Small Business plan would cost you $89 per month.
- Dialpad: Their starting price is $15 per user monthly, which provides a plethora of VOIP services. Plus, they also have customisable plans for different business needs.
- Google Voice: The cheapest plan on the list belongs to the tech giants Google. Their starter plan costs only $10, the standard plan is priced at $20, and finally, the cost of the premier plan is $30. Tremendous service with great quality is assured because of the company that runs the program.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQS) ABOUT VOIP
- What kind of equipment do I need?
You will need a broadband connection as well as an adaptor, computer or a specialized phone. If you use a computer, you might need a microphone and some software.
- Who can I call if I have VoIP service?
It depends on your service. You could be limited to other subscribers who use the service, or you might be able to call anyone that has a telephone number. This includes local, mobile, long-distance and international numbers. In case you are calling someone who uses a traditional landline, they do not need any special equipment.
- How do I know if I have a VoIP call?
This depends on the device you are using. If the VoIP service you use needs you to use your computer, you will be alerted of incoming calls by the software they provide. If you have a telephone connected to an adapter or use a specialized phone, it will ring like a traditional telephone.
USING ONE OF THE MOST RELIABLE VOIP IS BEST FOR BUSINESS
Looking back at the benefits and drawbacks of VoIP, it is evident that the pros outweigh the cons. The disadvantages are not exactly deal breakers since you can find ways to work around them.
So, needless to say, it would be a wise choice to shift your business to VoIP. We have already given you a list of the most reliable VoIP services above. You can check them and find out which suits your needs the best.