What is VoIP?
Voice over IP (VoIP) is all the rage lately. So what
it is? Voice over IP is a category of telephony products.
The VoIP protocol allows voice traffic to best of
IP based networks. Of course, the largest IP network
in the world is the Internet. Because VoIP uses the
internet, it can provide tremendous savings for individuals
and businesses because there is no additional infrastructure
for the providers to build. All they need is and access
point to the WWW and the equipment to process the
For the customer, the investment is equipment is
minimal. They must have a broadband internet connection,
a wireless router, and a VOIP enabled phone. Many
people already have the internet connection and a
It greatest advantage over the existing systems is
the fact that it merges all forms of communication
into a single platform. In the past all voice communication
was carried over circuit switching. That means that
an actual wire connection or frequency for wireless
devices is reserved for each individual telephone.
This eats up bandwidth.
Currently the following services are available:
SOHO/Individual – this service
is designed for the small business, home office, or
individual. They connect over DSL or Cable and provide
a very competitive alternative to conventional phone
service. They have small startup costs and usually
provide flat rate local, regional and long distance
calling and very reasonably priced international calling.
Voice mail, call forwarding, caller ID, and three-way
calling are normally considered part of the base service.
Most services will also include a “soft phone”
which is a program installed on a pc used with a headset
and microphone to make telephone calls. This can make
an employee appear to be in the office no matter where
they actually are…a great feature for telecommuters.
The leading providers of this service are AT&T,
BroadVoice, CrystalVoice, 8x8, VoicePulse, and Vonage.
Prices range between $15 and $50 per month.
Managed VoIP services – the
most popular service is called IP Centrex. This service
has all the usual Centrex services but also includes
flat-rate voice calls for about $40 per seat. The
equipment can be located on either the client site
or the service provider’s site. Competitive
local exchange carriers (CLECs) and the traditional
carries offer this service.
Hybrid IP PBXes – These are
upgrades to existing PBX systems for companies that
want to make the change more gradually because they
have thousands of employees and millions invested
in existing equipment. The cost is between $500-800
per user. The major sellers of this type of equipment
are Cisco, Alcatel, Avays, Nortel, Mitel and Siemens.
Pure IP Systems – This is
the system of choice for a company moving into new
quarters or expanding. The cost per user is approximately
the same as the Hybrid PBS system making it a better
idea and more cost effective in the long run than
moving an old system. The primary manufacturers are
Cisco and 3com.