When you think about your IT infrastructure, what springs to mind? Computers? Mobile devices? Printers and projectors? The cloud? Your internet connectivity? The list goes on and on. Of course, these are all vital components of your business IT network. However, there is one technology that is often overlooked or taken for granted. Your communication systems.

Traditionally, small to medium-size businesses (SMBs) have used a copper-wired Packet-Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) as the standard technology for telecommunications. PSTN phones, or the longstanding landlines, are connected via cables or fibres and individuals communicate through a central exchange hosted by a PSTN network operator such as BT. Once upon a time, PSTN was a network of fixed-line analogue phones which has since morphed into a digital global network of mobile and fixed line phones.

All very nice, but here’s the rub. You pay a monthly fee for your landline rental. On top of that, you pay per minute per call and there may be additional charges for long distance carriers. And then there are international calls eating fast and furious into your communications budget.

Enter VoIP or Voice over Internet Protocol. VoIP phones work by converting analogue sound into digital data which is then transmitted from one phone to another via the internet. Confused? Skype and Facetime are classical examples or VoIP technologies we use.

VoIP phones look pretty similar to landline devices but there are some fundamental differences when it comes to setting up and operation.

  • • You have to register your VoIP phone to your account. Simply put, this means connecting your phone to your internet service provider so they can communicate with each other. Registration will take you or an IT support person less than 30 minutes and there’s no need to call your local telephone company.
  • • VoIP phones are linked to user accounts, not a specific telephone number. Using toggle buttons, you can switch between simultaneous calls on one or more accounts.
  • • VoIP handles a variety of media other than voice. VoIP facilitates text messaging, image and video transfer and video calls.
  • • VoIP means you can set up conference calls in real time. With a PSTN phone, only two people can talk at the same time.
  • • Portable teleworking is one of the biggest advantages of VoIP technology over PSTN phones. You are able to remotely use the voice, fax and data services via your SMB intranet.
  • • VoIP enables fax over IP and you don’t need a fax machine. With real-time fax transmission, your data is converted into packets and delivered safely and reliably at the other end.

Besides having VoIP phones and a stable internet connection with sufficient bandwidth, you don’t need much more to make VoIP calls. You will need and sound card and speakers, which your computer will probably have, anyway. Headphones you can steal from your smartphone or iPod. The latest software packages are usually free and downloadable from the web.

In the long run, you can save a fortune by incorporating VoIP into your IT infrastructure. You don’t pay for calls as you would with a PSTN phone. The only expense is your monthly internet bill, which you have to pay anyway. Besides saving time, you’ll save up to 40% on local calls and 90% on international calls. So what are you waiting for?

Ready to embrace VoIP technology? Your local IT managed service provider (MSP) will access your telecommunication needs, then design and implement the best VoIP solution for your SMB. Popular these days is a virtual Private Branch Exchange (PBX). A PBX is essentially a telephone exchange in a box, typically a piece of hardware. A cloud-based or virtual PBX, offered by the MSP, has minimal upfront costs and reduced maintenance. So have a chat with your MSP and add time-saving and money-saving VoIP to your business IT bundle.