What is VoIP?

If you’re managing your business’ phone system, you have probably found yourself asking “what is VoIP?” Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) is a technology that allows you to make voice calls over a data network such as the Internet or a private Ethernet network. In a business application, VoIP allows you to place local, long distance, mobile and international calls.

You can make calls using an Internet Protocol (IP) phone that looks and feels just like a regular business desktop phone. You can also use a traditional desktop phone and connect it to a VoIP adapter to make and receive VoIP calls. Some providers also provide softphone applications that reside on a computer.

By using VoIP for your business phone service, the savings can be substantial when compared to traditional phone service. Most VoIP phone service providers offer unlimited calling plans and a wide range of advanced features for one monthly fee.

How VoIP Works

VoIP technology allows you to make telephone calls over an Internet or private Ethernet connection instead of the traditional Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN). It converts your analog voice signals into digital signals so they can travel over a data network. When the data packets reach their destination, they are converted back to analog signals so the called party can participate in the voice call. So in essence, voice becomes data.

This conversion takes place in either the IP phone or the VoIP adapter. In many instances, a phone call will not travel entirely over a data network. Instead, it may travel some portion of the distance over the PSTN. In all cases, the call will be converted to IP packets when it travels over a data network and traditional TDM protocols when it travels over the PSTN.

When voice signals are translated into packets, you can access a variety of special features, including voicemail to email transcription, sophisticated call forwarding, call reporting and analytics, and much more. The phone becomes so much more than just an instrument to place calls.

What’s Required to Use VoIP

Many businesses access VoIP phone service through a hosted provider. They pay a monthly fee for the service and equipment. The provider maintains all the system components so you don’t have to staff specialized telephony experts.

You will need a high-speed Internet or private Ethernet connection. At the desktop, you’ll need an IP phone or VoIP adapter to connect to a traditional phone. In most cases, the IP phones are “plug and play,” meaning you plug them into your connection and you’re ready to go. If you want to make use of softphone applications, you’ll need a computer equipped with a microphone.

To learn more about VoIP, download FairPoint Communications’ latest white paper titled “The Complete Guide to Hosted VoIP.”

By providing more streamlined, intelligent and cost-efficient solutions, FairPoint Communications helps businesses of any size get the most from their voice applications. FairPoint offers two voice options: Hosted PBX and SIP Trunking. A cloud-based voice service, FairPoint’s Hosted PBX eliminates capital investments in telecommunications equipment. SIP Trunking leverages an organization’s existing on-premises equipment by connecting it to FairPoint’s advanced softswitch network. Both options simplify network requirements, provide access to enhanced features and lower operational costs.

For more information on FairPoint Hosted PBX or SIP Trunking solutions, visit http://business.fairpoint.com/advanced-business-services/voice-services/

Chris is the former Vice President of Product Management at FairPoint Communications, a leading provider of advanced communications technology in northern New England and 14 other states across the U.S.