We could talk about Voice-over-IP long enough to put anyone to sleep. Call us for more details (or relief from insomnia) as needed, or just read on to find out the answer to the most Frequently Asked Questions.

Is VOIP another one of those communications industry acronyms that AT&T and CISCO conspired on to soak the telecom budgets of unsuspecting companies?

The communications business is filled with acronyms that, even when they’re decoded, don’t mean much to most end-users. Try as we might to avoid it, it’s just about impossible not to speak in tongues when explaining communications technology. But we’ll give it a try. VOIP stands for Voice Over Internet Protocol, which is simply a method for transporting voice from one point to another. Instead of the traditional method of copper wires and TDM (Time Division Multiplexing, sorry) switching over the PSTN (Publicly Switched Telephone Network, sorry again), Voice-over-IP uses the Internet to transact phone calls.

What does VOIP smell like?

Voice-over-IP in a business environment manifests itself in a couple of ways.

The first is with IP phones. IP phones are extensions of a phone system that look, work, and even smell just like the phones that are “in the office”. But the IP phones have a longer leash. They can be placed in satellite offices, home offices, trade shows, hotel rooms, and anywhere else a high-speed Internet connection is available. When the user picks up the receiver, they get the same dial tone they get at the office.

The second way that Voice-over-IP is commonly implemented in a business environment is by networking two or more phone systems over Internet Protocol. In a multiple location company, certain locations may be so large that they need their own local telephone numbers. When networked over-IP, multiple systems can act as if they are a single, seamless system – from station-to-station, from outside to inside, and from inside to outside. The systems can share resources - like voicemail or receptionists. And they can provide cost savings by leveraging existing data connections.

Can Voice-over-IP save my company money?

The honest answer is “perhaps”. It depends on how your business operates, how Voice-over-IP is implemented, and how the numbers are spun.

A small business with a single location can stay in touch with customers better, and enjoy the conveniences that IP phones offer, but my not be able to truly cost justify the $1500 or so it takes to get the process started.

Medium and large business with a single location might save money on office space and mileage allowances by allowing employees to truly telecommute.

Businesses with multiple locations might save money by either purchasing only a single phone system with IP-phones, or by pooling system resources like voicemail or by re-deploying the branch office receptionist. Smells like money.

Are VOIP calls free?

As the Zen philosopher and economist A. Nonymous once said, “There’s no free lunch.” You need to have an Internet connection (a broadband one, at that) to facilitate a Voice-over-Internet Protocol call. And you are paying for an Internet connection – aren’t you?. We’d spin it to say that you’re already paying for an Internet connection, so there’s no incremental charge. You get the idea.

What’s a hybrid VOIP system?

We sell Toshiba CIX phone systems, which will allow VOIP phones and VOIP networks to co-exist (seamlessly, mind you) on/between less expensive digital phone systems. While others may try to shove an all-IP phone system into every application, we prefer the “add IP only where you need it” philosophy, because it saves our customers money, and they typically show their appreciation by buying us lunch, contradicting our previous point - about the no free lunch.