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VoIP, SIP, Hosted: What’s It All About?

Voice over Internet Protocol, or VoIP, is the ability to make phone calls over the internet, much like Skype. It’s quicker, easier and more cost-effective than traditional methods.

However, you can also use the same technology to call real world phone numbers. VoIP telephony allows you to have multiple calls at the same time and call from anywhere in the world using the same number and significantly save on costs.

Unlike a physical copper phone line, VoIP numbers are not attached to any geographic location, meaning you can call from any International number or any area code, providing a huge degree of flexibility for businesses using this feature.

Making calls over a provider’s IP network has a much lower cost than having calls routed over the standard copper telephone service and with most providers, calls that do not leave the world of IP are actually free. The greatest cost difference when using VoIP is when having an international presence, due to the aforementioned location-less nature of IP, it is often deployed by businesses who need to receive inbound voice communications globally, for this cost-saving purpose alone.

What is SIP?

The many methods for facilitating calls over the internet are called protocols, protocols outline a set of rules that a device must follow. One of these is called Session Initiation Protocol or SIP for short and dictates how a call is initialised, modified or ended. Although there are lots of other protocols, SIP has become established as the industry favourite and has been implemented by most providers.

When looking at SIP providers you are predominately choosing between call quality, reliability and feature sets and every provider will have a mix of the three. There are external factors that will affect your SIP service, for example: your internet connectivity.

If you have a poor internet connection that is shared with your data solution you may find that call quality is adversely affected. It is best practise to align both your SIP and internet connectivity with the same provider and to have a designated VoIP-only connection.

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As an illustration, Voip unlimited offer a cost effective VoIP only 1mb connection that will roughly support 10-15 concurrent calls.

Not only will this mean less people to contact for support queries, but it will also improve your service because your first hop out of the door is that of the provider’s core network, reducing latency and/or voice quality degradation.

For businesses, your phone number has no doubt already been widely advertised, so it is good to know that you can port your existing numbers into the new provider.

It is paramount that you are aware that once you have migrated to VoIP; your phone system is now connected to the internet and is, like any other connected device, vulnerable to malicious activity. To ensure that you do not fall afoul of hackers, it is recommended to have your system installed by qualified individuals or business and to have your firewall locked down to allow only traffic to/from your SIP provider.

A slightly different solution would be to have your phone system delivered through the Cloud and can be managed remotely; these are often referred to as “Hosted Solutions”. This will reduce your installation and maintenance costs whilst increasing the security as it is almost impossible for hackers to individually target your SIP solution without first gaining access to the provider’s more sophisticated systems.

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