The traditional landline phone network (PSTN) and the ISDN system are both due to be switched off in 2025. This means that sometime between then and now, businesses will have to switch to VoIP (internet telephony). There are, however, many significant benefits to making the change early.
Here, David Hanley, Director of The Red Penguin Group, specialist IT firm, shares his insight into how VoIP systems can benefit your business.
Streamlining your communication system
For some businesses, this can be the most obvious advantage of switching to VoIP. You can end your contract with a landline phone provider. When the contract ends, so does the need for telephone cabling and landline phones.
Depending on your needs, wants and budget, you can replace your landlines with VoIP handsets or just make your calls through software (softphones). Many businesses do a combination of both. Either way, you might be surprised at the benefits this brings.
If you still have fax machines, the benefits are even greater. Moving to VoIP gives you the opportunity to switch to Fax over IP (internet fax). That means you can get rid of your old fax machines. These are always bulky and often highly inconvenient to use. For example, they’re notoriously prone to jamming.
Getting the flexibility, you need
For other businesses, the main attraction of VoIP is its flexibility. With VoIP, you can add and remove phones as you wish. This makes it easy to scale VoIP systems up (e.g., at peak times) and down again (e.g., at off-peak times).
What’s more, the fact that VoIP phones don’t have to be tethered to the landline system means that they offer the portability of mobiles with the economy of landlines. For example, if employees change desks, they just need to log into the VoIP system and start using their old number as usual. This is particularly useful for companies who have, or want to use, hot desking (e.g., to support hybrid working).
Mobile and remote workers can use the phones in just the same way as they would on-site. This is more convenient for them. It also provides a greater level of security for the company. For example, where relevant, phone calls can be recorded and/or monitored in the same way as they would be on site.
Using VoIP also makes your disaster-recovery process much easier. There is no need to figure out how to reroute landlines or put recorded messages in place. If your staff can get online they can use their phones as usual.
Delivering a high level of functionality
Most, if not all, businesses will benefit from the fact that VoIP can deliver a level of functionality that landline systems just can’t match. Even when landlines can offer the features VoIP provides, they generally do so at a much higher cost. A lot of the time, landlines just can’t match the features VoIP offers as standard.
These features may not sound like much when written down. In the real world, however, they can make life a lot easier for everyone. For example, with VoIP, you can have your voicemail messages delivered straight to your email, along with the details of the caller. You can also use advanced call-forwarding options to limit the number of voicemails you receive.
Where VoIP really impresses, however, is its support for unified communications. Essentially, this means that you treat your voice calls as regular network data. You can therefore integrate them with any program that recognises that kind of data. One of the most obvious and common examples of this are “click to call” buttons on websites. They can only be implemented if you use VoIP.
High-quality calls at a low cost
In some cases, the main attraction of VoIP is simply its ability to deliver high-quality calls at a low cost. VoIP is particularly useful for conference calls. In fact, it’s the technology behind the major conference-calling systems (e.g., Zoom, Teams, Slack, Skype, Mitel etc).