Monday, June 12, 2006

How Do Business VoIP Solutions Really Work??

The premise behind VoIP solutions is fairly straightforward: instead of using "circuit-switched" technology, where a dedicated path from caller to receiver is reserved for their entire conversation, VoIP phone systems treat voices as data, turning your words into tiny packets of information that are sent over data networks. As they arrive at the receiving end, the data is turned back into audio.

To set up a business VoIP solution, you need several components. A central device manages the calls, the way a private branch exchange (PBX) or key system unit (KSU) does in traditional phone systems. This can be a dedicated piece of hardware such as an IP PBX, a regular PBX that has been IP-enabled, or a server running specialized software. You will also need phones and a data network. In many cases, you may be able to use your existing digital phones and computer network, although you may need to upgrade some of your network hardware.

VoIP solutions handle internal and external calls slightly differently. Internal calls are send purely as data on your company network - often, you can get rid of internal phone cabling entirely. Calls to external phone numbers get sent through the network to a gateway, which connects to the public telephone network. All of your calls connect seamlessly to any phone user - there are no compatibility issues to worry about.

The single biggest advantage of VoIP solutions is for businesses with multiple locations. With VoIP, any and all offices on a LAN or WAN can get the benefits of having a common office phone system, including extension dialing, seamless call transfers, and all the system features. Plus, if they are on the company network, the phone calls are free - even if your offices are located thousands of miles apart.

VoIP Solution for the Small to Medium sized Business

For small to medium sized businesses with between 15 and 200 employees, it is generally more cost effective to select a VoIP provider that is dedicated to this particular market. This is one of the fastest growing areas for VoIP in the business world and is expected to account for more than 1.7 million lines and $1 billion in market size by 2007 according to Forrester Research.

For this particular VoIP market, the provider typically installs a voice enabled router that connects to a T1 or T3 line depending on your telephony and data requirements. This can support all of your voice and data needs for your company and provides a Quality of Service (QoS) such that your voice packets get higher priority than your data packets during high traffic times. A large switch connects the router to your Local Area Network (LAN) and any IP based device can then be connected to the switch whether it be a computer, an IP phone, or just an ATA and a regular analog telephone.

Note that additional phone lines and PCs can be added simply by connecting them to the large voice enabled switch. If you need to add an employee, the system is very flexible. Simply add another VoIP seat (i.e. another phone line) with your web browser, connect your phone to the LAN and you are up and running. No more expensive and time consuming installations to add a telephone line.

VoIP Solution for the Large Business

For this market segment, a large business is considered to be one that has greater than 200 employees.

At the present time there is not too much demand from large companies to move to VoIP. This is because they have usually already paid a substantial amount of money for their PBX and they have the misconception that they would need to throw away their PBX in order to move to VoIP. However this is not the case and there are many VoIP plans that actually make use of the circuit switched PBX.

The VoIP provider adds equipment that converts the circuit switched outputs from the PBX into IP packets and then passes them to a Voice Enabled Router that also handles the company data network. All of the IP packets, voice and data, are then routed to the internet often via T1 or T3 lines. The company may then remove the expensive phone lines or the Primary Rate Interface (PRI) that previously were sent to the PSTN. Typically, large businesses can save over 30% in their monthly telephony costs after switching to a VoIP configuration.

The PSTN and telephone lines or PRI can be removed from the system since all of the data and voice now travel over the internet. However, in practice, a reduced number of standard circuit switched phone lines tend to remain connected to the PSTN purely for backup purposes.

Note that for large companies that are moving to a new building or relocating, there is no better time to move to a VoIP solution. If no PBX is currently owned the setup looks similar to the Small to Medium sized Business (SMB) but on a larger scale.

For assistance is determining just the right business VoIP solution for your applications it's strongly suggested that you make use of the free consulatation services provided by Business-VoIP-Solution.com.

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