Businesses have widely adopted voice over Internet protocol (VoIP) phone services as a replacement for landlines and other legacy phone applications.
So, what’s the draw? Whereas landlines transmit data using copper wires, VoIP systems use the Internet to make and receive phone calls. It’s because of that very transportation method that VoIP systems have the upper hand with regard to flexibility, mobility and reliability. Plus, they usually have a lower monthly operational expense, along with a suite of features that aren’t available on older phone systems.
Wondering how we got here? Business phone systems have come a long way since the analog days when you only had the one option.
Now, there are three basic types of business phone systems: on-premises PBX systems, hosted or virtual PBX systems, or a hybrid approach.
On-premises systems are those in which your business has hardware (the PBX) on-site and telephone lines (traditional PBX) or the Internet (IP PBX) are used to facilitate communication.
Virtual systems — or cloud-hosted solutions — are those in which a service provider delivers the same PBX functionality as an IP-based service from geographically redundant and diverse data centers around the country — no physical hardware required, other than desk phones, of course. The most recent wave of hosted phone services are 100 percent cloud-based, completely decoupling the intelligence from a physical phone and storing all feature programming and configurations in the cloud — enabling complete mobility and simplified user management. (One such example is our award-winning OfficeSuite UC®.)
A hybrid approach combines the two, allowing businesses to use hardware (the hybrid PBX) to communicate over telephone lines (PSTN trunks) or IP connections (SIP trunks). This is still an on-premises solution, but bridges the gap between the comfort of using existing technology with the advanced features that come with migrating to a VoIP system.
There isn’t a magic bullet to decide what type of phone service is right for your business. All companies have needs specific to their industries, sure, but also to them.
Your decision process doesn’t have to be a chore, though. That’s why we at Kinetic Business by Windstream put together these five facts about the evolution of VoIP.
1. The first two-way VoIP communication took place via ARPANET in 1974.
What is ARPANET? Think of it as the very first version of the Internet — that existed solely for academic research and military institutions to transmit classified information during the height of the Cold War.
It was that very rudimentary network that enabled VoIP. In August 1974, two computers at MIT’s Lincoln Lab and USC’s Information Sciences Institute successfully tested the first Internet-transmitted voice packet data through continuous variable slope delta modulation — and at the snail’s pace of 16 Kbps. In December of that same year, the first two-way communication occurred using a different combination of algorithms between the Lincoln Lab and Culler-Harrison, Inc.
2. VoIP’s growth spurt started in the late 1990s and the early 2000s, and usage is still increasing.
Another fact: VocalTec was the first company to commercially release Internet phone software, paving the way for today’s VoIP systems.
Not surprisingly, VoIP’s surge closely tracks with the development of the Internet. At the end of 1998, VoIP accounted for less than 1 percent of all voice calls. By 2003, that amount rose to about 25 percent. (The popular online communication tool, Skype, started that same year.)
Advances in Internet connections meant fewer connectivity issues for hosted phone services and improved call quality. In fact, current VoIP phone options can provide high-definition sound, up to 7,000 hertz, compared with a landline’s range between 300 and 3,400 hertz.
As we noted earlier, cost effectiveness and interoperability are some of the main reasons that businesses have caught on to VoIP, but developing technology helped to convince more users of the phone system’s reliability.
There are no signs that this growth will slow down. On Jan. 31, 2014, the Federal Communications Commission began discussions about turning away from the nation’s public switched telephone network lines in favor of a mass IP-network upgrade. Couple that with the fact that wireless networks are only growing stronger as companies will soon introduce 5G, helping to bring 3G and 4G to more rural areas, and that modern businesses are introducing more flexibility and mobility into job requirements.
3. Phoneless calls are possible.
Make calls without a phone? It seems a little preposterous, but it’s all too true. Cloud-hosted solutions allow users to make and receive calls from any device — be it a desktop, laptop or tablet — with a softphone app as long as there is an Internet connection. That means your employees can work in office, remotely or on the go — and transition seamlessly between places and devices. And, you won’t have to worry about keeping your business up and running should disaster strike!
4. VoIP can be your first step into unified communications.
Let VoIP be your business’s introduction to unified communications (UC). True UC brings together all of your business communication methods — VoIP, chat functions, web conferencing and even fax — into a single platform. The benefit? UC not only gives users a streamlined experience, but also a consistent one — across all devices.
5. OfficeSuite UC® has more than 100 features and counting.
OfficeSuite UC® is our 100 percent cloud-based unified communications solution that has more than 300,000 users. We’ve designed OfficeSuite UC® with the user in mind, and because we develop the software, we’re able to add and update all the features most important to you — at no additional cost. Take a look at the top 10 most popular features of our award-winning hosted phone service.
Learn more about how a hosted VoIP phone system can help your business today!