An Introduction to Enterprise VoIP

What It Is & Why Your Company Needs It

This guide provides a comprehensive overview of VoIP solutions for Enterprises. Discussing exactly what VoIP is and how it works, you’ll get a full understanding of the enterprise grade features and functionality offered, the unparalleled benefits of leveraging VoIP and the simplicity of choosing and implementing the right solution.

What is VoIP?

Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), also known as IP telephony, is a group of technologies that deliver voice communications and multimedia sessions over the internet. VoIP solutions allow users to make calls using a broadband internet connection in place of a traditional, or analog, phone line. VoIP endpoints include dedicated desktop IP phones, softphone applications running on PCs and mobile devices, as well as web-enabled browsers.

Whether you know it or not, you’ve definitely heard of VoIP. Skype is one of the most-known web-based consumer VoIP services currently in use worldwide. With over 663 million users, Skype lets you not only connect via voice communications, but also through video and chat technology, on a computer. In the simplest of forms, this VoIP technology is a staple in modern communication and already a household concept.

According to a Forbes study, over 34 million Americans use some sort of internet telephone service.

Now, taking it a step further, let’s discuss VoIP solutions as it relates to today’s business telephone systems environment.

Until the 1980s, businesses made traditional phone calls via the Public Switched Telephone Network (PTSN). This included the burden of investing big money and space into clunky copper wiring and switches. Since then, innovation has come a long way, and with the invention of VoIP, phone calls could be made over the same IP data networks as a computer (and now, in today’s world, smartphones and tablets). So, businesses caught on pretty quickly, and Cloud VoIP took off.

With VoIP phone systems, businesses are able to achieve high-quality communications for a fraction of traditional legacy setups and significantly greater functionality.

Cloud VoIP is currently the most powerful version of business phone service that allows modern businesses to send and receive voice, video, and data communications through their internet network.

Yes, we’ve moved beyond just voice! We’ve entered into a time where businesses are communicating via voice, email, SMS, messaging, and video all over one highly feature-rich VoIP phone system.

In short, Cloud VoIP for enterprises is a revolutionary technology that has not only re-defined how businesses communicate and collaborate internally, but has also set the bar higher in customer relationship management.

VoIP is NOT Your Traditional Telephony

Let’s step back for a moment and dive a little deeper into the history of VoIP. That way, everything else will make more sense.

VoIP transmission began in 1973 as a result of the experimental Network Voice Protocol. However, it took until 1995 for the first internet VoIP phone to be brought to market.

Early adopters quickly recognized the potential of transmitting over the internet instead of through traditional phone lines, and by 1998, VoIP traffic represented 1% of all voice traffic in the United States. By 2004, the introduction of VoIP calling plans permitted subscribers to make phone calls as any other telephony company service, and that is when VoIP really took off.

Fast forward to today…

When VoIP first began to trend among businesses around the world, the advanced technology was considered nice to have and a suggested telecommunications solution. That is all in the past.

Communications between employees, customers, and clients are the foundation of any successful company. Without the steady, reliable and efficient flow of knowledge, a business cannot and will not succeed. In today’s world, the use of cloud-based communications is a necessity rather than a want.

The question is, “Why?” …

Looking at the average VoIP phone, you’re probably thinking it doesn’t look much different from any analog phone you’ve ever seen. Well, that’s true. VoIP phones look pretty similar but don’t be deceived; there is much more to a VoIP phone than meets the eye.

For example, …

VoIP phones are capable of HD voice, while traditional business phones are not.

A common myth surrounding cloud VoIP is that call quality is sacrificed when calling over the internet. Don’t listen to those rumors! HD Voice offers at least double the audio range of that traditional look-alike phone, which means that the quality of business calls using a VoIP phone is unparalleled.

While HD Voice is only scratching the surface of differences between VoIP and traditional telephony, it’s often the most underestimated differentiator.

Let’s take a look at a few other important differences:

  • Traditional systems have dedicated lines, whereas VoIP allows for all channels to be carried over one internet connection.
  • Traditional phone system users will have to pay extra for features like call waiting and caller ID, but these features are usually included with VoIP service.
  • Long distance calling is usually per minute or a bundled minute subscription for traditional phone systems, but VoIP users can enjoy unlimited long distance calling, included in the monthly service fee.
  • Feature upgrades and system expansions require new, clunky equipment and line provisioning, while VoIP is 100% scalable with upgrades and line additions usually just requiring bandwidth to perform the software upgrades.

Features of an Enterprise VoIP System

Today, we are seeing a rapid shift to VoIP phone systems for a wide range of benefits including the delivery of such a robust feature set that drives performance, collaboration and productivity for enterprises.

Taking full advantage of the technology, enterprises are given complete control over their business communications through a single user-friendly solution that helps them stay connected, anywhere, at any time, and on any device.

  • Includes 500+ phone system features
  • Individual DID, Toll Free numbers and minutes included
  • Up to 65,000 users and 1000 branch offices per Enterprise customer
  • Centralized management. Connect multiple offices.

VoIP offers a rich, integrated Unified Communications (UC) feature set for differentiated service bundles.

Integrated UC features include:

  • Collaboration (Voice Conference, Screen share, Video)
  • Presence
  • Mobility (Smartphones, Tablets, Laptops and more)
  • Integrated multichannel desktop and phone panel
  • Conference Phone Collaboration Point inter-working
  • Microsoft Lync integration
  • Dynamic Extension

Feature Snapshot:

  • Audio & Video
  • Calling
  • Audio & Video Conferencing
  • Instant Messaging
  • Group Chat
  • Presence Visibility w/Control
  • File Sharing/Screen Sharing
  • Call Recording
  • Softphone Calling
  • Voicemail Retrieval
  • Voice-to-Email Transcription
  • Fax-via-Email
  • Screen Recording

Enterprise VoIP Security

With data being transferred over the internet, VoIP solution providers must make data security an absolute priority in order to ensure their customers are properly armored against the widest range of data security risks.

Securing information with cloud VoIP by adhering to best-in-class industry standards and data security protocols is not an option, but a requirement.

Examples of full scope countermeasures:

  • Encrypted signaling protocol
  • Deploying Session Border Controllers (SBC) in data centers to protect against voice network attacks
  • Data centers that provide 99.99% availability with geo-redundancy for workload balance
  • TCP for call signaling to ensure end-to-end call completion
  • Encrypted voice communications using Secure Real-Time Transport Protocol (SRTP) with 128-bit AES encryption adding confidentiality, message authentication and reply protection
  • Password protecting user interfaces including online portals, desktop, and mobile applications, as well as VoIP phone handsets
  • Providing private link voice traffic with an MPLS circuit

The Simplicity of Setting Up Your Enterprise VoIP System

Simplicity is key when migrating to a VoIP solution and being proactive in preparation, pre-migration, is what will contribute most to a positive experience.

As part of the VoIP implementation process, enterprises may have to increase the bandwidth capacity in order to successfully power the new VoIP phone system. This should, and is often, something that the business development executive will discuss during the initial stages, and if not, then it’s time to find another provider.

The VoIP service provider assists in determining LAN and WAN infrastructure requirements and includes any provisioning in the plan.

From there, setting up an Enterprise VoIP system is seamless and without disruption or downtime.

While no two VoIP service providers are the same, and experiences may vary, the implementation process should be a breeze and fully managed by the provider’s support and provisioning team.

What to Look for When Choosing a VoIP for Your Enterprise?

When choosing the best VoIP provider for your enterprise, there is a slew to compare and choose from. So how does an enterprise decide? With an average of 14 decision-makers involved in selecting an Enterprise VoIP solution, it’s critical that each stakeholder fully understands what they are getting themselves into with a VoIP service provider.

You have to move slowly and do your homework…

Don’t choose your VoIP service provider solely based on price, especially. In many circumstances, “you get what you pay for.”

It comes as no surprise the #1 complaint among enterprises is that their customer experience with their VoIP service provider is mediocre at best, and downright frustrating at worst. It’s never a good thing to feel like just a number in a sea of other customers bidding for equal attention. That’s why it’s critical that enterprises look at the entire picture before deciding on which solution is going to not only fit their needs but become a long-term fruitful partnership.

Here are some critical questions that need to be asked before moving forward with any provider:

  1. Do they offer user training? Is it free?
  2. Is there US-based customer support? Is it 24/7/365?
  3. Will I have a dedicated account manager?
  4. Does the provider listen to my needs and uniquely tailor my experience?
  5. Do they offer a lifetime warranty on hardware?
  6. Are features and upgrades included?
  7. Is there a Service Level Agreement?
  8. Is there a Business Continuity Plan in cases of system outages?
  9. Is the provider conscious of my budget?
  10. Will I receive regular communication regarding new features available to me?

Making the Switch to Enterprise VoIP

Whether businesses like it or not (they should), everything is entering the virtual environment. There was a time where phones were the only source of communication for businesses, and while that was an incredible advancement for the business world, phones are now only the foundation of communications.

Cloud VoIP and Unified Communications (UC) is the new generation, and it’s undeniable that enterprises that do not adopt modern forms of telecommunications will not see progress, if that is, their doors even stay open.

Between instant messaging, web conferencing, video conferencing, e-mailing, fax via email, and so many other new methods of communications, it’s a necessity for companies to adopt VoIP solutions. It may seem complex for many “traditional” users; however, it is implemented seamlessly and incredibly user-friendly – even for those that are not technologically savvy.