Voice-over-Internet Protocol (VoIP) is a communication technology that allows voice calls to be digitized and transmitted over an Internet protocol, rather than through regular telephone circuitry. While it uses the term “Internet”, transmission protocols may include virtual private networks (VPNs) or local area networks (LANs). A significant advantage of transmitting calls this way is that it uses the connectivity of the web, allowing calls to be made to virtually anywhere there is an Internet connection and telephony software or device.
VoIP as a Consumer Product
With an estimated 40.4% of the world connected to the Internet as of mid-2014, there is a massive market for any Internet-based service to take advantage of. Additionally, the proliferation of mobile smartphones—phones that are highly optimized to take advantage of the web—allows traditional calls to be integrated into the web seamlessly. While phone calls can still be made on regular cellular lines, users now have an option to download any of the available VoIP apps and place a call instead using the Internet.
Apps and software like Skype, Viber, Google Hangouts and the like even allows users to make calls via their computers, technically turning their web browsers into an extra phone. One of the advantages of using these apps is that—very often—they allow for more than just two callers to be on the line.
With other advancements like cloud storage of contacts or virtual address books, users can make a call from virtually anywhere that there is an Internet connection—even overseas. Even better is that long-distance calls cost much lower since they don’t add much on top of the Internet bill (unless the consumer opts to buy Skype credits and similar products).
VoIP in the Corporate Setting
With businesses integrating with the Internet more than ever before, technological advancements like VoIPs allow them to reduce costs further while still maintaining connectivity. Because calls are digitized and transferred through the Internet, traditional copper-wire infrastructure can be dismissed in favor of fiber-optic cables, allowing businesses to reduce the cost of maintaining different network architectures.
Additionally, soft phones—or software that allows emulations of calls— like Avaya and Cisco offer a many advantages over traditional phones. They can be integrated into workforce software or other CRM tools to enable users to access more information effortlessly and efficiently. They also integrate easily with some of the best call practices like forwarding and routing, hosted IVRs and auto-dialers, and even emulation of local presence in a specific location.
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