Summary: As Los Angeles continues to embrace the digital sphere, technology is changing how we do things, including business. Fortunately, technological innovations help companies achieve new goals and exploit more opportunities. One of these innovations is VoIP.
VoIP, or Voice over IP service, is a relatively new technological advancement that allows for voice communications via various mediums over the Internet Protocol (IP). Although many businesses are familiar with the concept, their knowledge falls short regarding what VoIP equipment they need for successful operations and communications.
VoIP allows you to send and receive calls from clients, coworkers, managers, and other businesses using the internet rather than traditional cellular service or landlines. Not only does this streamline the communications process, but it improves the overall experience for callers on both ends. With the right equipment, VoIP delivers better sound, reliable connections, and easy conversation management.
VoIP equipment, like phones, computers and headsets, are integral for VoIP phone calls. When it comes to VoIP equipment, you have numerous options; however, like all other products, some are better than others. Below, we review the equipment you need for successful VoIP and which are the best.
Your VoIP hardware and equipment checklist
While the concept of VoIP is simple, you need more than a solid internet connection. Here's everything you need to set up to satisfy VoIP requirements.
VoIP phone hardware
Since the primary purpose of VoIP is voice communications, you need reliable VoIP phone equipment to receive and make calls. However, you can't just use any phone for VoIP.
VoIP phones rely on the internet to make and hold calls. They are often wireless, so you don't have to worry about connecting them to an outlet or USB port in your computer. In addition, the wireless feature gives callers more freedom while working by cutting their physical ties to the desk.
Although phones that work with IP technology are typically wireless, they share many of the same features as traditional business phones, such as call waiting, do not disturb, and conference call functions.
Perhaps the most significant advantage of VoIP phones is their versatility. Since they are relatively easy to set up and only require an internet connection, employees can use them in-office or at home for remote work.
As you can see, the phone is among the most important pieces of equipment for VoIP communications. In many cases, the VoIP phone service provider will provide the phone along with other hardware and software. As such, they will also give you specific instructions for VoIP phone setup.
Do I need a special phone for VoIP?
As we said, you can't just use any phone for VoIP. Generally, VoIP phones come in two forms: hard phones and softphones. Both have unique advantages and disadvantages, so it's important to take time to research and determine your company's needs. If you already have a chosen VoIP service company, they can help as well.
VoIP hard phones are similar to traditional ones other than their digital hardware. They are physical phones that sit on your desk, allowing you to make and receive calls like you would with conventional phones. However, they rely on internet connectivity rather than copper wires.
Meanwhile, VoIP softphones are digital, web-based software that you can download. One of the unique things about softphones is that you can download them onto multiple types of devices and use them anywhere. Depending on the VoIP server and your operational preferences, you could download a VoIP softphone onto your personal device, allowing you to take important phone calls even while visiting the Natural History Museum.
Businesses with in-office and remote employees often combine the two types of VoIP phones for maximum productivity and efficiency. However, not all VoIP setup requirements are the same, so check with your provider to see what your options are.
Headsets are essential VoIP equipment if your office uses softphones. Hard phones generally come with receivers and microphones, allowing users to clearly and easily communicate with those on the other line.
However, softphones are web-based applications rather than something you can put on your desk and talk through. Without VoIP headsets, your employees would rely on computer audio and PC microphones, drastically diminishing call quality and experience.
Headsets make talking and listening significantly easier and clearer. Since they are hands-free applications, employees can talk to customers, colleagues, and anyone else without needing a hand to hold the phone. In addition, high-quality headsets produce better audio than a computer, making conversations more productive and hassle-free.
You have hundreds, if not thousands, of options for headsets. While the number of choices may seem overwhelming, it also means you can have ample opportunity to find a headset with unique features. For example, many have volume controls, mute buttons, and other features that can boost call quality and employee efficiency.
Some employers look to save a few bucks by purchasing standard, cheap headsets. Although they will work, they can't offer the same quality or helpful features as those with a slightly higher price tag.
Additionally, if you want to avoid latency issues, it's important to invest in high-quality headsets. The best ones have impressive audio quality and noise-canceling capabilities for clearer voice communications.
Laptops or computers
Phones and headsets make it easy to make and receive voice calls with clear communication, but you need a laptop or computer for effective task management. Most employees use a computer for everyday duties; VoIP communications are no different.
One of the advantages of using VoIP for business calls is that the software works with almost any computer. As a result, your company can continue using the PCs or laptops it has. In addition, remote employees can use their personal laptops to download the software and satisfy VoIP network requirements, all without driving to the office.
Integrating VoIP with your personal computer or laptop also allows you to easily manage your CRM, track phone calls, and update task managers. Although VoIP phone calls are compatible with a wide range of computers and laptops, it's important to ensure you and your employees have reliable systems. An old, outdated computer can negatively impact call quality and connection, regardless of how good the service is.
It should be no surprise that an internet connection is one of the most important VoIP equipment to have. Although VoIP communications do not require overwhelming bandwidth, employees need enough to handle high call volumes.
Fortunately, VoIP does not demand special modems or routers. The most important thing you need to make VoIP calls is the software. However, you want to ensure your internet connection and modem can support calls without frequent drops or connection issues.
If you have a basic internet package, you may want to consider upgrading it if you intend to have several people on the VoIP network. To ensure you have sufficient bandwidth, confirm your internet needs with your internet and VoIP service providers.
In addition, consider asking the IT department to set up VoIP QoS (Quality of Service). This feature can help further boost productivity by allowing you and your employees to troubleshoot VoIP issues while improving phone call quality.
Phone service for your VoIP
After gathering the necessary equipment, the final thing to check off your equipment list is the VoIP phone service provider. The ideal provider has an accessible customer service team, reasonable pricing, and extensive knowledge of VoIP setup and features.
When it comes to VoIP network requirements and setup, your service provider should give your team everything it needs. Most offer the hardware as well as the software.
When looking for a service provider, it is crucial to take your time and do some research. Explore customer reviews, case studies, and anything else that showcases a company's capabilities and reputation.
Generally, the better the service provider, the better your VoIP operations will be. However, it's also important to consider your budget and avoid unnecessary financial strain.
Additional VoIP equipment to consider
The equipment listed above is essential for successful VoIP phone calls. However, you can find additional equipment to add to your VoIP arsenal for boosted productivity and ease of use. In some cases, your VoIP phone service provider may require or provide the following equipment.
Analog telephone adapters
Analog telephone adapters (ATA) are hardware interfaces that connect your fixed-line analog telephone systems and the VoIP lines. You likely need this equipment if you purchase a monthly VoIP phone service rather than a "PC to PC" service.
Like with analog telephone adapters, the type of service you choose will determine if you need handsets. These act as the hardware interface between the VoIP service and the user; they are necessary for certain types of VoIP phones.
You can also find PC handsets for VoIP calls. These come with special software designed specifically for your VoIP service and plug into your computer through the USB port or sound card.
Many VoIP data service providers recommend data switches because they come with virtual LAN and Quality of Service capabilities. These capabilities are highly useful for producing reliable, quality IP-based calls and an overall enjoyable experience.
Can you use a regular phone to make VoIP calls?
The answer to this question depends on what you consider a regular phone.
For instance, businesses in Los Angeles used to rely solely on landlines to make phone calls, whether to colleagues, customers, or other businesses. Rather than an internet connection, these phones relied on electrical pulses and copper wires to transmit sound and host voice conversations. Although this sounds more like a thing of the past than a modern business element, many companies still use traditional phones in their daily operations.
Most businesses that use landline phones use a PBX system, or Private Branch Exchange system. Essentially, companies with this phone system have an internal network that connects employees, allowing them to share the same phone system instead of requiring multiple lines.
Since VoIP systems use the internet to support phone calls, you typically cannot use landline phones as VoIP phones. However, if you have a smartphone with a solid internet connection, you could use it for VoIP communication, depending on the service carrier and software. In addition, analogy telephone adapters allow you to integrate analog phone systems with the VoIP network.
What kind of software do you need to use an internet phone?
Generally, your VoIP phone service provider determines what software you need. The software should support the types of phone calls your business needs to make (one-way calling, conference calls, etc.) while delivering high-quality sound and reliable connections.
The service provider makes managing VoIP communications easier by eliminating the need for an in-house IT team. It maintains and manages the VoIP software and network, so your employees can focus on the actual phone calls.
Do you need UCaaS for VoIP?
UCaaS and VoIP both allow for clear phone calls via the internet, but you don't necessarily need both. In fact, UCaaS encompasses VoIP.
While VoIP only allows IP calls, UCaaS (unified communications as a service) delivers numerous other capabilities. For example, businesses with unified communications can participate in IP-based phone calls as well as video calls, team chat groups, and even file management.
Essentially, UCaaS is the upgraded version of VoIP. While it is not necessary for businesses wanting to embrace IP phone calls, it can easily streamline operations.
California businesses need reliable resources
Finding the best VoIP equipment for your business needs can seem overwhelming at first. However, finding reliable hardware, software, and service providers is essential for successful IP-based phone calls, business operations, and employee satisfaction.
If you need more information on VoIP in Los Angeles, CA, the team at SonicVoip can help. Read our blog for more information.