Happy Birthday VoIP! 20 Years of Consumer-Friendly Technology
Technology has prompted massive changes in how work is done in America—and around the world. No longer tied to their desks to communicate with colleagues and customers, today’s small business people can connect from literally wherever they are. Phone systems, of course, are still an important part of the small business person’s toolkit, but how those phone systems look, and how they perform has changed drastically.
One important new option that has opened up a great deal of flexibility for today’s on-the-go business people is VoIP – or voice over Internet protocol. VoIP technology turned 20 this year; over those 20 years it’s proven to provide big benefits for small businesses—or, really, businesses of any size.
VoIP: Telephony Solution for the 21st Century
So, what is VoIP? Simply put, VoIP is the transmission of vocal communication over the Internet or other Internet Protocol networks, as opposed to transmission over traditional telephone networks, often referred to as “legacy telephone networks,” which use a form of sound transmission known as time-division multiplexing (“TDM”).
It is the use of the Internet that creates the biggest benefits for consumers. Unlike traditional telephone networks, where users literally pay for every minute they spend on the line, VoIP user simply pay a fixed amount for their Internet service. Savings can be significant. In his recent article Analyzing VoIP Basics Reveals Telephony’s Evolution, telephony expert Jon Arnold suggests that savings of 20-30 percent are common.
TechRepublic has published a whitepaper covering the basics of how VoIP works, the benefits of VoIP and the future of the technology. The whitepaper notes that among VoIP’s many benefits, “VoIP helps in reducing long distance charges, especially international long distance, reducing staff by combining voice-network and data-network management and eliminating redundant functions, [and] adding expanded applications that are not offered by TDM-based systems.”
Flexibility and Tech-Enabled Functionality
VoIP also offers benefits because of its flexibility and the ability to bypass the traditional desktop phone. With VoIP small businesses, and their staff, can be connected from anywhere, any time—through a single business number that offers a big company experience.
Industry observers and experts agree that traditional phone systems don’t have the capacity to meet the needs of the modern business environment. “The legacy phone systems are not really sufficient to support the rich media services that have witnessed such a steep surge in demand today,” says Richard Smith in his SmartDataCollective article, Is VoIP Offering You Any Real Benefit? Smith notes the ease with which VoIP can be used to interface with a variety of other forms of media, such as instant messaging, email and social networking applications, something obviously lacking with legacy telephony systems.
How VoIP Can Meet Your Business Needs
Of course, just as with any new technology, there are potential risks as well as benefits. Security has increasingly become a concern with VoIP. Similarly, VoIP and its ability to interface with numerous other technologies means that utilizing the full potential of this communication system may require specialized knowledge from staff or vendors. Still, VoIP is here to stay and many observers, including Access Direct, believe the benefits far outweigh any drawbacks.
Interested in learning more? We offer a number of products, plans and expertise to help any business meet its communications needs. Get in touch—we can walk you through the options and help you pick a solution that best meets your business needs.