VoIP, or Voice over Internet Protocol, is a method of holding voice conversations over a broadband connection without the need to incur any kind of call charges.
It has been around for several years in various forms, but is now extremely popular amongst both business and home users as broadband speeds have increased and VoIP has become widely used. VoIP services still require an analogue audio signal, but this is translated into a digital signal by a computer and then sent via a broadband internet connection rather than a Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN).
In many cases people use simple headsets with microphones attached in order to communicate using VoIP. However, there are several devices which look and behave exactly like traditional telephone units but are in fact designed for use with VoIP to ensure that the experience is as familiar and easy to pick up as possible.
It is not just larger businesses that can benefit from VoIP services, as there are many companies and operators who cater specifically to the requirements of small and medium enterprises. If you want to switch your entire telephone system over to VoIP you can choose a full package from a variety of sources.
A standard package will usually include a VoIP phone unit, supplied by one of the major electronics manufacturers and you should be able to specify the number of these that are needed. You will also be supplied with a telephone number via which you can be contacted.
One of the best things about VoIP is that calls can be made between VoIP and traditional analogue telephone services without any hassle, though any non-VoIP to VoIP calls will be charged in a similar way to most landline telephone calls. Some VoIP services for small businesses will come complete with inclusive calling credit to cover the cost of such calls.
In essence, if you choose a VoIP package provided by a third party for your business you should expect it to allow all of the same capabilities as a normal business telephone system, but with all of the benefits and conveniences of VoIP.
However, if you wish you go it alone it is possible to set up VoIP for your business extremely cheaply, which is especially desirable if you are a home worker or have one or two employees. Services like Skype, which allow for VoIP users to sign up and create accounts for free, are simple to use and also allow instant messaging and video conferencing.
The final VoIP consideration that small business owners should make is in relation to mobile VoIP. Several mobile network providers now offer VoIP services via their high speed mobile networks. This allows for extremely cheap calling whilst you are out and about using the same VoIP technology as you would be able to access in the office.
Obviously choosing the right VoIP service or provider can be difficult, but like mobile broadband comparison it pays to shop around and consult with experts in the field before you commit. Serious savings can be made by small businesses which pick up VoIP packages.