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Understanding VoIP Architecture, Call Components, and Features

Voice over IP (VoIP) continues to be an evolving force in the world of business communication, reshaping and improving how businesses communicate with their customers. But how do you get started with building a VoIP architecture that supports a cloud-based phone system?

We’ve created this guide that goes over core components, elements, and equipment to help businesses make informed decisions, ensuring their VoIP infrastructure aligns with their communication needs and demands.

In this extensive guide, we’ll cover the following essential topics:

  • What is VoIP Architecture?
  • Importance of Efficient Communication Architecture
  • Switching to VoIP: Benefits + Features
  • Key VoIP Call Components
  • Planning Your VoIP Architecture: Best Practices + VoIP Diagrams

Let’s jump into it!

What is VoIP Architecture?

VoIP architecture details how the different components within a VoIP platform connect with each other to deliver voice calling functions.

It is a network topology that determines how real-time audio will travel through your organization’s internet and infrastructure setup to enable VoIP calling.

Voice over IP is the process of converting analog voice signals into digital packets and transmitting them to the desired destination over the internet. This technology makes internet calling possible while reducing long-distance communication costs.

For this to occur effectively, VoIP functions and components typically include:

  • Signaling: Needed for activation and operation of voice calls by allowing devices in the network to communicate with each other.
  • Ability to connect and disconnect calls: Connecting endpoints and transmitting voice in real-time.
  • Database services: Such as locating endpoints (and devices) via IP addresses, generating billing reports, and setting up security.
  • VoIP codecs: Converting voice to digital packets to transmit via endpoints. You can adjust these codecs to meet different criteria for call quality.

We’ll dive more into different VoIP call components below.

Importance of Efficient Business Communication Architecture

Whether setting up a cloud communication system or connecting VoIP to PSTN, you need to consider how you want incoming and outgoing calls to travel within your network. While the concept of VoIP is simple enough, the actual VoIP architecture that makes it all possible is a little more complex. To experience clear and reliable VoIP service, a number of different components must work together seamlessly.

This can be especially challenging in enterprise VoIP environments where hundreds or even thousands of users make calls at the same time. That’s why it’s important for businesses to have a clear understanding of VoIP architecture.

Benefits of Switching to VoIP for Improved Communications

So, with complications and challenges present, why do we recommend you switch to VoIP nonetheless? Simply because these challenges have easy solutions and VoIP is worth the time spent creating a robust and reliable communication system.

Here are the key benefits of including VoIP in your communications architecture:

• Low upfront cost — VoIP works within your existing network, so you don’t need to buy additional equipment, hardware, or software.

• Low-cost calling — Plus, IP calling severely cuts down the costs of international and long-distance calling. So, your business can save on global sales and customer service calls.

• Easy setup and use — Cloud solutions are often easy to set up with minimal installation. Our cloud telephony solution, for example, takes only a few minutes to set up with no need for coding knowledge or an IT team. This also means that you don’t need an in-house IT team to manage and maintain your VoIP system.

• BYOD-friendly — Use your VoIP service from any device and location. This means teams can use their laptops, smartphones, tablets, and computers to make and receive business calls.

• Global connectivity — And, you can use your cloud phone service from anywhere in the world. This means you can connect your local, global, remote, and distributed teams through one phone network, increasing collaboration and operational efficiency. Plus you can use advanced routing rules to ensure incoming calls are routed to the right departments in the right locations.

• Business calling features — You also get access to enterprise-grade functionality with features like local and toll-free numbers, international call forwarding, call routing, dynamic caller ID, IVR/ACD, etc. View our list of VoIP features to get an idea of what such a service entails.

• Local presence — Use these features to build a local presence in target regions and increase call connection rates.

Key VoIP Features

VoIP phone systems can provide an array of features and functionality because of the various components that go into making this service possible. With location-flexibility and high-quality routing, you can expect these top features from most providers:

  • Inbound and outbound call management
  • IVR / ACD systems
  • Advanced routing (time-based, location-based)
  • Simultaneous routing
  • International forwarding
  • Call flow builder
  • Voicemail
  • Fax
  • Caller ID management, and more.

Learn more about the advanced calling features United World Telecom offers.

VoIP Call Components

Now, let’s understand different call components—both hardware and software—that play a significant role in your VoIP architecture:

1. Signaling Gateway Controller (SGC)

The SGC is a translation device that passes call control information between dissimilar networks such as PSTN and IP-based networks. For VoIP architecture, this means establishing different endpoints and enabling functionality where one endpoint communicates with the other – also known as signaling. This gateway makes it easy to connect and translate calls between a PSTN and VoIP line.

The Signaling Gateway Controller is also known as a call agent for its call control functionality. And it also has a media gateway functionality that supports media control protocols such as H.248. This aside, the controller generates call detail records (CDRs), manages bandwidth policing, and provisions media connections.

2. Session Border Controller (SBC)

The SBC is a network component that secures VoIP and SIP-based networks. Typically, this controller is employed in enterprise VoIP infrastructures or networks sending and receiving business, fixed-line, or mobile VoIP services. The SBC is in charge of processing signaling messages and also handling all media traffic. They regulate and balance network traffic flow and manage bandwidth to ensure high performance.

3. Media Gateway

Media Gateways perform a few different functions to enable VoIP calling. The function of a specific gateway depends on your VoIP installation. They are primarily responsible for converting analog voice to digital packets and then transmitting these voice packets using RTP. And may even help with improving call quality through echo cancellation and silence suppression.

Now, if you have a converged PSTN-IP network — where it connects SIP trunks and POTS lines — then media gateways assist in the packetization (digitizing) of data. As such, it supports various trunking and compression algorithms as well as digital processing resources.

4. Media Server

Media servers enable added media-related features like voicemail, IVR, special tones, messages or announcements, voicemail-to-email, call recording, voice-based dialing, and so on. Servers are built to handle hundreds of SIP and VoIP calls occurring simultaneously. This way, they allow you to place and manage multiple calls at the same time.

5. Application Server

Application servers, on the other hand, power applications within your system such as call forwarding, call transfer, call detail records (CDRs), etc. These servers typically work alongside media servers and session controllers to enhance feature functionality.

6. Database Services

Databases record and store important registration details of all SIP devices as well as call logs and history.

7. SIP Services

Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) is an IP that manages the connection and disconnection calls between two endpoints. Because of this capability, SIP plays a significant role in the transmission of voice, video, and messaging across the internet.

8. Cloud PBX

A cloud PBX is an IP-enabled PBX that businesses can use as a control center for their communication systems. The PBX uses SIP trunkings for voice transmissions and it comes with other core telephony features such as IVR, routing, extensions, etc.

9. Endpoint Devices

These are your VoIP devices or devices you use to make and receive VoIP calls. These include IP phones, computers, laptops, softphones, fax machines, etc., that work with your VoIP phone service.

10. IP Network

An IP network connects multiple computers and devices via their specific internet protocol (IP) addresses. This allows users within this network to securely send and share information between established endpoints.

11. VoIP Codecs

To ensure high-quality audio during calls, codecs convert analog signals into digital packets in various degrees of compression. The best codecs for HD VoIP calls are G.711, G.722, and G.729.

Planning Your VoIP Architecture: Best Practices

When deciding how you want to set up VoIP within your business, you will need to keep in mind:

1. Determine Communication Needs

Start by understanding your existing setup and future expansion goals. In other words, what you need to support your business’ current communication needs, and what you may need to help the business grow and scale. The first step to planning your VoIP architecture is to determine your call needs. Consider these questions:

  • How many employees do I need to support now?
  • Where are my employees and customers located?
  • What kind of phone and network coverage will I need?
  • Do I have to support local, remote, global, and/or distributed teams?
  • Where will the organization be in 1-2 years? What communication needs might arise then?
  • Are there any problems we can solve with our new architecture? (new software, advanced routing, etc)
  • What VoIP features and functionalities will help teams be more productive and efficient?
  • What remote tools will my teams need access to?

Once you have answered these questions, you can start to identify providers and solutions that can help you achieve your goals.

Similarly, you’ll need to decide if you want to go fully cloud-based or simply upgrade your in-house PBX system with a SIP trunking service.

Related: Cloud PBX vs On-Premises PBX: Which is Right for Your Business?

2. Determine Bandwidth Requirements

This is an important step because if you don’t plan for bandwidth capacity in advance, call quality and connection will be affected. From what you receive from your ISP, you’ll need to set aside a chunk of bandwidth specifically for VoIP. Otherwise, your calls will compete with other internet activity, leading to lower quality.

To decide how much bandwidth you’ll need, consider the number of employees making calls simultaneously. Here’s a quick reference guide:

Number of Concurrent Calls Bandwidth Recommended
1 100 Kbps
5 500 Kbps
10 1 Mbps
15 1.5 Mbps
20 20 Mbps

Since VoIP calls require high-speed internet at all times, you want to make sure your ISP can support your VoIP service. This means contacting your ISP and VoIP providers and ensuring both services are compatible with your internet requirements.

3. Use VoIP Diagrams

Deciding which VoIP components and features are significant and how to place them in your infrastructure can be overwhelming. This is where VoIP diagrams come in handy. But first, what is a VoIP diagram?

VoIP diagrams help you illustrate how your network should be configured optimally and efficiently by outlining in a visual format.

VoIP diagrams help you decide how many endpoints you need to cover, what each endpoint needs, and how to connect all these different functioning parts together.

Here are some examples of VoIP diagrams to help you build your internal architecture:

A diagram of a VoIP architecture.

Still not sure what’s the right setup for your business? Our telecom experts can help you out! Chat with one of us today.

4. Get Reliable VoIP Services

Once you have an idea of how to set up your VoIP phone system, you’ll need to subscribe to a VoIP service. Take time to research and identify the right VoIP provider to meet your needs and budget.

  • When researching or changing VoIP providers, look for a provider who:
  • Has a variety of calling features,
  • Is compatible with your existing infrastructure,
  • Supports your forwarding and routing needs,
  • Covers your local, remote, and global teams,
  • Meets your communication budget and is scalable, and
  • Does not require additional fees or long-term commitments.

Most providers offer a free trial or demo to see how their service works in action. Try these out to get a feel for the service’s usability and interface. Once you’ve decided on the provider, you can set up your new phone system and train employees on how to use it.

We recommend businesses avoid using multiple VoIP providers as that situation can quickly become complicated. For instance, your architecture needs to comfortably integrate multiple providers and their products, which is hard to do. Additionally, when a crisis hits, it can prove difficult to identify the source of a technical issue and troubleshoot it. On top of that, your teams are tasked with juggling multiple contracts, regulations, and agreements. Working with only one global provider can simplify your processes and increase efficiency.

5. Plan Network Monitoring & Security

As with any new product, conduct regular checks to ensure your VoIP architecture is working as desired. It helps to decide how your teams will do this beforehand so you don’t waste crucial time later. This especially helps in disaster recovery.

Typically, a VoIP network requires constant monitoring; this can be done on both the provider and your end. Since VoIP is cloud-based and hosted, your provider will have network monitoring protocols in place to ensure calls are routing smoothly and without interruption. On your end, you’ll want to ensure your system meets essential VoIP requirements such as enabling QoS settings, checking uptime, running speed tests, and more.

Use our VoIP troubleshooting guide to determine and resolve common VoIP problems that can affect call quality.

Part of network monitoring is ensuring security is set in place and protecting your systems as required. As internet-dependent, VoIP systems are prone to issues like attacks on the network, viruses, remote eavesdropping, and so on. This means watching for cyber-attacks and data breaches and planning in advance how to tackle them. Common security best practices include:

  • Routinely changing and implementing strong passwords
  • Encrypting WiFi or using a secure VPN
  • Enabling network address translation (NAT) when required
  • Keep systems and equipment up to date
  • Educating employees on security measures, and so on.

To learn more, check out our guide to VoIP security.

Adding United World Telecom as Your VoIP Provider

Building your business’ VoIP phone system can seem overwhelming; after all, you need to efficiently fit multiple pieces together. That’s where a professional VoIP service can support you.

For over 27 years now, we, at United World Telecom, have been assisting businesses and enterprises set up their VoIP phone service. From supplying you with VoIP services to responsively troubleshooting any issues that come up, you can rely on our 24/7 support team and telecom experts.

Want to see our service in action? Book a demo today! Call us at 1 (877) 898 8646 or chat with us online! We’re here to help!

Can VoIP Be Used for International Calls?

Gone are the days of using an outdated and expensive phone service to make international calls. There’s a better way to call your customer overseas. VoIP offers a more reliable and feature-rich solution with cost-savings along the way.

Is VoIP Good for Calling Internationally?

Yes, voice over IP (VoIP) works great for international calling.

The technology has been around for years. But in the past, you needed a level of technical knowledge to use VoIP. But nowadays, making international calls with VoIP is easier than ever.

Throughout its early history, VoIP was also primarily used by residential users and people in developing countries that wanted to call overseas. But in the last few decades, more and more businesses have started using VoIP for business calling.

With a fast and easy setup, you can use this solution across multiple devices. As long as you have a stable internet connection and sufficient bandwidth, you can make high-quality international calls through VoIP.

Benefits of Calling Internationally with VoIP

So, why should you use VoIP for international business calling?

• High-quality calls
When making business calls, call quality is of the utmost importance. The best VoIP providers will ensure excellent call quality when making international calls.

• Two-way calling and local caller ID
Our VoIP solution enables you to call internationally with a local number. This means that your team can make calls to anywhere in the world and show a local number that corresponds to the country they’re calling. This will improve connection rates and leave a callback number if the call is missed.

• Portability
Whether your agents work from a central office, overseas, or remotely, they’ll be able to make international calls with your VoIP service. And to add to that, agents can make calls on the go using multiple devices.

• Reliability
Provided you have the right setup in place, VoIP is very reliable. Many providers guarantee upwards of 99.9% availability, and some providers even boast zero downtime.

If something goes wrong, issues with VoIP are easier to troubleshoot than with an on-premises system.

• Affordability and cost-savings
Affordability is one of the major benefits of using VoIP to call internationally. Because calls are delivered over an internet connection, calls are cheaper than traditional PSTN calls. This cost-savings is passed from provider to customer.

• Scalability
VoIP allows you to add and remove lines and users as needed. Don’t worry if the global ambitions of your business slow down. You can just pause the VoIP service and pick it back up when ready.

In addition to the benefits above, installation and maintenance costs are traditionally lower when using VoIP compared to traditional on-premises phone systems.

How Do I Use VoIP to Make International Calls?

To make international calls using VoIP, you must enter a plus sign or dial-out prefix, the country code, and the phone number you want to call.

For example, if you want to call a phone number in the United States from overseas, you would enter + 1 and then the subscriber number you want to reach. Make sure to include the subscriber’s area code.

It’s that simple. You can do it using an IP phone, computer, or app on your mobile phone. In today’s day and age, the user experience is quite seamless.

Are International Calls Free With VoIP?

International VoIP calls are not free — the charge depends on the countries involved. However, using VoIP for international calling is typically far cheaper than using a traditional phone service.

As you probably know, traditional phone service providers can charge an arm and leg for international calling. So, if you want to make cheap international calls, VoIP is the best way to do that.

In fact, VoIP providers can be up to 90% more cost-effective than traditional phone service providers for international calling. For many countries, international VoIP calls can cost as little as 2 cents per minute.

But it depends on your provider, the package you choose, and the countries you call.

What is the Best VoIP Provider for International Calls?

If you’re looking for a VoIP provider to use for your international calling needs, there are a few factors to evaluate. While you’ll find many different providers in the market, not all of them provide the same services. So, you’ll need to consider the specific needs of your business and make an informed decision.

Similarly, when it comes to international calling, not all VoIP providers use the same termination and routes to deliver calls. Some providers will try to cut costs and use low-quality routes.

Here at United World Telecom, we use only the highest quality routes to deliver international calls. In addition, we have a state-of-the-art global telecom network with multiple layers of redundancy.

To get started, all you need to do is sign up through our website. Our 24/7 tech support team and account teams will help you every step of the way.

Optimizing for VoIP in India: What You Need to Know

With the growing popularity of VoIP phone services, more and more businesses are using VoIP to communicate reliably and cost-effectively. This includes businesses trying to expand their global reach and grow in target markets.

Voice over IP or cloud telephony makes it easy to communicate across geographical areas via the internet. However, restrictions and unreliability can interrupt this comfort if your VoIP phone system is not properly optimized or compliant.

In this article, we’ll discuss optimizing VoIP for India — from understanding regulations to implementing best practices.

Using VoIP in India

While VoIP runs sufficiently well on its own, the best way to make the most out of your VoIP phone system is by optimizing it. To do this, you’ll need to:

  • First, understand local VoIP regulations to maintain compliance,
  • And second, build your VoIP infrastructure with the right tools and strategies.

Together, this will optimize your phone system so it connects and terminates calls effectively without any interruption. After all, without the ability to properly communicate with customers, how will your business grow?

Related: Is VoIP Legal Around the World?

Restrictions to Pay Attention to

While VoIP telephony is not illegal in India, there are a few restrictions. And if you plan on doing business within the country, then you need to understand how VoIP works there. These regulations are overseen by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) and the Department of Telecommunications (DoT).

Here are the key restrictions in India to pay attention to:

  • No call routing should happen against the interest of the local PSTN service provider with respect to toll bypass.
  • IP to PSTN/landline calls are not allowed — cannot terminate VoIP calls to PSTN lines in India
  • Cannot use VoIP gateways within India
  • IP phones should work only within their VoIP infrastructure and should not connect to the public network or WAN.
  • Calls that run through PSTN gateways should never connect directly to a VoIP phone or VoIP PSTN gateway in a different geographical location

*Note: Regulations and restrictions mentioned in this article are current at the time of publishing and are subject to change.

VoIP in India: What is Allowed?

The above restrictions may seem discouraging but remember that VoIP is legal in India to a certain extent. With that in mind, what is allowed?

  • Calls between two VoIP phones (IP to IP) in the same region or different geographical locations
  • Calls from VoIP to PSTN gateway in the same geographical area.

facing issues with voip

What Does This Mean for Businesses in India Using VoIP?

So, how do these restrictions impact businesses in India? Let’s look at different use cases:

1. You have a company in India and solely do business with prospects within the country.

In this case, VoIP is legal if the prospects you call also use VoIP or internet telephony. Don’t try calling from VoIP to PSTN or landlines.

2. You have a company in India but solely do business internationally.

In this case, you can make IP calls to any international location as long as the call originated from IP and terminated to IP.

3. You have a company outside of India and want to do business locally.

You will need an Indian local phone number to make calls to customers in the country. However, these calls must display the true caller ID, which is the ID of the caller’s location. In other words, masking your caller ID to display a local number is illegal.

Thankfully, VoIP providers that work closely with local Indian telecom operators can get you a solution that works within India’s caller ID regulations. In most cases, they establish local points of presence (PoPs) and route calls through local routes instead of international routes, respecting local PSTN setups.

A diagram showing how VoIP works for PSTN calls to India.

Optimizing for VoIP in India: Factors Affecting VoIP Call Quality

Now that we’ve understood how VoIP works in India, let’s look at how to optimize your VoIP phone system.

Optimizing for VoIP in India means three things:

  1. Make sure you meet all necessary VoIP network requirements
  2. Troubleshoot common call quality issues and
  3. Use the right VoIP phone service.

First, let’s look at the different VoIP network requirements and many factors impacting call quality:

  1. Internet quality and bandwidth usage
  2. VoIP codecs
  3. Quality of Service (QoS) settings
  4. VoIP phone service provider

1. Internet Quality and Bandwidth Usage

For any VoIP service to function efficiently, you need a stable and reliable internet connection and enough bandwidth. This is simply because VoIP calls travel over the internet.

So, first, check your internet speed using online testing tools. Remember that you will need to set aside quite a bit of bandwidth for only VoIP calls. Other activities such as browsing, email checking, web surfing, additional applications, etc., can reduce how much bandwidth is left for calls to travel efficiently. And if you have low bandwidth, you will have slower speeds and a lower-quality voice.

According to the FCC, VoIP calls require internet speeds that have less than 0.5Mbps (minimum download speed) download. Note that this is the minimum requirement.

To calculate the bandwidth needed for your VoIP system, you need to understand your business’ call flow and other internet activities. Consider these:

  • How many phone lines do you need?
  • How many calls will occur concurrently?
  • Will other applications run simultaneously on the same network?
  • What upload/download speed does your ISP provide?
  • What voice codecs does your VoIP/ISP provider offer?

Next, use this chart to determine how much bandwidth is recommended for your approximate concurrent calls. For high call quality, the recommended range of bandwidth for each concurrent VoIP call is anywhere from 85-100Kbps.

Number of Concurrent Calls Bandwidth Recommended
1 100 Kbps
5 500 Kbps
10 1 Mbps
15 1.5 Mbps
20 20 Mbps

You can also check with your VoIP provider to understand what they recommend for their particular service. Then, ensure your ISP is able to provide what your office needs to make VoIP efficient.

2. VoIP Codecs

Next, you want to make sure that you use the right codecs for voice and audio. VoIP codecs digitize voice signals into data packets (compression). Once transported, the codecs convert them back to voice (decompression).

This process of compressing and decompressing voice signals directly impacts call quality. And if not done properly, it can lead to latency, jitter, packet loss, and more. So, you and your VoIP provider need to work together to ensure codecs are adjusted properly to improve voice quality and reduce bandwidth usage.

Now, which codecs are best for VoIP? The general consensus is that G.711 offers the best call quality. Although, most providers also accept G.729 (low bandwidth alternative) or G.722 (not offered by most). Here’s a chart for reference:

Codec Bitrate Bandwidth Usage
G.711 64 Kbps 87.2 Kbps
G.722 48-64 Kbps 80 Kbps
G.729 8 Kbps 31.2 Kbps

3. Quality of Service (QoS) Settings

You can also use QoS to optimize your VoIP system and fix voice quality issues by prioritizing network traffic that passes through the router. Through this process, you give more bandwidth value to VoIP calls over other kinds of traffic.

This means your calls don’t compete with web browsing or streaming. And, by extension, you reduce network congestion so that inbound and outbound calls are not affected.

To change your QoS settings, you’ll need to work with your ISP and VoIP provider to get exact instructions for your particular setup. However, implementing QoS changes does not take very long and you can expect it to work in your favor soon.

4. VoIP Phone Service Provider

This one goes without saying: Optimizing for VoIP in India is incomplete without the right VoIP phone service provider.

The above-mentioned tips will help you build a good foundation for VoIP. However, without a reliable provider, your call quality can experience issues leading to dropped calls, calls that don’t connect, and so on.

Plus, if you have an unresponsive provider – or one who is hard to reach – you’ll end up having to troubleshoot quality issues on your own. This can prove tricky if you do not have an in-house IT or telephony engineering team.

Lastly, since VoIP in India is a slightly tricky affair, you want to make sure you work with a provider who knows what they are doing. You want a VoIP provider that has been working in the country for a long time and understands the different regulations and restrictions well.

This will require some research, but as you shop around, look out for telecom companies that have been doing this for a few decades. Ask them how they comply with these regulations and provide reliable connectivity. This will also help you determine the company’s responsiveness and credibility.

Get VoIP for India

As you can see, optimizing for VoIP in India is a relatively easy task when you know what needs to be done. For more tips, check out our guide on how to achieve the best VoIP call quality for business.

And if you don’t know where to start, contact our telecom experts. We can help you find the right solution that is reliable and compliant. Call us today at 1 (877) 898 8646 or chat with us online!

How to Switch to VoIP? (& 6 Reasons Why You Should)

Traditional phone systems are holding your business back from increased growth, efficiency, savings, flexibility, and more. This is why companies — from small businesses in the US to tour packages in Europe — switch to VoIP, as it offers everything from scalability to affordability. So, if you’re looking to cost-effectively upgrade your business communication, voice over IP is the solution for you.

In this article, we’ll cover why and how to switch to VoIP, and dive deeper into reasons to migrate.

When to Migrate to Cloud Communication?

High monthly bills, issues with call quality, and unacceptable downtime are all clear signs that it’s time to modernize your legacy system and switch to VoIP.

But, what are the less obvious indicators that an upgrade to your system is necessary? Here are some questions to consider:

  • Do you manage global or remote teams?
  • Can your current phone system support your failover, disaster recovery, or business continuity plans?
  • Are you planning to expand to new markets or regions? Or, do you already have customers in different countries?
  • Is it hard and time-consuming to make changes to your current system as needed? Specifically, with call routing and forwarding capabilities?
  • Do you need features like IVR, caller ID management, or call recording to provide a more efficient and enhanced service to customers?

Even if you answered yes to only one of these questions, you would benefit from a VoIP phone system. And in most cases, your business benefits in more than one way.

From connecting your distributed teams to offering increased functionality, a voice over IP solution can help you accomplish business goals while also improving business processes – all under one platform.

Landlines vs VoIP: The Difference in How They Work

But what if you have a landline phone system set up? And how are landlines different from VoIP?

Let’s start by defining the difference between traditional landline systems and voice over IP networks. This will not only help you better understand elements of the migration process, but also the above mentioned reasons to switch.

When you make a call using a landline, it travels via the Public Switch Telephone Network (PSTN). And this long-standing telephone network uses physical phone lines and switching centers to connect your calls.

Since VoIP is a cloud-based service, it operates differently than traditional systems that rely on landline connections and the PSTN. In fact, voice over IP transmits calls to your desired destination using an internet connection and packet-switching technology.

In other words, the main difference between VoIP and PSTN systems is – the first uses digital pathways to transmit calls, whereas the second uses physical phone lines.

Let’s take a closer look at other key differences between VoIP and PSTN:

VoIP PSTN / Landline
Connectivity Make calls via the internet, faster transmissions Make calls via landlines / physical cables and switching centers
Quality Higher call quality, with clearer sound; can fluctuate depending on your IP network Average, consistent call quality
Flexibility & Mobility Highly customizable; place calls from any location and device Less customization; place calls from only one location
Features Variety of advanced calling features Limited features
Price More affordable than PSTN (even with international calling) Expensive (especially for international communication)

6 Reasons to Switch to VoIP

So, why should you make the switch to VoIP? Let’s take a look at 6 reasons to migrate:

1. Save BIG

Voice over IP is an affordable solution for both small businesses and enterprises, especially when compared to legacy systems. This is because it doesn’t rely on physical phone lines, meaning you stand to avoid high international and long-distance calling fees. And since you don’t need additional equipment or routine maintenance to use the service, VoIP also reduces your overhead costs.

2. Access to Advanced Communication Features

Unlike traditional phone networks, many VoIP services include access to additional features that are only available through the cloud. This not only increases the functionality of your system, but also helps you provide a more effective service.

3. Higher Call Quality

Since cloud telephony uses digital pathways instead of copper phone lines, calls travel faster while delivering a clearer, higher-quality sound.

4. Flexibility & Mobility

Typically, you can manage your communication stack through your VoIP provider’s online control panel. In other words, your phone system is accessible and manageable from any location or device.

5. Connect Global Teams

As you can access VoIP from anywhere in the world, it’s the perfect solution for businesses looking to connect international, distributed, offshore, or remote teams.

6. Increased Scalability

Voice over IP is a highly scalable solution. You can upgrade or downgrade your service as needed, all without changing your entire system.

How to Switch to VoIP in 7 steps

How to Switch to VoIP? 7 Steps

Now, let’s go through the migration process and discuss how to switch to VoIP. Here are the 7 steps we will cover:

1. Plan Your Switch

Transitioning to cloud communications is typically a straightforward process, especially if you have an effective plan in place. And a well-thought-out plan always begins with defining your communication needs.

Here’s a checklist to help you identify them:

  • Establish an overall budget. How much are you willing to spend on equipment, features, add-ons, plans, and so on?
  • Figure out your pain points with your current phone system. What do you wish you could add or change about it?
  • Outline your business goals for the next 5 years. How can a new phone system help you achieve these benchmarks?
  • Determine your desired services and features. Which ones are essential, and which ones are just nice to have?
  • Decide on your deployment method. Do you plan on modernizing your existing infrastructure or replacing it completely?
  • Consider your average number of calls, number of users/lines, call traffic behavior, and so on. Do you expect these data points to stay consistent or fluctuate over time?

2. Test Your Internet Network

One of the most important VoIP network requirements is a stable internet connection with adequate bandwidth for your specific call traffic. Without a reliable IP-network, you could run into voice service issues. For this reason, many providers recommend a high-speed broadband connection.

To ensure your network can handle simultaneous calls and to achieve the best call quality, it’s vital to test your internet. You can do so by running a speed test. You can find these online, and they are usually free to use. These tests analyze your IP network’s latency, download speed, and upload speed.

After reviewing these data points, you’ll know how many calls your network can actually handle. Note: You need 100 kbps per line for most voice services. If your current internet connection can’t handle your business’ average call traffic, reach out to your ISP and upgrade your bandwidth before switching to VoIP.

Related: How Much Bandwidth is Needed for VoIP?

3. Prepare Your Infrastructure

Once you’ve figured out your bandwidth requirements, you must evaluate and prepare your current infrastructure.

Start by cataloging damaged equipment or outdated hardware that you wish to replace. This way, when it’s time to purchase new equipment, you know exactly what you need.

During this step, you should also consider the following:

Wired connections vs Wi-Fi – Although VoIP works with wireless networks, it is often recommended that users use wired, Ethernet cables instead. This is because wired connections are more reliable and help prevent congested networks. We recommend using Cat 5e or Cat 6 Ethernet cables.

Multiple routers vs switches – Using multiple, general-purpose routers to connect your devices to the internet can affect call quality, contribute to a congested network, and prompt other technical issues. That’s why many providers suggest using network switches instead, as they extend the functionality of your router. This means, you don’t need multiple routers on your network, so you experience less congestion, delay, and better call quality.

VLAN – A VLAN configuration can help improve VoIP performance and avoid network traffic congestion, meaning a lower chance of voice quality issues. Consider setting one up, especially if you operate a medium-sized business or enterprise.

SIP ALG – Considering disabling the SIP ALG feature on your router, as it may contribute to multiple VoIP problems such as one-way audio or dropped calls.

ready to switch to voip

4. Sign Up with a Reliable Provider

Next, you’ll need to sign up with a reliable VoIP provider. This involves in-depth research and comparisons between brands to ensure you get the best cloud phone service for your needs and goals.

Review each provider’s:

  • Pricing plans and models, including annual, monthly, pay-as-you-go, per-minute, per-user, and per-line billing
  • Free trial or demo offerings
  • Setup, activation, or other hidden fees
  • Activation times
  • Available services, features, and add-ons
  • VoIP requirements
  • Compatibility with existing equipment and third-party applications
  • Country coverage
  • Distributed data centers and Points of Presence (POPs)
  • Service Level Agreements (SLA) and Terms of Use
  • Network reliability and uptime guarantee
  • Crisis management initiatives and disaster recovery plans
  • VoIP security, encryption protocols, and service monitoring practices
  • Contract requirements
  • Customer and technical support services
  • Telecom and industry experience
  • Case studies and customer reviews

It will take some time to collect and compare this information. But, this is arguably the most important step when making the switch to VoIP. And that’s because your provider contributes to the quality, security, and reliability of your phone service.

Look for providers that will work with you to craft the best solution for your business and are quick to handle any issues that arise.

5. Select VoIP Equipment

The VoIP equipment you select will vary depending on your existing infrastructure and chosen deployment method.

If you plan on modernizing your legacy phones, you’ll need:

  • VoIP gateways or adapters for each device
  • Ethernet cables to connect the gateways to your router or switch

If you want to replace your traditional desk phones with VoIP-compatible ones, you’ll need:

  • IP phones (There are many options on the market from IP conference phones to wireless IP devices; Pick the one that fits your budget and communication needs).
  • Ethernet cables for internet connection

If you prefer to use other equipment like computers, you’ll need:

  • Softphone feature
  • IP-enabled devices such as smartphones, tablets, laptops, computers, etc.

Other optional equipment includes:

  • VoIP headsets
  • Microphones

The great thing about VoIP is that you don’t need a ton of equipment. All you need to get started is a stable internet connection, IP-enabled device, and a VoIP service with the softphone feature. So, the equipment and hardware you select really depend on your communication needs and preferences.

Related: How to Optimize Your VoIP Network?

6. Train Your Teams

Whenever you introduce new hardware, software, methods, and so on into the workplace, provide employee training and give your teams time to adjust.

Walk your staff through features and provide them with resource materials. Make sure to start training before you fully switch to VoIP, so employees are ready to go when you migrate. You might consider creating a process flow diagram that outlines all the steps involved in using the new VoIP system. This diagram can serve as a visual guide for your employees, helping them understand how to navigate the system and troubleshoot common issues effectively.

In most cases, VoIP services are simple and intuitive. This means a smooth onboarding experience for you and your teams.

7. Install and Configure VoIP

Now, it’s time to set up your VoIP system. This is another step that varies depending on your provider, existing hardware, and deployment method.

First, plug in and connect all your equipment, if you haven’t already done so. Then, log in to your provider’s control panel to add users and set up your desired features. If your provider offers a suite of features, prioritize configuring the ones you identified as essential.

If you still aren’t sure which features to set up, here are some suggestions to get you started:

  • Customized Greetings – establish a professional and welcoming brand voice.
  • IVR & Call Flow Designer – help guide callers to their desired destination.
  • Call Routing – send calls to an alternate destination based on date, time, location, etc.
  • Failover Forwarding – maintain business continuity by sending unanswered calls to a backup location.
  • Call Recording – record calls for training, liability assurance, or liability purposes.
  • Voicemail Messages & Voicemail to Email – personalize voicemail prompt and conveniently forward messages to your email.

Once you’ve added users and configured your chosen communication features, your VoIP system is officially operational.

Ready to Make the Switch?

United World Telecom can help you make the switch to VoIP and take your business communications to the next level. To learn more about business VoIP or upgrade your current phone system, call or chat with our telecom experts today at +1 (561) 908-6171!

How to Optimize Your VoIP Network?

Phone calls continue to be customers’ preferred communication channel for support and service because it is the fastest and most effective. However, if your phone system is not set up properly, you can run into issues that inhibit your ability to provide uninterrupted, reliable customer service.

In this post, we’ll go over the different ways to optimize your VoIP network so you can get started today!

Improve VoIP Connectivity

Setting up your VoIP system means preparing your network and IT infrastructure to support your provider’s service. While the below tips are recommended to implement as you set up, you can also use them to troubleshoot VoIP issues. You can improve connectivity and optimize your VoIP network in the following ways:

  1. Adhere to VoIP Network Requirements
  2. Contact Your VoIP Provider
  3. Run VoIP Connectivity and Speed Tests
  4. Identify VoIP Issues
  5. Increase Bandwidth
  6. Invest in Quality Hardware
  7. Consider Creating a VLAN

When to Optimize Your Phone Network

When your VoIP network isn’t well-optimized, it can lead to reliability and quality issues. And as a business communicating with clients, these issues can interrupt business continuity and make your business appear less reliable and trustworthy.

Common VoIP call quality issues include:

  • Latency
  • Jitter
  • Packet loss
  • Dropped calls
  • Inability to make calls from a device
  • Echoes
  • Broken or muffled audio
  • No audio or one-way audio
  • Phone not ringing on incoming calls, and so on.

And often, these issues originate from your internet and network setup. This is why it’s important to understand what network requirements your VoIP service needs.

For specific fixes for these problems, check out our VoIP troubleshooting guide.

Steps to Optimize Your VoIP Network

Now, when it comes to improving and optimizing your VoIP network, you have multiple options. The key is to identify the problem and then find the best solution. In some cases, your VoIP provider can help. And in other cases, you’ll need to rectify the problem yourself.

So, really, you can start by contacting your provider or running tests on your own. Let’s go over how you can optimize your VoIP network and different factors to keep in mind:

Related: How to Achieve the Best VoIP Call Quality for Your Business?

1. Adhere to VoIP Network Requirements

To properly set up a VoIP phone system, you must pay attention to network requirements that enable VoIP to function effectively. This includes:

A good way to optimize your VoIP network is to ensure you’ve done the above-mentioned best practices. These will create a healthy environment for your VoIP phone system.

We’ll talk about some of these in more detail below. Additionally, we put together a comprehensive guide to VoIP network requirements to help you get started.

2. Contact Your VoIP Provider

For a quick resolution — especially if you don’t have in-house network or voice engineers — it may help to first contact your provider. Since they know the network requirements needed to run VoIP properly, they can let you know how your current setup is failing.

They can also provide additional testing and monitoring services to identify the problem and offer solutions accordingly. They should already be monitoring your service, so it is easier for them to determine what is causing the issue.

If you want to exhaust all your self-service options before calling your provider, try the suggestions listed below.

3. Run VoIP Connectivity and Speed Tests

To remedy potential issues and optimize your VoIP network, you first need to know what’s wrong. The quickest way to determine a problem is by running speed and internet connectivity tests on your network. VoIP tests measure the speed, jitter, and latency of your internet connection. Similarly, you can even use a ping test to assess where exactly is the delay or issue occurring within your network or phone system.

Now, some VoIP providers offer their own tools that you can use. But others will direct you to different tools that they trust. Check with your provider about what they recommend or look online for internet, ping, and VoIP tests.

4. Identify VoIP Issues

After you run these tests, you’ll get scores for latency, jitter, packet loss, upload speed, and download speed. This will give you a clear idea of how your network is performing. If any of these scores are outside the acceptable range, you will experience issues with call quality.

Another way to identify VoIP issues is by manually monitoring call quality for jitter, delays, audio issues, etc. You can use MOS scores to get user opinions of a call’s quality – something like this:

MOS Quality Issue
5 Excellent Perfect quality
4 Good Less perfect; may include some loss of quality
3 Fair Slightly strained quality
2 Poor Strained quality
1 Bad Heavily strained quality

Then, you can go back and investigate each call using call detail records, activity reports, and alerts. And you can make this process more effective using a call recording feature, as you can actually listen to the calls with low MOS scores to identify the issue.

Once you determine if the issue is latency, jitter, delays, audio problems, etc., you can fix it. Our VoIP troubleshooting guide (linked above) has different solutions you can implement to resolve these issues.

5. Increase Bandwidth

For voice services and VoIP calls, you need at least 85-100 kbps per call. This number increases when you have additional, concurrent calls. And all of this does not factor in other internet usage and traffic, such as streaming, checking emails, running chat, etc.

Refer to the below table to calculate how much bandwidth you will need for concurrent voice calls:

Number of Concurrent Calls Bandwidth Recommended
1 100 Kbps
5 500 Kbps
10 1 Mbps
15 1.5 Mbps
20 20 Mbps

So, if your business does not have adequate bandwidth, your VoIP network won’t be optimized, and you’ll experience network congestion. As a rule of thumb, try using only 80% of your available bandwidth for all internet-related activities, VoIP calling included. And when you begin to exceed that limit, upgrade your bandwidth.

6. Invest in Quality Hardware

Another way to upgrade your VoIP network is by updating your hardware and equipment. Outdated, legacy equipment may have limited functionality and can degrade over time. Plus, newer software and technologies work better with newer hardware. Consider making the following upgrades if you don’t already have them:

Cabling — Use Cat 5e, Cat 6, or Cat 7 Ethernet cables.

Power — Use a Power over Ethernet (PoE) switch for efficient delivery of data and power to over one wired connection

Infrastructure — Switch to wired connections if currently using WiFi.

Routers — With features like

  • Dual and Tri-Band Frequency — Transmit traffic at 2-3 frequencies, so you can separate VoIP traffic from others.
  • MU-MIMO — Multi-user, multi-input, multi-output that enables each device to have its own data stream connected to the router.
  • WiFi 5 (802.11ac) or WiFi 6 — Higher the wireless, the better.
  • VoIP QoS — Prioritize voice traffic over other traffic.

IP devices — Deskphones, computers, and laptops built to support web calling.

7. Consider Creating a VLAN

Finally, consider adding a VLAN or virtual LAN on top of your existing internal local network. Then, you can put VoIP devices on the VLAN and all other traffic on the LAN. And you can configure the VLAN to give the highest broadcast priority to voice packet transmission by applying QoS settings via VLAN tagging.

VLAN tagging tells which packet belongs to the VLAN specifically and can help separate voice traffic from other traffic passing through your network. Your internal IT team can help you set this up within your infrastructure. However, you can also work with your ISP for professional help.

Optimizing VoIP for Business Communication

VoIP phone systems go a long way to ensure your business can communicate with customers reliably. And this is why many B2B enterprises choose to add IP telephony to their communication stack. But that includes setting it up properly and checking every now and then for potential issues.

We can set you up with a reliable, high-quality VoIP phone system. And our cloud communication experts can help you integrate VoIP into your business infrastructure smoothly. Want to learn more? Call us at +1 (561) 276-7156 or chat with us online!

How to Change VoIP Providers?

Is your existing phone service effectively supporting your communication needs? If not, it may be time to change VoIP providers.

This article will discuss when switching to another service is necessary and how to do it. So, let’s jump in.

Why Change VoIP Providers?

It’s important to note that not all VoIP services are created equal. Some vendors offer users advanced features and better pricing, while others deliver 24/7 global customer support and greater reliability.

Since the market is saturated with many different VoIP products, finding the right one that fits all your needs may be challenging for some. So, what happens if you sign up with a provider that falls short? Or, what if your communication needs change and your existing service no longer supports your goals?

In these cases, you must change your VoIP provider to sustain business growth, optimize your phone system, and maintain effective communication. This way, you get out of a low-quality service and improve the functionality of your network.

Related: What is Hosted VoIP?

7 Signs it’s Time to Switch Services

So, how do you know when to change VoIP providers? Here are 7 reasons to switch your phone service ASAP:

  1. High, recurring monthly bills
  2. Poor voice and call quality
  3. Lack of global country coverage and call management features
  4. Unreliable, unresponsive customer and technical support
  5. Issues with network connectivity and reliability that lead to an increase in dropped calls
  6. Long-term contracts or commitments with minimal value
  7. Growing need for a flexible and scalable phone solution with high uptime

These are all major signs that your current vendor is holding your business back. Not only is the service hindering your business’s ability to grow, but it’s also preventing you from accessing the many benefits of VoIP. This means it is time to move to a new service that can offer you more while charging less.

Change your VoIP provider in 5 easy steps.

How to Change VoIP Providers: 5 Simple Steps

You can switch VoIP providers in the following straightforward steps:

1. Evaluate Current Service

Start by analyzing your current service. What does it do well? What do you wish you could change or add? You can determine your pain points and priorities by evaluating your current service. Make sure to write down your service analysis, as it will come in handy for the provider research phase (more below).

2. Identify Your Communication Needs

Next, you must identify gaps in your system and what you need to improve caller experience. This will not only allow you to quickly narrow down your search but also ensure you get the best service based on your specific needs.

Here are some questions to help you determine your needs:

• Overall Budget – How much are you willing to spend on equipment, features, add-ons, monthly/annual plans, etc.?

• Desired Services & Features – What is the primary use of your current VoIP service? What services and features do you consider “must-have” vs “nice-to-have”? Which ones can you live without?

• Current Setup – What does your current setup look like? Does it meet the minimum VoIP requirements (adequate bandwidth, stable connection, etc.)? Do you have broken or damaged equipment? How do you plan on deploying your new service? Will it be hosted in the cloud or on-premise?

• Number Porting vs New Phone Number – Do you want to keep your existing business phone number by porting it to a new vendor? Or, are you planning on selecting a new one when you change VoIP providers? And if you want a new one, will it be a local, toll-free or international phone number?

• Commitment & Activation Times– Are you currently stuck in a long-term contract? If so, when does it end or do you plan to break it? How fast do you need a new service to activate?

• Call Traffic Logistics – How many lines or users do you need? What is your average number of calls? Do you see this number increasing? And how does your call traffic typically behave (does it fluctuate or is it consistent)?

In addition to the list above, it’s also essential to consider your business goals, particularly expansion plans. This way, you know that your new service can support your future growth.

3. Research and Select a VoIP Provider

To successfully change VoIP providers and improve your system in the process, research a variety of available services. And remember to compare their service offerings to the needs and pain points you identified in the first 2 steps of this process.

On top of that, pay attention to:

  • Pricing models and hidden/setup fees
  • Specific VoIP requirements and equipment compatibility
  • Service activation times
  • Available services, features, and add-ons
  • VoIP uptime guarantee, network reliability, and crisis management initiatives
  • Long-term contract requirements
  • Service Level Agreements (SLA)
  • Customer and technical support offerings
  • Telecommunications and industry experience
  • Case studies and customer reviews

Now, this step may take a while to see through, as it involves in-depth research. But, it is crucial because it helps you find a reliable solution that’s right for your business. And if you’re struggling to pick between a few services, book consultations to get an even better idea of how they can help your business.

ready to switch to voip

4. Notify Your Current Provider

If you plan on getting an entirely new service and phone number, talk with your current vendor about your plans to change VoIP providers. This way, you know if they charge any termination fees and you can determine a service end date.

On the other hand, if you plan to port your current number to a new service, notifying your provider helps you avoid delays, understand next steps, and, again, allows you to set up a service end date.

Whatever route you take, it’s extremely important that you maintain your current phone service until the activation or porting process is complete. This ensures that you maintain contact with your customers and business continuity.

5. Installing your New Service

While porting your number may take an extended period of time, getting an entirely new service may be fully operational the same day you sign up.

In most cases, installing VoIP doesn’t require any additional equipment. But, the specific VoIP setup process depends on your provider, existing infrastructure, deployment method, and what equipment you want to use.

For instance: If you plan on using softphones for business communication, simply download your provider’s softphone to an IP-enabled device. Then, connect it to your service using your login information. However, using your existing hardware, such as IP and legacy phones, requires more setup. This is because they need to be physically connected to your router or a gateway.

Once you’ve configured your hardware and software, make sure to add your desired users and set up advanced features such as:

  • Call routing and forwarding destinations
  • IVR and call flows
  • Voicemail
  • Caller ID management
  • Call recording and so on.

Change VoIP Providers to Improve Efficiency

As you can see, moving to a new provider can make all the difference to the quality and efficiency of your business VoIP system.

United World Telecom offers enterprise-grade VoIP services and phone numbers for businesses worldwide. After 26 years of telecom experience, we’ve established long-term relationships with reliable Tier-1 carriers across the globe. This enables us to deliver high-quality voice services at affordable rates.

And we also provide number porting services if you want to keep your current business phone number. Simply fill out our number porting form to get started.

To learn more, speak with our representatives today over the phone or online! We’re here to help.

VoIP Billing Increments: Understanding How Your Calls are Charged

When you sign up for a hosted VoIP provider, you’ll rely on your monthly invoices to understand usage and calling charges. But these invoices can look confusing if you don’t understand how your provider bills their service.

To help you understand your VoIP bills, we’ve put together this article on VoIP billing increments.

How are VoIP Calls Billed?

Your VoIP calls are billed based on your provider. Each provider has a different pricing model and different types of costs.

Generally speaking, you can expect two costs:

  • Monthly VoIP line fee and
  • Costs for usage (charged in increments)

While the monthly fee is usually obvious when signing up, the cost for usage (billing increments) is more challenging to determine. So, it’s a good idea to ask your new provider how exactly they bill for phone calls occurring over a month.

What are Billing Increments?

Billing increments refer to the unit of time used to charge a particular service, specifically to indicate the minimum and incremental measures of time.

VoIP billing increments refer to the unit used to indicate how a VoIP service is charged and what the customer is billed for.

Most VoIP phone calls incur fees based on a minimum and increment charge set by your carrier. Let’s define these terms:

Billing minimum — the minimum amount of time your provider will charge for each call.
Billing increment — the amount of time your provider will charge you after achieving the minimum time.

Here’s an example of VoIP billing increments with a 12/6 rate:

In this case, your billing minimum is 12 seconds and your billing increment is 6 seconds.

So, after the first 12 seconds, your provider will charge you again after every 6 seconds.

Again, every carrier does this differently, so it’s important to understand how your desired provider will charge you.

Related: Is VoIP Reliable?

Different VoIP Billing Increments and Pricing Models

Each VoIP carrier offers a different pricing model. And some even offer multiple models, so you can choose what works best for your particular situation.

Here are some of the billing increments currently present on the market:

  • 6/6 billing increment — minimum billing 6 seconds and subsequent billing 6 seconds — talk for 8 seconds, pay for 12 seconds
  • 12/6 billing increment — minimum billing 12 seconds and subsequent billing 6 seconds — talk for 14 seconds, pay for 18 seconds
  • 30/6 billing increment — minimum billing 30 seconds and subsequent billing 6 seconds — talk for 34 seconds, pay for 36 seconds
  • 60/60 billing increment — minimum billing 60 seconds and subsequent billing 60 seconds — talk for 62 seconds, pay for 120 seconds

Affordable VoIP Phone Services

United World Telecom offers competitive and cost-effective cloud communication solutions. Learn about how to install VoIP and how we can help your business grow and expand internationally. Call us at 1 (877) 898 8646 or chat with us online!

How to Set Up a VoIP Phone System

Upgrading your business communication system doesn’t have to be time-consuming or full of roadblocks.

In fact, VoIP makes migrating to a modern phone system seamless – especially with the right provider.

In this article, we will discuss how to set up VoIP by breaking down both the preparation and implementation processes.

Why Should Your Business Set Up a VoIP Phone System?

Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) allows your business to make and receive phone calls using an internet connection and packet switching technology. This tech replaces the physical lines of a traditional phone system with digital pathways – making VoIP more efficient than PSTN and landlines.

Benefits of Using VoIP for Business Communication

Other benefits of installing VoIP include:

• Reduced Overhead Costs – Save on international and long-distance calling fees as well as the cost of routine maintenance and equipment upgrades.

• Ability to Scale – Make changes to your system (such as adding or removing users) as you see fit without applying major changes to your network.

• Increased Mobility and Flexibility – Enjoy access from any location or IP-enabled device. This means you can place and receive business calls from smartphones, tablets, computers, and more. And, you can use Voice over IP to connect your widespread and remote teams.

• Access to Advanced Features – Use advanced communication features like call recording, IVR, and routing. These allow you to customize and build a better phone system that increases caller experience.

• Improved Reliability – Access failover functionalities and ensure your system’s reliability – even during power outages or severe weather conditions. Failover options typically come with a VoIP service.

• Manage Communication in One Place – Manage and access your core communication channels like voice, video, text, and more through one centralized platform. You no longer need multiple services to manage your business’ communications.

Getting Started with VoIP

Whether setting up VoIP within a small business or enterprise, you’ll need a few components to get started. It’s worth noting that your setup may look different depending on your existing infrastructure. But to properly power this technology at its most basic level, you’ll need:

  • A strong internet connection and adequate bandwidth (equipment needed: a modem, router, Ethernet cables to connect everything, and an Internet Service Provider (ISP))
  • IP-enabled devices such as desktops, tablets, smartphones, and IP phones
  • Or media gateways to connect legacy phone systems
  • A reliable VoIP provider (more on this later).

Preparing to Set Up VoIP

Before configuring VoIP, you must define your communication needs, assess your existing system, and do your research. While these steps are not mandatory, it helps streamline your transition. Let’s break these steps down further.

Determine Communication Needs

It’s important to start preparing for your VoIP installation by determining your needs. This information should guide you through the decision-making and transition process – ensuring you stay on track to the best solution. And it will make the selection process more efficient since you’ll know exactly what to look for.

So, how do you define your business communication needs? Start by asking yourself:

  1. What are you planning to use VoIP for exactly? Inbound calling? Outbound calling? Or both?
  2. What is the budget? How much are you willing to spend on equipment, a provider, features, and other add-ons?
  3. What features are “must-haves” for your business and teams? And which ones could you live without, but would be nice to have?
  4. Do you have an existing communication infrastructure? If so, are you planning on completely replacing it? Or do you want to modernize your legacy phones by upgrading them with VoIP? And based on these answers, how do you plan on deploying VoIP? (more on this later)
  5. Are you looking to port your existing business phone number, or will you choose a new one? And if you select a new number, will it be a local, toll-free or international phone number?
  6. How many lines or users do you plan on having?
  7. What is your current average number of calls, or how many calls do you expect to receive? And how does call traffic typically behave (does it spike, or is it consistent)?

Defining the full scope of your communication needs helps you find the best service and setup for your business.

Audit Hardware and Satisfy VoIP Requirements

Auditing your hardware means assessing your equipment and IT infrastructure to evaluate its life cycle and current ability to perform its job. These audits help businesses identify outdated or broken equipment, prevent double-purchasing, and determine what equipment still has value. Once you have a good idea of your infrastructure, you can select a VoIP deployment model (see below) and decide if additional hardware purchases are necessary.

During your audit, it’s also worth evaluating your IT infrastructure to ensure it can support the solution you envision. In other words, make sure your system meets the minimum requirements for installing VoIP. This way, you get the best possible call quality and VoIP performance.

Ensure your infrastructure has:

• Adequate Bandwidth for VoIP – Check that you have an adequate amount of bandwidth available to power your devices and services. Your minimum bandwidth speed for one call or SIP channel should generally be 100 kbps.

• Low Latency – VoIP relies on the internet to transmit calls. So, you need a strong and reliable internet connection. Opt for wired Ethernet connections over Wi-Fi, as it increases internet speed, lowers network latency, and offers a more stable connection. And, perform a VoIP speed test to evaluate your network speed and stability.

• Data Prioritization Options – A congested network leads to problems with VoIP errors. Because of this, make sure your router has data prioritization capabilities like Quality of Service (QoS). This capability will allow you to prioritize and optimize your network traffic – ensuring that VoIP calls receive enough bandwidth.

Satisfying these network requirements will set you up for success with most VoIP services, but double-check your selected provider’s specific requirements.

Explore VoIP Deployment Options

Part of the preparation process is research and information gathering. So, let’s review the different options for VoIP deployment. This way, you understand what is available to your business.

• On-premise Solutions

With this deployment model, you install VoIP infrastructure at your business’ physical location. Companies must purchase hardware like servers, switches, and IP phones. And, you’re responsible for routine maintenance, monitoring, and upgrades. As such, you’ll experience higher overhead costs with this setup.

Best For: Large businesses or enterprises, businesses with high communication needs and a large amount of phone lines, companies with infrastructure already in place

• Hosted Solutions

A hosted VoIP solution means your provider installs VoIP equipment and manages the system for you at their locations. So, you receive cloud phone services without the hassle of routine maintenance, system upgrades, or network routing.

Luke Genoyer, Business Development Manager at United World Telecom, says,“It’s much easier to set up VoIP when you’re going through a hosted provider. This is especially true when compared to installing a PRI or POTS system or even wiring together an on-premise PBX.”

Not only does your business save on costs associated with purchasing and maintaining equipment, but you also avoid the hassle of installing complex hardware. And, your business gains greater mobility and flexibility as hosted VoIP solutions are accessible from anywhere.

Best For: Remote and distributed teams, businesses of all sizes, companies looking for affordable communication solutions

• Hybrid Solutions

The hybrid deployment model allows businesses to plug VoIP solutions into their legacy phones via a gateway. So, the VoIP service is hosted while the equipment is on-premise.

Best For: Businesses looking to migrate to VoIP while keeping and upgrading their legacy phones.

Components of a VoIP Phone System.

How to Set Up a VoIP Phone System

After completing the necessary preparations, it’s time to install your VoIP network. Let’s break it down into 4 steps:

  • Choosing a reliable VoIP provider
  • Setting up hardware and software
  • Configuring your phone system
  • Testing your network

1. Research and Choose a VoIP Provider

It’s crucial to analyze multiple VoIP providers and services before selecting one. This research guarantees that you get the best solution for your business. Compare your communication needs with each provider’s offering.

Specifically, look at:

• Pricing & Hidden Fees – Review each provider’s pricing options and compare them with your budget. Be aware of per-user, per-month pricing models, as these tend to be more expensive than a flat monthly price. And double-check if they have any setup or hidden fees.

• VoIP Requirements – Ask about the provider’s specific VoIP requirements. Can your system support their solution as is? Or will you have to modify your current infrastructure to run the service?

• Activation Times – Consider how long it will take to get your service setup and if it meets your timeframe requirements.

• Available Features – Compare the provider’s range of available features with your list of must-have and nice-to-have features.

• Uptime & Network Reliability – Assess each provider’s network reliability. Start by looking at their uptime guarantee and crisis management initiatives. And take into account how many Points of Presence (PoPs) they have to fall back on in case of service disruptions.

Customer Support – Pay attention to their customer support offerings. Does the provider offer support in your time zone, region, and desired language? And does your account come with a dedicated account manager?

While this step requires quite a bit of research, it’s worth it in the long run as you’ll end up with a trusted provider and solutions that fit your specific needs. Take your time with this step. With the right provider, you can successfully install VoIP and maintain your system with minimal roadblocks.

2. Set Up VoIP Hardware and Software

Once you’ve activated your service, you’re ready to set up your equipment and install the VoIP system. The specific setup of your system depends on your provider, existing infrastructure, how you plan on deploying VoIP, and what equipment you want to use.

If you plan on using softphones to make and receive business calls, the setup process is quick and easy. Simply download your provider’s softphone to your desired IP-enabled device. Then, connect it to your phone service using your login information.

You can also purchase hard phones, also known as IP phones, that connect directly to your VoIP server. While these phones look like regular deskphones, they have Ethernet ports instead of phone jacks. To set this hardware up, connect the IP phone to your router via an Ethernet cable. Then, assign the device to the appropriate user or extension.

For those planning on upgrading legacy phones with VoIP, you’ll need to purchase a gateway. This bridges the gap between the PSTN and digital networks. Start by connecting your legacy phone to the gateway using the phone jack, also known as a register jack-11 (RJ11). Then, connect the gateway to the internet using an Ethernet cable.

For additional equipment like headsets and microphones, simply plug these directly into your computer, phone, or device. Or connect them via Bluetooth if they are wireless.

3. Configure Business Phone System

After setting up your equipment, start adding your users and configure your desired communication features. Which features you choose and how you go about configuring them depends on your business communication needs. But if you defined them earlier, you’ll know exactly which feature you need to configure.

Consider the following:

  • Create call flows and set up an IVR to handle incoming calls and guide callers through your system – ensuring they end up at the appropriate destination.
  • Implement different routing strategies for after-hours calls, holidays, 24/7 global support options, or to match the caller with their preferred time zone and language.
  • Incorporate failover strategies such as failover forwarding to guarantee all calls get answered, even if the first location doesn’t pick up. This is also great for disaster recovery, as it redirects calls to an available destination.
  • Equip call recording on all or a fraction of your calls for training, quality assurance, or liability purposes.
  • Establish ring groups to effectively manage call volumes and reduce wait times for callers.

4. Test Your New VoIP Network

At this point, you’ve fully installed VoIP, and it’s almost ready to use. But before you start making and receiving business calls, test your system and lines for issues.

When testing, pay attention to:

  • Audio quality
  • Latency or delays
  • Dropped calls
  • No audio or one-way audio
  • Connection reliability
  • Network speed
  • And make sure any features you’ve configured operate how you want them to.

Gregory Porras, Senior VoIP Engineer at United World Telecom, explains that VoIP issues can occur for any number of reasons, which is why it’s important to test your system before going live. He suggests testing your system from your internal, external, Wi-Fi, and VPN networks. Greg adds that call quality should be a top priority – so he recommends double-checking your router’s firewall, QoS, and SIP ALG settings. And, open ports on your router to your provider’s recommended settings.

If all else fails, work with your provider to troubleshoot the problem.

Make the Most of Your VoIP Network

While setting up VoIP may seem daunting and complex to some, it is possible to do on your own. Simply follow the steps above and start using your new VoIP phone system.

And with the right provider, you’ll be able to tackle any issues you run into along the way. United World Telecom offers dedicated account managers and 24/7 global support to all users. While some providers charge a “professional services” fee to help with implementation and training for employees, we include it for free with any of our business plans.

Speak with our telecom experts to understand how we can help you set up a VoIP phone system for your business. Call us at 1 (877) 898 8646!

What is Hosted VoIP?

Are you looking for a phone system that offers affordability, flexibility, modern capabilities, and so on. Or perhaps you’re planning on modernizing your current communication setup.

Either way, the solution is simple – hosted VoIP.

In this article, we’ll define hosted VoIP, how it works, its benefits, key business features, and use cases.

Understanding Hosted VoIP and How it Works

Before delving into hosted VoIP, you must first understand VoIP on its own. Voice over internet protocol (VoIP) digitally transmits voice calls over an IP network. This allows you to make and receive business calls through the internet.

To accomplish this, it uses packet switching technology, which converts your voice data into digital packets. These packets are then sent to the receiver via the internet. And once they arrive at the destination, the packets reassemble into voice. This process occurs in a matter of seconds and allows callers to communicate seamlessly.

Now, this brings us to hosted VoIP. There are two general ways to deploy VoIP: hosted or on-premise.

With hosted VoIP, a third-party provider “hosts” and manages the infrastructure on their premises. They then supply cloud communication services to your business through a network connection.

This deployment model allows you to access hosted VoIP services from any IP-enabled device or location. Additionally, this setup is far more affordable than on-premise solutions. This is because you don’t have to worry about routine maintenance, monitoring, and upgrades.

With an on-premise model, your business owns and manages all VoIP infrastructure. In other words, the equipment typically resides on-site. While this option offers full control, it is expensive to set up and maintain as it requires plenty of free space, energy, monitoring, and upkeep.

How Can Your Business Benefit from VoIP?

Many companies choose VoIP as their business phone solution because of its many advantages and capabilities. Here’s how your business can benefit from hosted VoIP services:

• Substantial cost-savings – Save on additional equipment and routine maintenance while avoiding costly international and long-distance calling fees.

• Increased flexibility and mobility – Accessible from any location or device, providing more mobility than traditional deskphones.

• Highly scalable – Upgrade or downgrade your service when needed without changing your entire system.

• Enhanced call quality – Experience clearer sound and better call quality, since VoIP calls travel faster than over traditional phone lines.

• Easy configuration – Integrate it within your existing system, as no additional equipment is required.

• Improved functionality – Enhance your business phone system’s functionality with features only accessible through the cloud.

An image showing the ways a business can benefit from using hosted VoIP.

Hosted VoIP Key Features

As mentioned above, many VoIP providers offer users a number of advanced cloud features with their services. This way, you can effectively manage and improve your business’ communication. Let’s take a look at the top hosted VoIP features:

  • Phone numbers (local, international toll-free, etc.)
  • Call recording
  • Caller ID management
  • Advanced IVR
  • Call flow designers
  • Call routing and forwarding
  • Failover capabilities
  • Softphones or mobile apps
  • Voicemail to email
  • Call detail records and analytics
  • Integrations / APIs

4 VoIP Use Cases

With a clear picture of hosted VoIP and its capabilities, let’s discuss how companies can use this technology to grow their business.

1. Expand Globally

IP telephony is not tied to a specific location. So, you can use it to expand globally, enter new markets, and access a broader customer base. The best part? You can do this without opening a physical location or increasing overhead costs. Simply set up cloud phone numbers in your desired countries or markets. Then, forward incoming calls to your business headquarters.

2. Improve Network Reliability

With access to hosted VoIP’s failover strategies, you can build your network’s redundancy by minimizing downtime and preparing for potential outages. So if your system experiences an interruption, calls are automatically rerouted to an alternate, predetermined location.

3. Offer 24/7 Global Support

Cloud communication services are typically fully customizable to your business’ unique needs. This includes predetermining routing rules and features like time-based or location-based routing. You can use them to offer customers 24/7 global support, increasing customer satisfaction and accessibility.

4. Connect Distributed Teams

You can manage hosted VoIP services in one centralized location and from any location or device. This means teams can communicate via smartphones, computers, tablets, and desk phones. These capabilities make it the perfect solution for connecting local and distributed teams.

ready to switch to voip

Get Started with Hosted VoIP

As you can see, hosted VoIP helps keep costs down, improve business communications, enhance call quality, and much more. All you need to get started:

  • a stable internet connection with adequate bandwidth,
  • an IP-enabled device or media gateways,
  • and a reliable provider.

United World Telecom provides enterprise-grade VoIP phone services for businesses around the world. After 26 years of telecom experience, we’ve established long-term relationships with reliable Tier-1 carriers across the globe. This enables us to deliver users with high-quality voice services.

Reach out to learn more about our reliable service and if we are the right VoIP provider for you. Speak with our dedicated telecom experts at +1 (561) 276-7156 or chat with us online today!