Your browser does not support JavaScript!
Are you working remotely and need options to stay connected? We are here to help. [ Learn More ]

Understanding Voice Over IP Jitter, Latency, and Packet Loss

The key to good VoIP call quality depends on a few factors such as jitter, latency, and packet loss. We discuss these elements below so you can ensure your business has strong and reliable VoIP quality for customer calls.

Understanding VoIP Call Quality: The Basics

Voice over IP or VoIP calls occur over the internet by transmitting voice or data packets from one user to their destination. On VoIP calls, your voice is transformed from analog to digital signals in data packets and is sent to your destination. Upon arrival, these packets are converted back to analog and the audio is heard. Data packets generally contain about 20 milliseconds of audio and this whole process occurs at lightning speed.

And while this process seems simple and straightforward, there are a few factors that can affect the quality of the call, interrupting it. Voice over IP call quality depends on keeping the following elements to a minimum:

  • Jitter
  • Latency
  • Packet loss

Let’s look at these issues more closely and ways to troubleshoot them.

Voice Over IP Jitter

For a VoIP or SIP call to take place successfully, data packets must be transmitted from one user to their destination. And these data packets travel through different paths before they reach the destination. As such, all data packets may not take the same path or time to arrive.

VoIP jitter refers to the data packets being delivered to the destination at irregular intervals instead of being delivered at the same time. In other words, one packet is delivered after the rest of the packet. This can lead to low VoIP call quality with missing or jumbled audio.

How to fix this issue?

Generally speaking, 30 milliseconds (or less) jitter is acceptable. However, more than that can lead to serious call quality issues, affecting your calls and customer care efforts. And so, to fix jitter issues, you must first check your network and ensure you have a good internet connection.

Another way to fix jitter issues is by using a jitter buffer. This is a space where packets are collected and stored. Then, they are sent out at regular intervals ensuring they move in the right order.

VoIP Latency

Voice over IP latency refers to lag or delay within the call. More specifically, it’s the delayed time between a caller speaking and the receiver hearing the audio. This lag or delay can lead to speakers talking over each other or echoes in the middle of the call.

It is also important to note that international calls may experience more latency than domestic or local calls. And while it is not desirable, users generally tend to accept latency in long-distance calls more than local ones.

How to fix this issue?

Latency does not necessarily affect VoIP call quality. However, it does make the caller experience less desirable, giving way to frustration and miscommunication.

Most of the time, latency is a result of network congestion, which also contributes to jitter. To combat this, you should prioritize voice over IP data ahead of other data transmitted across your network. And a high-quality VoIP router can help with this as well as other issues that may crop up within a VoIP phone system.

Voice Over IP Packet Loss

Understanding packet loss is pretty straightforward. It refers to data packets lost during transmission from one user to their destination. Packet loss occurs when:

  • Data packets are lost and never arrive at the destination
  • Packets arrive late and are discarded as a result
  • Packets contain errors and are discarded
  • High data packet loss which results in low VoIP call quality or missing pieces of audio.

When data packets go missing, communication between two parties is incomplete or unclear. Troubleshooting this issue is similar to fixing jitter and latency: check your network. Congested networks where multiple and large files are downloaded or uploaded or transferred can lead to packet loss. Therefore, to ensure low to no packet loss:

  1. Make sure you have enough bandwidth.
  2. Minimize network congestion (don’t stream videos or download music or send large email attachments).

Get a Reliable VoIP Provider

To ensure you do not suffer through these issues, it is important to find a VoIP number provider that can handle your voice over IP traffic. Learn more about our VoIP service by speaking with one of our experts today. Call us at 1 (877) 898 8646 or chat with us online for more information!

Why VoIP is a Good Fit for Distributed Teams

Source: DepositPhotos.com - Lic#44591887 ID#27446420

Need a business communication solution for distributed teams and remote working? Voice over IP or a VoIP phone system can be a great fit for your distributed teams. It can help to ensure your teams stay connected and productive even when they work remotely.

4 Ways VoIP Can Benefit Your Distributed Teams

A VoIP phone system ensures business connectivity over the internet, enabling users to connect from any location and any device. This makes it a good fit for distributed teams and remote workers. Read on for the top 4 benefits of using VoIP to manage remote groups.

1. Employees Can Work from Any Location

Whether your area is hit by a pandemic or you plan on hiring employees from different states and countries, the best part about having VoIP for business is that your employees can stay connected and continue working from wherever they are. All they need is to connect to your VoIP system through a reliable internet connection. Then, they can place and answer important business calls, make sales calls, and offer customer support uninterrupted.

2. Remain Accessible through Multiple Devices

Secondly, employees are not limited to the phones within an office. Employees in distributed teams can work through any device — VoIP phones, computers, laptops, smartphones, tablets, etc. This ensures that they remain accessible even when they are not in the office or if a device fails.

3. Implement a BYOD Policy

Bring your own device or BYOD work policies are growing more and more popular. These policies make it possible for employees to use their own devices instead of devices issued by the company. This means that employees can use devices that are suitable, familiar, and comfortable to use. Additionally, they do not need to learn how to use a new device and can use their own apps that help with productivity. It also helps businesses reduce equipment costs as they do not need to provide employees with phones, computers, laptops, etc., to get their work done. All in all, a BYOD policy can be a win-win situation for both employees and employers.

4. Reduce Communication-Related Costs

With all of the above taken into account, you’ll notice that VoIP can help your business reduce communication costs. For one, you will have a predictable bill each month. Two, you don’t have to worry about equipment or maintenance costs. And that also means you do not have to bother with IT costs. When businesses employ remote workers, having the ability to maintain communication without needing to purchase additional equipment or services can really help keep expenses to a minimum.

How to Set Up VoIP for Remote Teams

Setting up VoIP for distributed teams is quick and easy. Once you have the service, you will need to map out how you want your teams to use the service and its benefits. Here are some key points to keep in mind:

1. Map Out Your Phone System

The first step to setting up a VoIP phone system for your remote workers is to determine how you’ll want calls to be handled. For instance, how many numbers will you be using, and for which departments? Map out how calls will move through the system and how calls will be forwarded or routed. Determine your forwarding needs and settings. For example, you can forward calls to different people at different times of the day or simultaneously to every worker, and so on.

2. Decide What Features to Use

Next, you need to decide how you want to use the features that come with your VoIP service. For instance, you should set up a custom greeting and voicemail message. You will also want to design an IVR with menu options for callers to navigate through. You can play around with other features to see which ones work best for you and your teams.

3. Equip Your Agents

Next, prepare your remote team and equip them to handle business calls. Here too you can use VoIP features to ensure your agents have what they need to do their job effectively. You may even consider creating a support portal or knowledge base that walks them through common issues, troubleshooting help, and so on. Lastly, train them to use the service as well as to be effective agents and salespeople. Once all of this is done, it’s time to start working!

4. Access In-Network Calling for Team Collaboration

VoIP allows for in-network calling which is essential to remote team collaboration and manager-employee interaction. This is especially true for distributed teams and remote workers. Calling someone from your team should be without hurdles and interruptions. And in-network calling makes team communication easy.

5. Make Outgoing Calls from Own Devices with Business Numbers

An outbound calling service from your VoIP provider means that users can make outgoing calls from any device while still displaying a dynamic caller ID. And so, receivers of these calls see your business number even if a remote worker is calling from their laptop. This keeps business calls and remote working professional.

6. Measure Results with Call Records

Lastly, measure results and important KPIs to see how your teams are doing on a regular basis. And you can do this through studying call detail records and call activity. Watch for top KPIs such as first call resolution, average time in queue, average handle time, response time, and so on.

Think VoIP is a Good Fit for Your Remote Teams?

Get a VoIP phone system with United World Telecom and improve distributed teams’ business communication. Give your remote workers the tools they need to work effectively and produce the desired results. For more information, call us today or chat with our experts!

What Is VoIP Integration and How Can it Empower Your Business?

Source: DepositPhotos.com - Lic#52890987 ID#27446420

VoIP integrations enable businesses to enhance their phone system. These types of voice over IP integrations help teams offer a better customer experience and improve workplace productivity.

What Is a VoIP Integration?

Voice over IP enables users to make and receive business calls from any location and through any device. This means your team can make calls from their computer or laptop while in the office or working remotely. All that is required is a stable internet connection. VoIP stores and transmits data securely in the cloud making it easy, safe, and convenient to use.

But the best part about VoIP is that it integrates comfortably with cloud-based applications and software. This is a great advantage over plain old telephone service. VoIP integrations let users switch between tools to store, share, and sync data between them. Doing so can cut down on time spent doing mundane, manual processes while keeping all your important data easily available.

7 Types of VoIP Integrations

There are a variety of VoIP integrations that can work well with your business phone system. However, which VoIP integration will boost your office’s productivity depends on what you are trying to achieve. Here are 7 types of integrations to consider:

1. Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
Most CRMs available still depend on users manually and individually entering information that can help ease the calling process. CRMs are mostly used to track customer contacts and their history with the company, track calls, SMS, faxes, emails, and so on. Having a VoIP integration that allows communication-related details to automatically sync within your CRM can prove useful by reducing the time users would spend entering this information manually. This saves time to be spent on much more important tasks.

2. Cloud Storage
VoIP providers offer cloud storage integrations to help you securely store data for long periods. However, storage capacity and duration vary from provider to provider. This is where a cloud storage integration can be useful. These integrations can help your phone system store and back up files, data, or call recordings on the cloud where they are easily accessible for longer periods of time.

3. Click-to-Call
A click-to-call or click-to-dial tool is generally a website widget that works with most web browsers. This tool gives your team the ability to quickly call any number they find online when browsing. All they do is click the number they wish to call and the call is placed through their VoIP device or softphone. Such a tool makes it possible to place calls when browsing with a single click.

4. Contact Lists
Part of running a business that focuses on demand generation, lead tracking and customer support is being able to quickly find updated contact information and connecting with your customers efficiently. However, this can be overwhelming when your teams are constantly dealing with a large number of leads and contacts. If contacts are not located in one place with up-to-date information, errors can be made. Here is where a contact list integration comes in handy. This VoIP integration synchronizes your contacts across different platforms keeping information up-to-date and relevant and leading to faster customer service times.

5. Voicemail Transcription
A voicemail transcription or voicemail-to-email integration sends the voicemail to users’ emails in text format. This is useful when listening to the message or if hearing through an accent is difficult. Furthermore, a written log of voicemails can serve as good documentation if ever needed.

6. SMS & Fax
Similar to voicemail transcription, an SMS-to-email and fax-to-email integration can also send text messages and faxes to recipients (your employees) as emails. This way, instant messages and fax documents can be stored in the cloud, along with other important data. And when necessary, they can be downloaded, shared, analyzed, and more to improve business communication.

7. Call Reporting
Lastly, a reporting integration gives you access to call reports and detailed records for calls, texts, faxes, etc. Collecting, studying, and analyzing this information can give you insights into customer behavior, preferences, and trends that help you find new and better ways to appeal to your customers and increase customer satisfaction.

9 Benefits of VoIP Integrations for Business

Any company that works with a VoIP integration or UCaaS will tell you that there are countless benefits of integration with their business phone system. Some top benefits of VoIP integrations include:

  1. Allowing users to multitask.
  2. Syncing data across all applications, making it easy to find necessary data.
  3. Streamlining communications by unifying essential tools.
  4. Supporting remote working for distributed teams.
  5. Able to support a call center-type business.
  6. Easy set-up and management.
  7. Reducing monthly communication-related bills.
  8. Ability to scale as needed.
  9. Increasing office productivity and efficiency by streamlining workflows.

Use VoIP to Empower Your Business

VoIP is an advanced communication service that can empower your employees by equipping them with the tools needed to perform efficiently. Think VoIP integrations can support your business needs? Speak with our experts to learn more today!

How to Measure and Improve VoIP Call Quality

Source: DepositPhotos.com - Lic#49280267 ID#27446420

A well-functioning business VoIP system ensures that your business stays connected with customers and clients, no matter where you are located. But an important part of using VoIP numbers or a VoIP phone system is to make sure your call quality is efficient and not compromised. In this post, we will look at how to measure and improve VoIP call quality.

What Are the Most Common Issues With VoIP Call Quality?

Before we delve into how to measure your VoIP call quality, it is imperative to first understand what are the causes of poor VoIP quality. There are a few different factors affecting the quality of your voice over IP system. Fortunately, these VoIP issues are easy to fix.

So, what are the major causes of poor VoIP quality?

1. Latency

Latency refers to lag or delay that occurs between a speaker and receiver. In other words, there is a delay between the time the speaker says something and the receiver hears it. This results in echoes or speakers speaking over each other. While latency doesn’t affect the VoIP call quality, it does make it difficult to communicate effectively, leading to frustration and confusion.

2. Jitter

Jitter occurs when a data packet is delivered later than the rest of the packet. VoIP and SIP calls occur through the transmission of data packets from one user to the next. A data packet can take various paths through the interweb to reach its destination. Furthermore, all the packets may not take the same path which can lead to one or two packets arriving later than the rest. High levels of network jitter can result in bad VoIP call quality and missing or jumbled audio.

3. Packet loss

Packet loss refers to the loss of data packets during transmission. There are a few different types of packet loss:

  • Completely lost and never reaches the destination
  • Arrived late, therefore discarded
  • Contain errors, therefore discarded
  • High packet loss leads to bad call quality as pieces or chunks of audio are missed or are hard to decipher.

4. Poor internet connection

Since VoIP calls occur over the internet, having a strong internet connection is essential to the proper functioning of your business phone system. If your ISP is optimized merely for surfing the internet and uploading or downloading files, then you won’t have even bandwidth for speedy VoIP connections and transmission of data packets. You can use online speed testing tools to get a good understanding of your internet capabilities such as:’

  • Upload speeds
  • Download speeds
  • Jitter times, etc.

How is VoIP Quality Measured?

The Mean Opinion Score (MOS) is the leading tool to measure VoIP call quality. MOS measures subjective call quality and its scores range from 1 (bad VoIP quality) to 5 (excellent VoIP quality).

Some standards and metrics to consider when measuring VoIP include:

  • The ITU standards P.861 (PSQM) and P.862 that state how MOS scores should be calculated.
  • The ITU standard P.563 that calculates call quality passively and includes an R factor to estimate a MOS score.
  • PESQ and PAMS methods that need a license from Psytechnics.
  • Cisco IOS that has built-in tools to measure metrics and estimate MOS during test calls.

How Do I Test VoIP Quality?

In order to test VoIP call quality, you will have to monitor network latency, jitter, and packet loss. VoIP quality tests will enable close monitoring of calls. Call details, activity reports, and alerts can help you identify areas that need improvement or solutions.

What is a Good MOS Score?

MOS measures VoIP quality by assessing the user’s opinion of the call’s quality to score it. On a scale of 1 (bad) to 5 (excellent), a good score for VoIP calls falls between 3.5-4.2 range. This is what a MOS chart looks like:

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

7 Ways to Improve VoIP Call Quality

So, how can you improve VoIP quality, and what are some helpful troubleshooting methods? Here is a list of 7 ways to fix your VoIP call quality:

1. Check your internet speed

The first step to ensuring high VoIP call quality is choosing the right internet service provider. Make sure you have enough bandwidth for VoIP calls and regularly test your internet speed using online testing tools.

2. Check network & equipment configuration

One of the top troubleshooting methods is to check if your network and equipment are properly configured. A network that is not properly configured can negatively affect call quality. This is especially true if you are transmitting voice and data.

3. De-jitter your VoIP

Jitter is often a result of network congestion, packet lags, configuration issues, etc. The best way to combat jitter is to invest in a de-jitter buffer such as a router or Edge device that receives a Real-Time Protocol (RTP).

4. Check your cabling

Most of the current cabling for phone communication and data transmission is a CAT 5 or higher. Ensure your phone system has the right wiring and cabling for its purpose.

5. Choose good handsets

Another quick and easy troubleshooting method is to get new and improved headsets. Low-quality headsets can easily hinder call quality and make simple communication difficult and unclear. Get good headsets for your employees so they have the best tools to work with.

6. Avoid hubs on your local access network (LAN)

A LAN with multiple hubs can result in low call quality. The recommendation is that each phone is individually connecting to the switch.

7. Determine whether “crackling” is because of faulty wiring or hardware problems

Lastly, if you are experiencing “crackling,” it is important to identify where it is coming from so you can fix it appropriately. Are all lines experiencing crackling? Are cords not properly or tightly plugged in? And so on.

Improve VoIP Quality and Enhance Business Communication

One of the top reasons why businesses are switching to Voice Over IP is because issues related to these phone systems are easy to identify and fix. Ready to switch to VoIP for business? Call us today to find out how our VoIP systems can benefit your business!

The Ultimate Guide to Voice Over IP Security & Encryption

Source: DepositPhotos.com - Lic#70911643 ID#27446420

Voice over IP security is something you must pay close attention to. In this detailed guide, we will cover everything that you need to know about voice over IP security and encryption.

Are VoIP Calls Secure?

While voice over IP is fairly secure, there is still a possibility that hackers may target and compromise your VoIP system. To avoid such security breaches, VoIP security should be taken seriously and steps must be taken to ensure a secure VoIP phone system.

The 6 Most Common Vulnerabilities of Your Voice Over IP System

In order to best secure your VoIP numbers against hackers, you must be aware of the different VoIP security vulnerabilities and types of attacks possible. Here are the top Voice over IP security vulnerabilities to be aware of:

1. Default security settings
VoIP credentials need to be configured accurately. Your web phone is essentially a smartphone that has computer-like capabilities. Instead of using default settings and passwords, users should configure secure credentials to avoid vulnerabilities.

2. Using VoIP over WiFi
Using shared WiFi or networks can often cause security breaches. And since VoIP systems need an internet source — mostly WiFi — to work effectively, there is a chance of the security being compromised when using a public or shared WiFi connection instead of a secure office connection.

3. Attacks on the network
Similar to the WiFi being hacked, one’s user network can also be disrupted and breached. There are various types of network attacks. Attacks on one’s business phone network can directly impact their VoIP security.

4. Remote eavesdropping
In most cases, when your system is vulnerable or attacked, hackers have the ability to eavesdrop on confidential and private information. This information can then be used against your company, either via blackmail or by selling it to the competition.

5. Viruses infecting the system
The internet can be easily invaded by viruses and malware. Any internet application and device associated with it is therefore prone to viruses and security breaches. And since VoIP uses the internet, it too remains vulnerable to such attacks.

6. VoIP phishing
Phishing, also referred to as vishing, is a concept similar to catfishing. With VoIP phishing, when a call is made, the caller pretends to be from a credible organization and inquires about private or sensitive information. These callers often perform VoIP phishing by gaining information about you and your company which makes them appear as legitimate and credible. This creates a false sense of security which may result in sensitive information being shared.

How to Recognize a VoIP Attack

So, how do you know if your VoIP phone system has been attacked? Here are a few key indicators of a VoIP security breach:

1. Huge monthly bills
Has your monthly VoIP bill increased dramatically and unexpectedly? If so, there’s a good chance that your VoIP system has been attacked. Hackers are able to make a call’s IP similar to one recognized by your system. This allows them to use your VoIP infrastructure to make multiple calls without being charged.

2. Suspicious call history
Similar to the above issue, if your call history is irregular and doesn’t fit the number of calls your business is making, it is likely that a hacker is using your system to make calls. To combat this, keep tabs on your call history, check it regularly, and make note of unrecognized call patterns and disparities.

3. Redirected internet searches
If a search through your VoIP system has been redirected to an unknown or unwanted page or website, then it is a sign of your internet system being hacked. Always remember to log out of the system when users are done.

Is Voice Over IP More Secure Than PSTN?

VoIP can be more secure than PSTN depending on the measures your business and your VoIP provider take to protect it. This leads us to the next section that details various methods to increase VoIP security for your business phone system.

Are VoIP Calls Secure?

How to Protect Your VoIP System

There are various strategies that businesses can implement to have a secure VoIP system. Encrypting voice traffic and running regular security checks are the best ways to protect your VoIP calls. Let’s look at the top best practices for voice over IP security:

12 Best Practices to Secure Your VoIP System

1. Encrypt voice traffic
Voice encryption is of utmost importance. Encrypt voice traffic and other traffic that moves through your VoIP system using encryption techniques.

2. Encrypt WiFi
Besides encrypting your voice traffic, you should also encrypt your WiFi providing it with maximum security from breaches.

3. Use a VPN
A virtual private network or VPN adds an additional layer of security. A VPN protects calls occurring over mobile or wireless networks and is a good solution to keep your system secure for on-site as well as off-site workers.

4. Strong passwords
This goes without saying. Make an effort to understand your security system, change default security settings, use strong passwords, and change passwords regularly.

5. Run regular security checks
Conduct regular security checks to test your system and see how it responds and how your security measures perform. Look for backdoors, vulnerabilities, or traces of past hacks.

6. Enable Network Address Translation (NAT)
Network address translation (NAT) is a router feature. This feature gives your VoIP system and devices associated with it a private IP address that is only visible on your LAN. It, therefore, acts as a wall between your system and the internet, making it difficult for outsiders to view your IP address. If they can’t view the IP address, then they can’t use it to hack your system.

7. Close Port 80 With a Firewall
VoIP devices — especially phones — on a local access network need ports to connect to the internet. A port is an active channel located on a router. Port 80 or the Hypertext Transfer Protocol is a port on the router that has HTTP traffic. HTTP traffic is the kind that is used on most websites. This is why port 80 is prone to easy hacking. Use a firewall to close your port 80 so that hackers can’t use it to access the web interface.

8. Keep systems and software up-to-date
Whether it is the computers’ operating systems or anti-virus software, keeping these systems and software up-to-date is crucial to security and protection. You may even consider using an intrusion prevention system or VoIP firewall to add additional layers of security.

9. Avoid international calling, unless needed
Unless your company works in international business and calling internationally is crucial to its operations, it is a good practice to disable international calling. However, if your business needs to call internationally, then make sure to check call records and history often to ensure there are no irregularities.

10. Consider remote device management
Remote device management enables remote access to a device which can then be wiped if the employee quits or is fired, or if the device is stolen. Whether your business issues laptops or implements a remote device management policy, ensure you activate remote device management on devices used by employees.

11. Educate users about VoIP security
It is important that all users of your VoIP phone system understand how the system works and how to keep it secure. Take time out to educate your employees about VoIP security and best practices.

12. See something, say something
By educating employees about VoIP security, you can train them to observe and notice irregularities or suspicious activity which they can then report to you. Such suspicious activity should then be brought to the notice of your VoIP provider.

Most Common VoIP Encryption Methods

In order to encrypt your VoIP traffic, you need to first understand how VoIP and SIP work together. SIP technology or Session Initiation Protocol in a VoIP phone system begins and ends a call session. SIP vulnerability occurs when a hacker invades the SIP process and uses it to eavesdrop on the call, collect sensitive information, and more. To secure your VoIP system, you must first secure your SIP transmission. Here are some VoIP encryption methods to consider:

  • Transport Layer Security (TLS)

Typically, this type of security is used to encrypt a VoIP SIP system when sessions begin and end. TLS keeps your VoIP secure by authenticating a security certificate and encrypting the information transmitted between two or more parties.

  • Secure Real-Time Transport Protocol (SRTP)

Typically, this type of security is used for high bandwidth VoIP usage. For example, you can use SRTP to secure voice calls and avoid bad or low call quality. SRTP protects voice data and information during the call by encrypting the call and adding message authentication within the channel.

  • Physical Protection

Lastly, you want to protect your company’s data from unhappy employees and other users who may have physical access to your VoIP system and hardware. The best way to avoid privacy and security breaches, such as the ones mentioned above, is to limit access to your system and enable remote device management.

Learn More About How to Secure Your VoIP System

Enabling VoIP security is essential to ensuring high-quality and fraud-free voice calling. This will help you offer secure services to your clients and keep their data safe. And doing so goes a long way in building strong customer relationships and credibility. Learn more about United World Telecom’s VoIP systems for business by speaking with our experts today!

What is IP Telephony?

Source: DepositPhotos.com - Lic#90734982 ID#27446420

Here we explain what IP telephony is and why companies should consider this type of phone system for business communications.

IP Telephony: Definition

IP telephony is any phone system that runs on the internet instead of traditional landlines. In other words, it uses the internet — internet protocol (IP) — to send and receive voice transmissions. Voice over IP (VoIP) is another term for IP telephony.

In a private exchange or IP PBX system, messages and data are transmitted digitally on a local area network. Voice messages are converted to analog voice signals and delivered to the recipient. However, an on-premise PBX system can lead to high hardware, installation, and maintenance costs. A hosted PBX or cloud phone system is preferable where digital data is sent to the provider and the provider routes to the appropriate destination.

Over time and with advancements in telecommunications, IP telephony can now offer high quality international calling along with advanced phone features. Plus, running an IP phone is much cheaper than plain old telephone service. No extra hardware is required. You can make and answer calls from virtually any device and any location.

Top 6 Benefits of VoIP and IP Telephony

So, why are more businesses using voice over IP? Here are the top six benefits of IP telephony

1. Low Running Costs
A hosted VoIP service or virtual phone system is run by your VoIP provider. This means that they take care of the hardware and maintenance required. And your business does not need to worry about purchasing additional hardware or installation fees. The provider handles call routing, call queues, etc. All you need is the right equipment (computers, desk phones, headsets) and a reliable internet connection.

2. High-Quality Service
Advancements in internet and communication technology have led to the transfer of high-quality voice and video over the internet. Because of this, you don’t have to worry about dropped or interrupted phone calls. This can greatly help improve and maintain your business’ professional image.

3. Scalability
With Voice over IP, your business can scale and grow as needed. If you need new phone numbers, they can be added to your existing plan. Direct inward dialing makes it easy to add more lines for new employees. Need to change how or where calls are being routed? Just change the rules in your online account. With virtual phone numbers, you can expand to new areas and markets as/ when needed.

4. Tools for Global Expansion
Lastly, you can expand your business globally with local and international toll free numbers for different countries. If you want to offer sales and customer support service to a new city, state, region, or country, virtual numbers and an IP telephony service can help you create a local presence. And you can do this without having to relocate or open a field office in different areas.

5. Access to SIP Trunking
SIP trunking is a telephony service that enables outbound voice from a PBX or SIP server. You can, therefore, provide international communication with customers anywhere in the world. All through one communication platform instead of using separate services and subscriptions.

6. Advances Features
phone system comes with a variety of advanced communication features for better call management. Popular features include:

    • Advanced call forwarding
    • Auto attendants
    • Interactive voice response
    • Outbound calling with a web dialer and custom caller ID capabilities
    • SMS/MMS forwarding
    • Video conferencing
    • Call recording (inbound and outbound), and more

Get Lower Bills and Higher Call Quality with IP Telephony

IP telephony can not only improve your call quality but also the way your business handles calls and customer service. If you are looking for an upgrade, speak with one of our experts to see how VoIP can enhance your business phone system.

POTS: Plain Old Telephone Service Explained

Source: DepositPhotos.com - Lic#8043400 ID#27446420

Wondering what POTS or plain old telephone service entails and whether that is the best  phone service for your business? Look no further. Here we explain how plain old telephone service works and the key terms to understand.

What is Plain Old Telephone Service?

Plain Old Telephone Service (POTS) refers to a phone line or traditional phone service which works through physical wires. This type of phone service enables analog voice transmission over copper pair wires. A POTS line is able to transmit voice messages across different countries and continents. Because of these abilities, POTS has been the standard phone service for individuals and businesses since its inception in the 1880s.

However, the creation of voice over IP or VoIP phone systems has seen a gradual shift to cloud communications, especially for business communication.

How Does a POTS Line Work?

Originally, transmission and communication between two points relied on an operator to connect them to the right place. With this technology, long-distance calling was more expensive than short-distance calling.

However, POTS automated the switching ability so that operators were unnecessary to the process. A POTS line works through copper wires connecting various points together. The phone service establishes a dedicated circuit between two points for the time of the transmission.

With a plain old telephone service, businesses are connected to central offices located nearby. And the central office, in turn, connects to long-distance offices or residents. This made communication transmission more digital and less manual. And it reduced the cost of long-distance communication. To connect parties, a call routes over one or more switches operating on local, national, or international levels.

Plain Old Telephone Service Technology

Some common terminology associated with POTS phone system technology are:

1. Circuit Switching
Now voice by itself cannot move through a POTS line. Sound waves need to be converted into electric signals to pass through the network. Copper wires are able to transmit analog signals, however, they need a dedicated switch to travel through. While dedicated circuits are reliable, the line is reserved for only one call.

Circuit switching required operators to plug wires into a common patch panel to connect two parties. Connections that required two exchanges would need two operators to plug the caller and receiver’s wires at the same time into the same wire called a trunk.

Then came automated switching which worked by responding to signals from a calling device. This type of switching eliminated the need for operators.

This switching was later replaced by the crossbar switch which is an assembly of switches among a set of inputs and outputs. This is a switch as each crosspoint. When this switch is closed, it enables the connection between one of the inputs and one of the outputs. This technology used common control networks that enable the switching network to conduct tasks such as call processing, monitoring, operation, etc. However, these devices were complicated and costly, as well, leading to the creation of the transistor.

2. Transistor
The transistor gave rise to digital networks enabling phone lines to carry digital signals in “packets.” Packets do not need the transmission channel to be an open and dedicated circuit. Instead, it transmits voice and other messages independently through the switches.

3. Modems
Modems were created to support the transmission of digital signals without overwhelming the system. Types of modems include:
DSL or Digital Subscriber Line enables data transmission over POTS lines. To do so, a transceiver connects to your PC and uses the local phone network to connect to an ISP network. This enables your use of the internet. This type of modem is useful to small businesses.
ISDN or Integrated Services Digital Network allows voice and data transmission over a regular phone line. To enable a connection, users dial in. And the fees for such service rely on the duration of the transmission. Large companies or businesses looking to expand in the future may find this modem more suited.

Plain Old Telephone Service for Business

Compared to VoIP or cloud phone systems, POTS may seem like the more expensive option. However, in areas where cellular or internet coverage is slow or inaccessible, copper lines are more reliable. When all else fails, you’ll find a POTS phone system to rescue you.

A basic plain old telephone service costs between $15-30 a month for unlimited local calls. One must keep in mind that other elements factor in as well, such as:

  • Setting up infrastructure — The larger the business, the more set-up costs, plus the technician and maintenance cost.
  • Additional features cost more — Intercom, call transfer, directories, etc.
  • International calling — If your business conducts international business on a regular basis, then this bill can grow quite a bit.

POTS vs VoIP

Most businesses in the modern era are switching from POTS to IP telephony such as a VoIP phone system or cloud PBX. Voice over IP uses your existing internet connection to transmit voice and data from one party to the next. VoIP makes it possible to connect remote offices and keep communications stable. It also comes equipped with features such as IVR, call forwarding, dynamic caller ID, softphones, etc. Plus, it reduces international calling costs as costs are not based on distance and time but on a monthly subscription.

Which is Right for Your Business?

Does your business need a POTS or VoIP phone system? This depends on what your business communications entail, the size and budget of your business, as well as future expansion plans. Speak with one of our experts to identify the right outbound calling service for your company. Call us at 1 (877) 898 8646 to learn more!

5 Most Effective Ways to Record VoIP Calls

Source: DepositPhotos.com - Lic#153696482 ID#27446420

Need to record, store, and analyze your business phone calls? In this article we evaluate five different ways to record VoIP calls.

How to Record Your Business VoIP Calls

Call recording is a requirement for companies for a myriad of industries worldwide, including healthcare and financial services. New regulations like HIPAA and MiFID II now require certain companies to record all customer interactions, including phone calls.

Most businesses choose to record their VoIP calls for a variety of reasons. Some of these include using recordings:

  • To make and store a copy of transactions
  • As evidence against false claims
  • For training and educational material
  • As protection against liabilities
  • To conduct performance reviews and improve quality assurance, and more

5 Ways to Record VoIP Calls

There are a few different ways to record VoIP calls. Here we list the top 5 ways to effectively record calls, highlighting advantages and disadvantages

1. Port Mirroring

Port mirroring is a traditional recording solution, used on a network switch. Port mirroring works by sending copies of network packets seen on one switch port to another. Network applications that require constant monitoring can make use of this type of recording. Common uses are intrusion detection, real user monitoring, or recording VoIP calls. You can use port mirroring to copy inbound and outbound traffic on multiple platforms.

One of the top disadvantages associated with port mirroring is the fact that it is on-premise hardware. This means it requires installation, maintenance, and configuration. If not operated and managed appropriately, it can result in loss of data and calls.

2. Call Recording Devices

This refers to using a recording device attached to the phone such as a stand-alone recorder. You can purchase a good recording device from as little as $100, connect it to your calling device (computer, desk phone, smartphone, etc.) and click the record button every time you want to record a call.

A disadvantage of getting standalone recording devices is the need for multiple devices if you want to record all calls made by employees. Each employee will need a device and all recordings will be made available separately. Additionally, there is a certain degree of manual use involved. That is, the employee will need to ensure they are recording their VoIP calls and then transfer the recording to the desired folder without fail. Plus, there may be limited storage available with such devices.

3. Local Recording Clients

Local recording allows users to record voice and video calls locally to their computer or laptop. Services such as Skype, Zoom, etc., enable local recording. The recordings can then be uploaded to Google Drive, Dropbox, YouTube, etc. Whether or not you can record VoIP calls this way depends on service.

Those who need small scale recording will find this type of call recording useful. However, if you have a large inbound and outbound call volume and wish to record all calls, using local recording can be a bit tedious as recording must be repeated for each call or user. Furthermore, some services require a subscription to enable recording while others provide it for free.

4. Online Recording Applications and Tools

You may also choose to download a recording application, use your desktop recorder, or get an online tool such as a web extension. However, these tools while easy to access, may not produce high-quality recordings and differ in terms of storage capacity and sharing abilities.

5. Hosted Recording

Finally, you may consider hosted call recording from your VoIP service provider that records all inbound and outbound calls automatically. For example, United World Telecom offers call recording as a premium feature that can be added to your VoIP plan.

Hosted call recording enables you to set the percent of calls to be recorded as well as how long you wish to store the recordings (up to 6 years). Since this works along with your service provider, all business voice over IP or VoIP calls are automatically recorded within the business’ control panel, which is easily accessible on any device.

Choosing the Right Way to Record VoIP Calls

The most effective way to record VoIP calls depends on your recording needs and budget. If you have small scale needs where you only record select calls, then using a local recording client or an online app may seem more suitable. However, if you need to record all calls, then subscribing to your business VoIP provider’s call recording software may seem like a more cost-effective and scalable solution. To learn more about hosted call recording, speak to one of our experts today!

What is a Dynamic Caller ID for VoIP?

Source: DepositPhotos.com - Lic#37006057 ID#27446420

Is it possible to change an outgoing caller ID? Yes, with the VoIP feature, dynamic caller ID, your business can display a local or toll free number instead of a long-distance or international number. But how do customizable caller IDs work and how can they benefit your business? Here we discuss dynamic caller IDs and their benefits.

What is a Caller ID?

Voice over IP or VoIP phone systems use the internet to place and receive calls. With a VoIP system, you can make calls from any location and through any device as long as it is connected to a reliable internet source. Such systems are also referred to as cloud phone systems. Because of their flexibility and use of the internet, these systems provide users with virtual communication features such as call forwarding, call recording, video conferencing, and more.

One of these features is a customizable and dynamic caller ID. The caller ID was first introduced in the 1980s. This allowed users to screen calls by being able to see who was calling. It provided an opportunity to miss calls from unknown numbers or numbers that were from different area codes.

However, this became a problem for sales and telemarketing businesses. Customers could now reject calls before answering them. Furthermore, it inhibited the activity of scammers and hackers as well. But in the middle of all of that, it negatively impacted legitimate businesses that were reaching out.

What is a Dynamic Caller ID for VoIP?

As a solution to this problem, the dynamic caller ID was invented. With the old, traditional caller ID systems, users were unable to change their outgoing caller ID. That is, the number that was displayed on the recipient’s device.

A dynamic caller ID, however, allows users to customize the number that is displayed. This way, you can show different numbers for different calls based on the purpose of the call. VoIP phone service providers can help you get and use this feature in different ways. Some providers will let you switch between different numbers that you purchase from them. You can purchase toll free, international, and local numbers. While others will give you a list of numbers to use with this feature.

The most common way is to get an outbound calling service with customizable caller ID capabilities from your provider. This way, you can use the outbound web dialer to place calls and display different virtual numbers. For example, even if your business is located in Texas, you can display a Florida area code number or a US toll free number as your outgoing caller ID. You can even get international toll free numbers and display them when calling international customers.

Why Does Your Business Need a Dynamic Caller ID?

The main reason why businesses use or should consider using a dynamic caller ID is so they can increase the chances of calls being answered. Individuals are less likely to answer calls from “unknown” numbers or numbers they do not recognize as toll free or local.

With a customizable caller ID, you can choose which number to display. When calling specific local areas, you can display that area’s local number or toll free number. In fact, this even increases the chances of receiving a call back because callers will be dialing a local or toll free number which does not incur high calling rates.

Contact centers, customer service teams, as well as sales and marketing teams can use this feature to reach more customers locally and internationally. The logic here is the customer will assume your business is local and will feel more comfortable doing business with you due to your location.

How to Get a Dynamic Caller ID?

United World Telecom offers a customizable caller ID with our outbound calling service. You can purchase outbound calling by adding it to your virtual phone number plan. Then, choose additional virtual numbers you would like to have. These are numbers for markets and areas where you want to expand your business or customer service. Then, start calling locally and internationally and give your team greater opportunities to make sales!

Fixed versus Non-Fixed VoIP Numbers: What’s the Difference?

Source: DepositPhotos.com - Lic#381796314 #27446420

When switching to a VoIP phone system, there are a lot of terminologies to understand. Fixed VoIP numbers and non-fixed VoIP numbers are two of them. In this post, we will discuss the differences between these voice over IP phone numbers so you can choose the right one for your needs.

VoIP Numbers: Definition & Types

Before going through the differences between fixed and non-fixed VoIP numbers, it is important to first understand what VoIP numbers are. Voice over internet protocol or VoIP is a telephony solution that uses the internet to make and receive calls. It does so by converting voice into data packets and transmitting them over an IP network.

When you call someone using your VoIP line, they will see your VoIP number which is a part of your caller ID. But what information is present within your caller ID depends on what type of VoIP number and service you have. This can be a fixed VoIP number or a non-fixed VoIP number.

What are Fixed VoIP Numbers?

A fixed VoIP number is an internet phone line offered by your VoIP provider and attached to a physical location. In other words, it has an account manager and a residential or company address associated with it. Like office phone systems, these numbers require an address to activate the service. If the account manager wants to move this number, they can do so through number porting.

It is almost impossible to steal or mask the identity of a fixed VoIP number as they are connected to a physical address. Because of this, these numbers are more reliable and preferred since they keep fraudulent activity at bay. This connection to physical addresses is also the reason why VoIP providers support 911 and emergency calling services on fixed VoIP lines.

Fixed VoIP lines are not only connected through an internet connection. They also function through SIP trunks providing more reliable service.

What is a Non-Fixed VoIP Phone Number?

Non-fixed VoIP numbers are not associated with physical addresses. On the contrary, they function more like virtual phone numbers. Since they work through the internet (“virtually”) and do not require a physical address, they can function from any geographic location. Small businesses that want to offer a local presence can use this to their advantage.

Virtual numbers allow you to make and answer calls over an internet connection. And this makes it possible to connect with international clients or customers without incurring long-distance calling fees. You can get various local phone numbers and toll free numbers with specific area codes that can be used through your non-fixed line. This way, your customers will be calling local or toll free numbers instead of paying international dialing fees. And incoming calls are forwarded to whichever line or number you desire.

Who can use non-fixed VoIP numbers? Businesses and companies preparing or wanting to:

  • Expand their reach
  • Enter new markets
  • Connect with international customers
  • Operate remote or virtual teams (examples: virtual call centers, work-from-home teams, etc.)

Non-fixed VoIP numbers are inexpensive, easy to set-up, and use. But due to these reasons, they may be prone to fraudulent activity. Also note that compared to fixed VoIP lines, non-fixed lines should be a last resort for 911 calls because these calls are not traceable.

Fixed vs Non-Fixed VoIP Numbers: What’s the Difference

How do you decide which is better for your business? This decision largely depends on the needs of your business and its future plans. For a small business starting out, a fixed VoIP number may seem like the better bet. However, if you have international offices and cater to international customers, then a non-fixed VoIP phone number is more appropriate. With advancements in technology, VoIP and ISP providers have been trying to offer more secure services. Here is a more visual comparison:

Fixed VoIP Phone Numbers Non-Fixed VoIP Phone Numbers
Can work through SIP trunking or an internet connection Need only an internet connection to work
Need to be assigned to a physical address Does not need to be assigned to a physical address
More authentic and secure Less secure; However, providers are continuously trying to provide more secure internet services
Come with advanced call management features Come with advanced call management features
More expensive international calling Less expensive international calling;
Good for businesses with global communications
Generally more expensive;
Additional features cost extra
Comparatively inexpensive;
Easy to obtain and quick to set-up;
Additional features may cost extra
Able to make 911 and emergency calls Unable to make 911 and emergency calls

Choose What’s Best for Your Company

Depending on your company’s present needs and future goals, it is important to select a service that is reliable, scalable, and offers great customer support. To learn more about VoIP numbers, speak with one of our experts at 1 (877) 898 8646.