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Many organizations are considering making the switch to VoIP telephony. In doing so, a number of important questions come to mind.
Is VoIP reliable enough?
What do we do with the phones?
Will it work with our existing office phone number?
In this article, we'll explain more about VoIP and the different types of phones that exist for it, so you can make an informed choice for your business.
What is VoIP anyway?
Before we go any further, it's good to take a moment to think about VoIP. What is it really, how does it work and what are the benefits?
For decades, phone calls were made over the traditional, copper wire, phone network. VoIP, on the other hand, uses the same internet connection that you already use to email, browse, and bank online.
With VoIP, an analog signal (your voice) is converted into a digital signal, which is sent in data packets. At the receiver, the signal is delivered in analog form, so that you can be heard. This is how data traffic goes back and forth. The communication is just as fluid as with 'old-fashioned' analogue telephony; indeed, the sound quality with VoIP is often much better. You can call someone on the other side of the world and it will seem as if that person is in the room with you.
VoIP telephony uses your current internet connection; whether it is ADSL, fiber, the mobile network or even satellite. Often you can keep the same subscription as before; no matter how many calls you make at the same time. So in that respect, the investment in VoIP is very small.
Because VoIP works differently than traditional telephony, you do need different phones.
The available VoIP phones can be divided into two categories: hardphones and softphones. These terms are similar to what hardware and software are to computer users.
Let's see what the differences between these phones are, and what the advantages and disadvantages are.
Hardphones: advantages and disadvantages
Hardphones are physical phones; boxes that you can put on your desk. In fact, they just look like normal phones, but "under the hood" is a VoIP system that uses your internet connection.
One of the advantages of a hardphone is that you can receive or make calls at any time, because your computer does not have to be active for it to receive calls.
A disadvantage is that the software that runs on this hardphone cannot be easily updated. So enjoying more features or increasing the security is not possible. Another disadvantage is that hardphones cost more than softphones.
Softphones: Advantages and disadvantages
A softphone can do the same thing as a hardphone - calling via VoIP - but looks different. Instead of a physical phone on your desk, it is a phone in the form of software on your computer or an app on your phone. Skype is an example of a softphone, as are Viber, Google Talk, and Bria. Even the green phone icon on the iPhone is a type of softphone.
The advantage of a softphone is that the software or firmware is easily or sometimes even automatically updated. Providers also regularly add additional features, which means that softphones can do more and more over time and get better and better.
Will it work with my existing phone number?
Whether your company uses hardphones or softphones (or a combination of both) makes no difference if you have housed your business phone number with Belfabriek.
Your phone number at Belfabriek is a virtual number that covers your normal or VoIP number(s).
How it works.
Callers key in your phone number. Your caller's phone connects to our Interactive Voice Response system (IVR).
Depending on the setup of your number, our IVR determines what to do with the call. If an incoming call needs to be transferred to one of your employees, our IVR will transfer the caller to your phone.
For us it doesn't matter whether you use a hardphone, a softphone, a mobile or a traditional telephone.
After closing time or when it is very busy, our IVR can play a message or record a spoken message from the caller.
The IVR system connects callers to any type of phone device, regardless of technology or network. The big advantage, then, is that you don't need to make any additional investments in new devices or networks. A virtual number from Belfabriek is future-proof and infinitely scalable.
Frequently Asked Questions
If you are still undecided as to which VoIP phone is the best choice for your organization, we have listed some common questions below and answered them.
Can I use hardphones and softphones within one installation?
Of course you can. Depending on the situation or the preference of the employee, you can choose between a softphone or a hardphone.
When setting up a service number on our IVR you indicate when calls should be forwarded to each of these devices.
As already mentioned, it does not matter to our IVR which device you use.
So I can also combine VoIP with regular phones or cell phones?
That is not a problem either.
In fact, some organizations use cell phones as a fall-back system in case the hardphone VoIP phones are overloaded or unavailable in case of a power or network outage.
Do I need to buy a new telephone system?
No, that is not necessary.
When you choose hardphones, you plug them directly into your network router.
Both softphones and hardphones are configured via a network interface.
You can leave the distribution of incoming calls entirely up to the Belfabriek IVR system. Here you add important features such as, for example, a Virtual Call Center, which ensures that calls are distributed evenly among available employees.
So what about a self-hosted VoIP system?
A self-hosted, or on-premise, system means that a company invests in, and owns, its own Private Branch eXchange (PBX) hardware, which functions as its own, internal, PBX.
Companies do this because they expect to have more control over the operation of their PBX in this way. However, this requires a significant investment in hardware and maintenance, while also requiring additional, and well-trained staff to operate and maintain it.
The Belfabriek's hosted IVR system, on the other hand, gives you complete control over the setup of your number(s), while you don't have to worry about equipment investment and maintenance.
This leaves you with more time and resources to focus on the things that are important to your organization.
Can't we just use our own cell phones?
Of course you can. Very well, if you choose a softphone solution.
You and your employees use a cell phone according to your own preferences. Each employee installs the chosen softphone solution and you manage it centrally, over the network.
If you have a range of business phone numbers, you can assign each employee a 088 number from your own range. In this way, all employees can be reached on a number from a uniform range and you can still safeguard the image of your organization.
We can set up call forwarding so that incoming calls are automatically forwarded when you or your employees are on the road.
What features can I use with my VoIP solution?
When you have your business phone number(s) with Belfabriek, you always have access to our full comprehensive package of additional services. Here are some of the features our clients use the most:
Digital answering machine
Direct call transfer
Area code routing
Zip code routing
Email reporting statistics
Virtual call center
How do I connect my phone number to the Belfabriek?
If you already have a service number, you can easily transfer it to the Belfabriek. Feel free to contact us without obligations. We can assist you with the transfer free of charge,
If you do not have a business phone number yet, please check our numbershops to see which numbers are currently available.
Please note that numbers are allocated on a first-come-first-served basis, so don't wait too long to establish your preference.
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