VoIP calls: Everything you need to know about how they work
VoIP systems are very popular with businesses. With them, you can make calls through the internet—it’s really cheap and saves you a ton of cash.
But what actually happens in VoIP calls? Well, you’re in the right place to find out! Here’s our full guide for business on the tech. Plus, you can always compare the market to find the best VoIP system deals.
What’s a VoIP phone call?
Let’s start with the basics! What does “VoIP call” mean? Well, it’s a phone call that’s made over the internet. You can make a call using a broadband internet connection to make local, long distance and international phone calls.
That’s right, no traditional office phones needing a phone line. No rotary phones from the 1970s. Just straight up modern calling done proper (with the internet).
Intrigued? Well, we’ve got a full guide to what VoIP is if you want to find out more about this VoIP system stuff.
How do VoIP calls work?
This is the technical bit! It’s pretty really, as a VoIP system will convert your voice. Into what? A digital signal.
That’s then blasted across the internet. The person on the other end of the phone will then hear you and a conversation can take place.
Basically, you can make VoIP calls:
- Directly from your computer
- Using a special VoIP phone
- From an adapted traditional phone
- Using wireless hotspots in public locations (like an airport)
So, in short, a VoIP system converts a voice into a digital signal. That’s then compressed and sent across the internet. But to make that happen, you’ll need a few bits and bobs.
What equipment do you need for VoIP calls?
Now, of course, you’ll have to buy some fancy equipment to make a call. You can’t just try and plug a rotary phone into a computer.
For a start, you need a great business broadband deal. For that you’ll need either a:
- Cable modem
- LAN (local area network)
Just as importantly, you’ll need an adaptor, computer or VoIP phone.
Every provider is a bit different, so you check exactly what’s needed before picking a system. For example, some will only let you make calls across a computer or VoIP phone.
And if you’re using a computer, you’ll likely need to install or download some software to go with your new kit.
How much do VoIP calls cost?
You’re not really charged for calls, you’ll instead pay for a recurring subscription as part of your VoIP system package. Costs can be as low as £10 per month (or per user).
But there are extra costs around that. You might have to pay for VoIP hardware as well.
Say that costs £100 for every user. Then you’re looking at £1,000 if you’ve got 10 employees you want setup with a VoIP phone.
It really depends on the provider you choose, which is why it’s a great idea to compare the market before buying anything. Make sure you get the package that suits you best!
How to improve VoIP call quality
Once you’ve switched over to a hosted phone system, you may actually find the call quality isn’t at its best to begin with. But there are some easy fixes for that!
Here are six steps to follow to ramp up the quality ASAP.
- Get quality headsets. It’s worth paying extra for good ones, that way you’re guaranteed to have top hardware that delivers the goods.
- Upgrade your ethernet cable to a CAT6. This can remove issues like a scrambled voice (known as a jitterbug).
- Get a VoIP router. Don’t use a router for everything in your business, make sure you’ve got one specifically for calls.
- Consider a switch from Wi-Fi to DECT (digital enhanced cordless telecoms). Remember, devices might mess around with your connection on Wi-Fi, so the switch may well cut that out.
- Check your bandwidth and make sure you’ve got enough for a VoIP system. If you don’t, consider cutting down on bandwidth by reviewing your system and removing programs you use on a computer. That’ll free up more speed.
- Buy compression software to make your voice travel smoothly across the network.
In short, it’s really down to making sure you’ve got a great broadband package that can handle everything going on in your day-to-day business.
But also shell out for quality hardware, otherwise you may have to face jitterbug voices that sound scrambled. And that’s not good for business.
The business benefits of VoIP calls
Right, we’ve been through a lot! But what are the advantages your business will get by making VoIP calls? Let’s take a look:
Lower costs: In the long-term, you will save money with a VoIP system. They’re cheap to run and are often as little as £10 a month (or per person).
Better accessibility: You can make calls from anywhere! You can take your business phone with you so long as you have the softphone app… and that’s a huge bonus in this 24/7 business world.
- Portability: Yes, you can take your phones around with you. So long as you plug it in somewhere, your VoIP system will work!
- Business scalability: Future-proof your business with a system you’ll be using for years ahead. And also one that can be adapted as you hire more staff.
- Better voice quality: There’s no denying it—you just get better quality calls with a VoIP system.
- Multi-taking features: Yes, you can make calls. But you can also use VoIP to send documents, pictures and videos. All while you’re chatting away to someone!
- Better security: VoIP cuts out many security threats by using advanced tech like encryption and identity management. Providers work flat out to ensure their networks offer the very latest safety features, so you have peace of mind.
There are some downsides, of course, as the initial setup fees can be quite high.
Plus, like we mentioned further above, you need to make sure you’re ready to run the system at its absolute best. There’s no point forking out for all that new kit and then realising your broadband package can’t hack it.
So, do some research before you commit!
That way it’ll all pay off in the long-term and most businesses (large and small) are making the shift towards this more technologically advanced phone system.
The difference between VoIP and landlines
Before we wrap things up here, we’re taking a look at the differences between VoIP and landlines. What if you want to stick with your old phones… is that a good idea?
Of course, there’s nothing wrong with sticking to landline phones. They still work, although keep in mind the ISDN switch off in 2025 will mean you have to update soon.
But for now, the comparison looks a bit like this.
What’s the cheapest option?
Well, this depends on what’s going on with your business.
For example, if you’d need to setup landlines to your offices then that’d be rather pricey. Whereas getting a VoIP system in is a much cheaper option, because all you need is an internet connection.
However, if you’ve got a landline already… what’s best?
Well, we’d have to say VoIP. Cloud-based calling rates are cheaper than phone line calls and that’s set to stay the same for a long time to come.
Which phone system has the best functions?
Again, this is an easy one. VoIP comes with all of the most advanced features and then some, with options to send pictures and documents across the network.
Phone lines do have some features like call forwarding and recording, but they’re all included with VoIP these days anyway.
So for us, unquestionably, you can’t beat VoIP for the functionality and accessibility you’ll get with a package.
Which is best for quality and reliability?
Phone lines are pretty reliable, as we all know. You can usually always depend on them for a solid signal and to keep functioning, whatever the weather.
But what about VoIP? It’s true it can suffer from some issues from time to time.
It’s really dependent on the quality of your internet service. If you’ve got fantastic broadband, you’ll have fantastic quality and reliability.
So, there’s really no outright best here from phone lines and VoIP. Both are great, but the latter depends on you having solid Wi-Fi.
Which is more scalable?
Well, VoIP wins this one flat out. To scale it up it’s low cost and easy to do. You may have to pay for more lines and numbers, but you don’t have to do much else than pay for it.
But if you want to scale a landline service, then we’re talking about more phones, wired phone lines and all sorts of hullaballoo.
Basically, it’d get messy and expensive. It’s doable, of course, and you can scale up with a landline.
But you’d be better off saving the money and putting it towards investing in an IP phone system.
Fancy getting some VoIP?
You’ve had the lowdown about VoIP calls! Now it’s time to think about getting setup with a system.
It’s easy to do. Just compare the market.
Enter your business details into our free form, then we’ll search our database for the very best deals for your business.
You can then take your pick from the deals you find, that’s should you like the look of the ones you come across. Give it a go! Any questions? Then you can give us a call.