A VoIP phone is a hardware- or software-based telephone designed to use voice over IP (VOIP) technology to send and receive phone calls over an IP network.
The phone converts analog telephony audio into a digital format that can be transmitted over the internet and converts incoming digital phone signals from the internet to standard telephone audio.
VoIP phones, also known as IP phones, include features and capabilities not found in traditional analog phones. They also have additional performance requirements because phone calls are placed over the internet instead of the legacy public switched telephone network (PSTN).
The two main types of IP phones are hardware-based and software-based phones.
Physically, a hardware-based VoIP phone resembles a traditional hard-wired or cordless telephone. These phones include physical features such as a speakerphone or microphone, a touchpad, and display hardware to show user input and caller ID.
Software-based IP phones, also known as Softphones are software clients installed on a user’s computer or mobile device. The softphone user interface often resembles a phone handset, with a touchpad and caller ID display.
Advantages and disadvantages of VoIP phones
Organizations can reduce calling costs by switching to VoIP services. While traditional analog phones can have lower upfront costs, they are more costly to support, upgrade and integrate with communications applications. IP phones also offer cheaper long-distance and international calls, as VoIP phone calls are charged at the local rate of the call’s destination.
VoIP phones offer greater mobility and scalability than traditional handsets. If an organization moves to a new location, it doesn’t need to acquire new phone lines, which it would with a traditional phone system. Adding new phones to a VoIP system is only limited by the available bandwidth on the organization’s network. Softphones also provide increased mobility, as the clients are not tied to physical locations like they would be with hard-wired phones.
VoIP phones can also integrate with other communications applications. For example, organizations can integrate their customer relationship management (CRM) software with VoIP phones to enhance caller ID and keep records of call information.
VoIP phones, however, do have disadvantages. For example, VoIP phones require a reliable internet connection and are susceptible to bandwidth constraints. With insufficient bandwidth, phone calls may experience Latency which can result in delays and dropped calls. Additionally, if an organization has a power or internet outage, users cannot make calls from their VoIP phones.
Emergency calls with VoIP phones can be difficult because IP addresses do not offer the exact location of callers, which makes it difficult for 911 operators to route VoIP phone calls to the appropriate emergency call center. VoIP providers are required by the Federal Communications Commission to support E911. however, and may use third-party providers to meet that requirement.
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