Let’s Talk Technology! (What is VoIP?)

One of the most commonly found contact center acronyms these days is VoIP. While at first glance VoIP may look like some random gibberish that would be spit out if you fell asleep at your desk and bumped your head against the keyboard, it actually stands for something pretty cool.

VoIP refers to “Voice over IP,” which, without getting into too much technical mumbo-jumbo, is basically a way for people (and contact centers) to make and receive calls over the Internet instead of through regular phone lines.

Now why would anyone want to do that?” you might ask. One of the major advantages is cost savings. Although actual fees vary depending on the specific provider, in the vast majority of cases, PC-to-PC and PC-to-phone VoIP calls are substantially cheaper than regular phone-to-phone calls. VoIP services also offer many features such as call forwarding, call waiting and 3-way or conference calling. Additionally, because it takes place over the Internet, computer-based VoIP systems can allow the sharing of data and applications back and forth between users.

It is typically very simple to place and receive VoIP calls, and VoIP devices can be used anywhere there is a digital broadband connection. In addition to PC-based VoIP calling, there are also digital VoIP phones that allow VoIP calls to be made without the use of a computer. In some cases, VoIP calling can even be made in areas of the world beyond the reach of cell phones, such as some isolated foreign countries.

If VoIP is so great, then why isn’t it more common?” you might ask. The main reason is that without a strong network in place with modern equipment and suitable bandwidth, there is a possibility of lower sound quality. VoIP systems must transform the voice information into a digital signal when transmitting data over the Internet, and sometimes this signal may become degraded during the conversion or transmission process if the network is not up to date.

A VoIP system may also not be practical in areas with frequent power outages because, unlike traditional phone systems that can function during blackouts, when the juice is cut off, a VoIP system will go down.

While these concerns may be relevant for average consumers, for modern call centers that run on state of the art networks with redundant power supplies in place, the benefits of VoIP systems far outweigh the disadvantages. The bottom line is that VoIP systems offer increased levels of control and flexibility for contact centers, usually at a lower operating cost than a traditional phone system. Therefore, it is easy to understand why more and more contact centers are now using VoIP technology. Also, as overall digital network technology improves, more and more data will be able to be transmitted at a faster rate, leading to better overall signal quality and improved sound.

VoIP truly is the future of calling.

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