Telephony is a broad topic, but there’s a specific term that’s usually heard alongside it: “VoIP” or Voice Over Internet Protocol. Essentially, when people talk about telephony, they’re referring to phone systems in general. You can think of VoIP as the most current technology used to deliver and run those systems.
Though telephony and VoIP are technically different terms, they aren’t really separate concepts. VoIP is simply a form of telephony that transmits your voice as data over the internet. In other words, it’s converted into a digital format, something you can’t do with an ISDN or traditional phone line. When used intelligently, VoIP technology can make managing your phone system a lot less staff-heavy and, therefore, more efficient.
What is telephony?
Let’s start with the official definition: “The field of technology involving the development, application, and deployment of telecommunications services for the purpose of electronic transmission of voice data and fax.” A mouthful, isn’t it? Basically, it’s your modern telephone system, which can come in different forms. For business-specific phone systems, there are three basic types: traditional, on-premise PBX; voice PBX; and hosted VoIP phone systems.
What does PBX stand for?
A private branch exchange (PBX) is, at its core, a private telephone network used within a company or organisation. Chances are, there’s a box somewhere in your own office with a sea of cords coming out of it, almost like an old-school switchboard. That’s your own personal phone exchange, which routes your calls internally.
With a PBX, you’ll use a three-to-four-digit extension rather than a regular nine-digit number, because so many digits are not necessary at a business-scale. Your extension could be 200, 220, or 2000 depending on the size of your organisation, and that will be the number at which you are reachable by other members of the same organisation.
Standard phone systems, which are now nearly obsolete, used to mean an ISDN connection. In simple terms, this meant a bunch of phone lines and a switchboard which would route calls between them based on the way you programmed your PBX. In the modern day, we have IP-based PBXs; instead of a physical switchboard, your internet connection is the medium that delivers your phone calls to their respective destinations, via an IP-based network.
Finally, there is cloud-based PBX, which has all the same functionality without any of the limits. A cloud PBX routes your calls to a server, and then your end user system communicates with that server to receive call data—in whatever form it may be. That includes voicemail, video calling, internal instant messages, or otherwise. This iteration represents the latest in phone systems technology.
Why are telephony or phone systems necessary?
When you first start a small business, of course, your mobile number is probably sufficient. You might get a couple of calls a day, and as the business owner, you can deal with them. But as your company grows, you’ll have more departments and more calls constantly happening between them all. It’s practically essential to have a system in place that can manage your telephony at this scale.
The reason is simple. Having any kind of system—telephonic or otherwise—allows a certain degree of organisation, structure, reporting, consistency, and all the other things we love in a business. Naturally, when it comes to telephony, we want our calls routed in a consistent manner. We also want to be able to get data about what’s happening with our calls. Furthermore, we want to be able to measure call volume (that is, the number of calls in a certain time frame), and so on. Training may be somewhat lengthier or more involved than a regular phone line would require, but once that’s out of the way, you have access to what is objectively the superior solution.
What is the difference between VoIP telephony and IP telephony, then?
VoIP and IP phone systems, though not one and the same, are nevertheless very much related to each other. For example, let’s say you have an on-premise PBX or IPBX plugged into to your network switch, but still route outgoing calls through a traditional ISDN phone line. In this situation, you would be dealing with an IP-based phone system, but it wouldn’t be VoIP. That’s because your call data is not being adapted into a digital form before it’s delivered to the recipient.
What are the pros and cons of VoIP phone systems, specifically?
Truthfully, VoIP is unavoidable—and you’re probably already using it, whether you realize it or not. Even the NTD, which is the operative device of NBN, uses an ATA adaptor (which is just a VoIP phone line plug). So, even if you’re transmitting an analog telephone signal, it’s being converted into a digital format via VoIP technology.
This is the nature of technology as an ever-evolving field of work. Don’t worry—it’s a good thing overall. But you should know that if your internet goes down, that means you’ll have a phone outage, too—because your telephony is dependent on the internet. We strongly recommend that you inquire with your IT or VoIP provider about implementing a 4G backup in case of emergency. Taking this precaution is the only thing you really have to do in order to be prepared and secure in your VoIP phone system.
Frankly, that’s the only con. Everything else is a positive:
- The technology is cheaper because it’s more efficient. You’ll save money using it, since one SIP trunk can effectively replace multiple phone lines.
- VoIP phone systems offer a ridiculous level of flexibility. The number of options you can configure them to handle for you are practically limitless.
- An IP-based phone system in general is perfect for remote work. You can have your phone calls delivered from anywhere straight to your home office, and you can likewise send data from your home office to anyone anywhere.
- Traditional phone lines existed in a fixed physical location. VoIP technology offers a massive advantage in that you can have a phone app to deliver your voice as well as PC access to call logs, voicemail and more.
Can you recommend a good business phone systems provider?
3CX has been Club IT’s go-to for ages. Read more about operating your business’s phone system from home. Or, if you still have questions, please give us a call on 1300 788 874 today!