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You Are Here: Home - Newsletters - "Organized For A Living" - Article

What Is Internet Telephony And How Does It Work


The way we make phone calls is changing. Many service providers are already using a technology called internet TELEPHONY -- a technology that turns analogue audio signals into DIGITAL data that can be transferred over the web.
WHY DO WE NEED THIS?

You may be asking yourself how this new internet telephony technology is useful. Well think about it for a few seconds. If it is possible to turn analogue signals into digital data, then internet telephony can turn a standard INTERNET connection into a method for placing phone calls anywhere in the world virtually FREE, except for your internet service fee, enabling you to bypass the phone companies entirely.
AN AMAZING ADVANCE

Internet telephony has the potential to completely REVOLUTIONIZE the way the worlds phone systems operate. There are many internet telephony service providers that have been around for a while, and are growing steadily. Now the world's leading TELECOMMUNICATIONS operators are waking up to the endless possibilities of this new technology, setting up internet telephony calling centers around the world and promoting the sales of internet telephony phone systems.
ATA CALLS

The simplest way to make an internet telephony phone call is through the use of analogue telephone adaptors -- sometimes called GATEWAYS. These devices enable you to make use of your existing standard analogue phones. You simply plug your standard HANDSET into the gateway then connect the gateway to your computer or your internet connection, enabling you to make internet telephony calls. A gateway takes the analogue signal from your standard phone and turns it into a digital signal that is ready for transmission over the internet. Some gateways come with additional SOFTWARE that is loaded onto a host computer, enabling you to configure it for internet telephony accurately.
IP PHONES

These handsets look just like normal standard handsets. They have an ETHERNET connector instead of the standard phone connectors. These phones have all the necessary software and hardware to handle internet telephony calls already built in them. They connect directly to your ROUTER, providing a very fast and cost effective entry into the world of internet telephony.
COMPUTER TO COMPUTER

This is the easiest way to make use of the internet telephony technology. There are many companies offering cost effective software that you can use for this type of internet telephony. Usually the only charge you pay is the monthly one from your internet service provider, even for long distance calls. All you need is a MICROPHONE, speakers, a suitable sound card and a fast internet CONNECTION.
TIMES THEY ARE A CHANGING

Chances are that you have already made an internet telephony call without even REALIZING it. The major phone companies already use internet telephony to route thousands of long distance calls through a circuit switch and into a gateway. This is then received by a gateway at the other end and then routed to another local circuit switch. More and more companies are installing internet telephony systems, and the technology will GROW and grow until it finds its way into every business and household across the globe.
PORTABILITY

Because with internet telephony you can make calls from anywhere you have access to a broadband connection, users can take their phones or gateways with them on TRIPS and still have access to what is essentially their LOCAL phone.
SERVICE AVAILABLE ANYWHERE

Some people use a SOFTPHONE -- a specially developed software application that loads the internet telephony service onto your desktop computer or laptop. Some even have an interface on the screen that looks like a traditional phone. These softphone applications allow you to place internet telephony calls from your LAPTOP; anywhere in the world you have access to a broadband connection.
FEATURES

Most traditional phone companies charge you for extra features that are added to your account. With internet telephony service providers these usually come as STANDARD. Features such as:
  • caller identification
  • call waiting
  • call transfer
  • repeat dialling
  • return call
  • 3-way dialing
Some internet telephony service providers also offer advanced call FILTERING features. These additional features allow you to decide how calls to a specific number are handled by using caller information. They allow you to:
  • FORWARD the call to a particular number
  • send the call directly to VOICEMAIL
  • give the caller a BUSY signal
  • play a "not in SERVICE" message
INTERACTING WITH YOUR COMPUTER

Many internet telephony services also allow you to check your voicemail over the INTERNET or attach messages to an EMAIL that is sent to your computer or handheld. Itís best to check with phone system suppliers and service operators exactly what features they offer as package and service prices vary greatly.
A BARGAIN

There are many other cost SAVING benefits that arise from a streamlined internet telephony system network. Network administrators only have one network to maintain instead of two. The portability of the phone system is also greatly simplified because most systems can be configured using a web interface, which can be managed by the network administrator. The MAC (move, add, change) process is made much easier, and you will not have to call your system or service provider for every adjustment you carry out. All this means lower ongoing costs for your company.
LINKING DIFFERENT LOCATIONS

Another cost saving for companies who implement an internet telephony system is, because multiple offices, no matter where they are in the world are seamlessly CONNECTED, they can SHARE many of the features internet telephony can offer, such as:
  • one single receptionist
  • auto attendant facilities
  • voice mail system
CHOOSING A SYSTEM

If you have decided that an internet telephony phone system is the right step for your company, next you need to determine which of your existing telephone EQUIPMENT you are able to keep. The potential cost savings that can be made through using any existing digital equipment are huge. Many digital phone systems can be internet telephony ENABLED using minor hardware additions and software upgrades.
WHAT ARE YOU GETTING?

When shopping around for potential systems you need to be certain of the features they provide as standard and which are OPTIONAL cost extras. You also need to be certain of exactly what is included with the system. Many suppliers claim to include everything you need, but standard components can vary from one company to the other. So you need to sure you are comparing EQUIVALENT systems when approaching potential suppliers.
USING WHAT YOU HAVE

You will also need to enquire about the COMPATIBILITY of existing equipment. The technology used in many internet telephony systems may affect the implementation of any existing telephone hardware. You will also need to ensure that any devices such as fax machines, credit card processors, and security systems can be INTEGRATED into your new VoIP phone system. You should make any potential vendor aware of such devices so they can provide you with a suitable phone system for your requirements.
A FINAL WARNING

Finally, do not try to save money by buying USED internet telephony systems. Remember, this is a new technology, so even last years equipment is outdated. Also the installation cost will still apply whether the system is new or second hand, and the service costs may even be higher due to RELIABILITY issues. To put it simply it just isnít worth the hassle, the higher secondary costs will wipe out any potential saving.

 

Jason Morris is co-author, search engine optimization and marketing consultant of Business Phone Systems Direct. Specialists in the supply and installation of business phone systems and accessories. Visit his website at www.businessphonesystemsdirect.co.uk.


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