VoIP is one of the latest technologies creating a buzz…
VoIP Phones for Businesses
Making and receiving VoIP calls requires hardware that is compatible with the technology. Unlike the PSTN, businesses have a wide variety of alternatives available for VoIP communication. VoIP phones can be extremely basic or fully featured, powerful instruments with conference calling and other capabilities. The price range also reflects this with prices ranging from a few tens of dollars to hundreds.
Of course it is not really necessary to have a dedicated VoIP desk phone to start making calls. Nonetheless while it may suffice for consumers, freelancers and startups, most businesses will prefer to use better hardware for voice clarity, call quality and functionality.
Headphones with integrated mic
Headphones can be connected to computers through wires or wireless connections such as Bluetooth. While even the most basic headset will perform adequately, the higher-priced models have useful features like extended range Bluetooth, call waiting, high standby time etc. Desk phones offers superior voice quality but headphones – being portable – can be used anywhere. Hence they are commonly used by executives while traveling, temporarily working from remote locations and any other time when desk phones are not accessible.
Analog phones with adapters
Analog phones can also be used on VoIP networks as long as they are connected to external ATA adapters. These devices have both FXO and FXS ports so that analog phones can be plugged in to make calls. The advantage with this option is that businesses do not have to spend thousands of dollars to replace perfectly functioning equipment for all their employees, especially for large organizations. By utilizing adapters, they can rollout VoIP phones in phases by location, department or other criteria.
However the disadvantage is that most analog phones will not be capable of taking advantage of the advanced functionality that is made possible via VoIP. Not all analog phones will work well with VoIP functions, so some hardware may be rendered useless. Generally businesses use adapters as a temporary measure, until they can equip all users with IP phones. It can also help to spread out the cost of purchasing new equipment throughout the year rather than all at once.
Dedicated IP phones are the preferred option for most organizations upgrading to VoIP. They provide the best call quality and clarity, even in less than ideal network conditions. These phones look like analog phones but they are built to operate on VoIP networks. Even the most basic models are equipped with a small display, keyboard and dedicated function buttons which may be programmable as well.
Some of the more advanced models may have bigger or color displays, extendable modules, better quality audio hardware (speakers and microphone) and allow users to have multiple calls at once. The optional modules generally offer extra functionality such as attendant console, power backup or additional buttons that can be mapped specific features. Some of these phones even come equipped with basic XML capability. It allows businesses to integrate the handsets with custom services and applications.
DECT & Conference Phones
DECT phones use wireless technology so that users are not restricted to their desk. The hardware usually consists of a base unit – which can be used to make calls as well – along with wireless handsets. Depending on the model, each base unit can handle anywhere from 3 to 6 handsets at a time. These phones can be used as an intercom for different parts of the office or if the workplace is spread across multiple floors.
VoIP conference phones are specialized units and are a worthwhile investment for businesses that frequently conduct conferences. Many of them offer HD voice, while the more advanced models feature multiple microphones and speakers to allow more people to participate. Some units connect via USB to computers so they can be used with services like Skype or Google Voice. Generally most conference phones connect directly to the VoIP network so they can be used as standalone devices.
While DECT and conference phones are certainly useful in certain circumstances, they are not general purpose phones. Similarly headsets and adapters are also appropriate in specific situations but not if you need the best sound quality. Hence standard IP desk phones are the most popular option for enterprises that are deploying VoIP.
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