Tag Archives: Cloud Hosted VoIP

VoIP and SIP: What’s the Difference?

VoIP and SIPVoIP and SIP are often confused for the same thing, but they are actually different. VoIP defines the kind of phone call (over Internet), and SIP refers to the method used to enable VoIP calls between different devices. Let me explain. 

Defining VoIP

Voice Over Internet Protocol is a rather broad term that discerns Internet calls from landline calls. VoIP operates over the Internet by digitally transmitting the voice signal to another telephone. VoIP usually operates with a mobile or browser-based application via an Internet Telephony Service Provider (ITSP).  

Defining SIP

One of the communications protocols used to transmit VoIP calls is SIP.  Phone calls always have two endpoints, and simply put, SIP defines the messages and governs essential elements of the phone call. SIP can also enable video conferencing, media distribution, and instant messaging.

The Workings of VoIP and SIP

Simply put, SIP is the protocol and VIP is the conduit. But how do they work?

VoIP condenses audio by way a codec into data packets. After that, it compresses them across an IP network, where it de-compresses them into audio at the other end of the connection. Dedicated desktop VoIP phones, softphone applications, and mobile devices (i.e. cell phones) are typical examples of VoIP endpoints.

In the IP protocol, the IP packets move through the Internet via nodes (devices and routers discovered on the way from source to destination).

IP telephony differs from traditional telephony in the sense that in traditional telephony the line or circuit between source and destination is always dedicated and reserved (also known as circuit switching). In other words, traditional telephony tends to be more expensive because of the overhead.

If you have any questions on VoIP and SIP, or other business phone system questions, please contact us. You can also follow us on Twitter.

Top 4 Business Phone System Aggravations and How to Fix Them

Business Phone System AggravationsYour business phone system is, perhaps, your most vital communication tool. However, sometimes Business Phone System aggravations make it seem like more trouble than it’s worth. Fortunately, for each of the following Business Phone System aggravations, there is a solution.

#1. When The Phone Lines Go Down, I Have to Fix the Problem

Hosted voice solutions are delivered via the Internet, which begs a valid question: “When the Internet crashes, what happens?” Unfortunately, when the Internet is down, your phone will go dark until Internet service is restored. In this scenario, your provider will work on finding the problem and fixing it as soon as possible.

However, that doesn’t exactly answer the question of what happens with the phone lines go down? If your company has a traditional business phone system, then you are accountable for power, uptime, connectivity, vendor management, and carrier services. If the lines go down, you will be completely without service until you can take care of the problem.

The upside to hosted voice is that if your Internet crashes, while your phone will not ring at your desk, other features will remain operational due to built-in redundancy:

  • Call Routing
  • Voicemail
  • Auto-Attendant
  • Soft Phone
  • Direct Inward Dial (DID)
  • Find Me Follow Me – also known as Mobile Twinning
#2. It is Very Difficult for Employees to Make Changes, and Yet it is Our Responsibility to Make the Updates

One of the biggest problems with a traditional business phone system is that they are not easy to alter after they have been installed. The biggest reason for this is because they are proprietary—meaning they require a qualified engineer to make the necessary changes and updates. For this customer, that means that they have to pay (typically be the hour) each time the technician visits.

The great thing about hosted voice solutions is that you can make most of the basic changes or upgrades without help. Your provider should make the large changes and upgrades.

#3. Scaling your Business Phone System is Difficult

Premise-based business phone systems aren’t easy to scale. Usually modular components and software licenses are needed if you want to expand your premise-based system. This puts a business in the challenging spot of attempting to predict what kind of phone system they will need 5-10 years down the line. Not only is that risky, but you can end up purchasing equipment you don’t need.

Hosted voice solutions remove this aggravation. Adding or eliminating users and services can be done without breaking a sweat by simply telling your provider when you need the change made. They can virtually make the change and adjust your monthly cost accordingly.

#4. The Only Thing my Phone Can Do is Make Calls and Receive Voicemails

Unfortunately, most business phone systems friendly to your budget are typically lacking in features. Budget-friendly business phone systems often are only capable of receiving/making calls and getting voicemails.

Hosted voice, however, allows you a vast assortment of advanced features. Here are the most popular:

  • Voicemail to email/text
  • Caller ID business name and phone number
  • Personal Attendant and Virtual Auto Attendant
  • Find Me Follow Me: allows your desk phone to ring on 5 different devices at the same time (so wherever you are, you can receive calls made to your office)
  • Receptionist Dashboard: give your receptionist an all-encompassing view of your phone system
  • Soft Phones: no handset needed because you can make calls right from your computer or web browser
  • Move Your Phone: from desk to desk, to conference room, to home (work from anywhere)
  • Reporting: how many calls in and out; full call detail records; available at any time

Many premise-based Business Phone System aggravations are erased by a hosted voice solution, assuming it’s a good fit for your business.

If you have any questions regarding hosted voice, please contact Advanced Communication Systems today at 800-750-3624. You can also follow us on Twitter.

Cloud Hosted VoIP – Telephone Service Option

Yesterday we discussed security features within cloud hosted VoIP such as firewalls, passwords and WiFi.  Now, let’s delve into a few more important security features to consider when weighing your options of cloud hosted VoIP as a telephone service option.

DDoS

One of the worst security threats is a DDoS (or a Distributed Denial of Service). A DDoS usually comes with infected Trojans and are used to target sole systems. In terms of VoIP, a DDoS usually manifests a ‘busy signal’ on your IP business phone system. VoIP relies on continuous and reliable packet flows. When your company becomes the victim of a DDoS, availability becomes a real problem.

Fortunately, there are a few options that will help: SIP and H.323. If you have VoIP, these two protocols are great tools for guaranteeing your sensitive data will not be comprised when it is transmitted over the Internet.

 Phantom Calls

How would you feel if you got a call on your IP phone from a mysterious extension and you only heard silence when you picked up? Annoyed, right? These are called phantom calls, and alas, they can be more than just annoying if you don’t have the proper firewall set up. A true phantom call is made by a “port scan” by hackers fishing for a vulnerable phone network in which to gain access to.  As long as your firewall and firmware is kept up to date though, you should be safe.

 Is VoIP service secure?

VoIP certainly comes with its risks, but at the end of the day, if you remain vigilant in your security procedures the risk can be minimal.  Proper planning and effective security procedures ensure that IP telephony is both convenient and safe.