Traditionally we have been used to using either a land line telephone or in more recent years a mobile telephone to make and receive calls but the Internet Phone Service is a new concept for lots of people.
Despite the great deals that are always available on both of those systems, phone calls are still expensive – especially if you make a lot of national or perhaps even international calls.
Aside from the costs involved, the cheaper option (land line) is almost always inconvenient – as you are tied to one location, and mobile phones are sometimes annoying because of signal issues, and are also much more expensive overall.
Internet phone service providers are bringing in a new way of making and receiving calls – using the Internet as your connection medium, sometimes referred to as “over the top” because of the way the phone signal is using a pre-existing communication infrastructure (the Internet) to send the phone call over.
This is great for retail users because its often cheaper than making a traditional phone call, but its also great for businesses because it offers so much more flexibility and functionality.
How traditional phone systems work
A traditional land line telephone system will take your voice input and send it down a copper phone line (also known as twisted pair) and this is a slow and expensive method of transit. Its interesting to note that although this is the primary means of local call transfer, calls can still be part routed by other means – such as over “the Internet” but this route choice is managed by your telephone provider.
Mobile phone calls and encrypted and sent wireless over the mobile phone providers own proprietary networks – thats part of the reason why mobile calls are expensive, and especially calls from land lines to mobiles are expensive, because your land line telephone provider is ultimately paying the mobile network to transmit the call over their infrastructure.
How an Internet phone service works
An Internet phone service will typically encode your conversation into digital format and send it directly over the Internet to the person at the other end – if they are also using an Internet phone it makes this very straight forward, and in theory doesn’t have to cost anything – other than what you already pay for your Internet. If you are calling to a land line or mobile phone, then the “last leg” of that journey will run over the land line or phone providers network, and for this there is likely to be a cost, but it will be much lower than a standard call charge because only a small percentage of the journey is taken over third party networks.
The benefits of Internet phone Service
There are lots and lots of benefits of this VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) technology, one of the main ones being cost – companies such as Skype provide calls between customers totally free of charge – so if you and a friend both have skype, you can call each other all day long and it wont cost you a penny. Of course they have call plans for land line and mobile calls which do cost money.
Another advantage is long distance and international calling – which will be much cheaper than using a traditional phone system – because once again the communication can be sent over the Internet (which is free) and then just do the last part over a third party network.
Aside from cost, the main functionality of Internet phone services over traditional phone service is functionality – having an Internet based phone system normally means that you are connected to a computer in some form or other, and of course you are connected to the Internet by the nature of the system – this means that you can easily link in to other services and products that you normally take for granted – it makes voice mail handling, call routing and recording a much more feature rich experience as follows:
- Voicemail – Traditionally your voice mail would be held on your phone providers system and you would need to call up and “pick the messages up” from them, or perhaps you would have a physical voicemail machine that you need to be in front of to check your messages. Whereas with an Internet phone provider you normally have many more options – you can pick your messages up from anywhere with Internet access, you can often even get the voicemail messages emailed directly to you.
- Call forwarding – a feature thats great on most Internet phone systems is call forwarding – more often than not you can easily set up call forwarded at the click of a button – going out for the day, no problem, just have your calls forwarded to your mobile phone – Some providers, such as Synety even have the facility to forward calls around a pre-defined schedule.
Different types of Internet phone service
There are many Internet phone service providers, and many different types of service – and also types of service delivery, the main types of Internet phone providers you tend to find are either primarily Internet based services that are built specifically for making calls between users – Viber is a good example of this – they offer a mobile phone “App” that can be used to make free calls between users.
the other type will be an Internet phone provider that offers Internet to land line and mobile calls – Skype for example specialize in this and have call plans available for local, national and international calling as well as skype to mobile calls.
VOIP For business
VOIP also plays a very big part in modern business and the advantages it offers are tremendous. Synety for example offer a feature rich API system whereby businesses can integrate their telephone system into their existing CRM (Customer relationship management) software – so as a basic example, when a business using Synety receives a call over their telephone system, the software on their computer will see the call coming in, check the phone number against their customer database and then bring up that customers full information before the employee has even answered the phone – you can see the massive advantage this has for the business allowing them to be much more efficient and pro-active towards that customer, and also enabling them to provide a much higher level of customer service at the same time.
In addition to these strategic advantages, having an internet phone system in your business also means that you can take advantage of Multi-Geographic contact numbers – for example you may have an office in one location but serve customers in many locations; with an Internet phone provider you can have a localized contact number for each of the areas you operate in – all calling to the same physical location, but giving all of your customers a much more personal/local feel as well as keeping the call costs for them local (Or free if you opt for a toll free number as well).
Top 10 Internet phone service providers
The top 5 phone providers in the market are listed below (In no particular order), coming soon will be a feature and cost comparison of them all.