Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) refers to using the Internet to transmit real time voice communication instead of copper lines that traditional phones and phone systems have used since the invention of the telephone. VoIP was invented in 1995 in Israel, but not popularized until the turn of the millennium. The main reasons that VoIP has become the preferred means of communication are 1) lowering costs/increasing efficiency and 2) providing additional features.
A common misconception is that VoIP is an unproven technology. The fact is that the vast majority of telephone carriers in the world such as AT&T, Sprint and Verizon use VoIP in their switching infrastructure, so every call made is actually a VoIP call, even if made on antiquated rotary phones.
Another misconception about VoIP is that the sound quality is poor. This is perpetuated by low quality VoIP providers that cut corners or lack the expertise in delivering a business-grade solution. When implemented properly, VoIP sound quality is superior to copper lines. Quality providers have sophisticated devices that constantly track factors that could affect sound quality during calls. High Definition (HD) phones provide a sound quality that is so clear, you might think the person you’re talking to is actually in the same room. Read more about HD audio here.
VoIP can be used in conjunction with a premise-based phone system (PBX or key system), or with a hosted solution. Both solutions offer distinct advantages in different scenarios. Most decision makers focus on purchase price and monthly costs when considering a new system, but it is critical to consider factors such as scalability, disaster recovery, feature integration, and technology refresh as well.