Basics of a VoIP phone
VoIP phones act and look like regular analog phones. But they aren't.
VoIP phones transfer voice data over the Internet. VoIP phones also use the local area network (also known as a LAN) of a business to call between phones; VoIP phones can also use the Internet to connect the PSTN with the help of a VoIP service provider.
VoIP phones can perform a lot of features, depending on how sophisticated your specific IP phone is. These features are common on VoIP phones:
- Caller ID: See the caller's number and (in some cases) name before picking up the phone
- Call Management: Transfer, hold, forward calls, and more
- Call Conferencing: Talk to two or more people in the same call
- Call Park: Put a call on hold and then take the call with another telephone
The features available on a VoIP phone are dependent on what kind of VoIP phone you get, as well as what features you actually need.
Business IP Phones
Business IP phones offer the basic features that a business needs.
Business IP phones range in price. Inexpensive IP phones lack many of the bonus features and perks that some high-use callers need for their business. Expensive VoIP phones may have photo caller ID and address books that you can manage with an on-phone keyboard.
Business IP phones have:
- 2 or more lines
- Ethernet ports
Business IP phones also have a lot built-in features, too. The two most common business IP phone brands are Polycom and Cisco.
Usually business phones are corded phones.
Wireless VoIP Phones
Wireless VoIP phones have similar features to typical IP phones. Predictably unlike Business VoIP phones, Wireless VoIP phones don’t have wires.
Wireless VoIP phones are typically supported with a wireless internet network, and come with a stand where the phone is charged.
Conference IP Phones
Conference IP phones are an important tool for businesses that need to keep everyone in contact for big discussions. Conference IP phones feature full duplex audio -- this means that multiple people talking at once will not screw up the call.
Conference IP phones also come with features used to moderate conference calls, such as mute buttons for certain lines.
These phones are very expensive but are an important tool. Often, conference IP phones come with extended warranties and extra speakers so you can use them further.
Video IP Phones
Video IP phones allow for 2-way communication that includes an important and more personal feature: callers can see the other person on the line.
Video IP phones are capable of full duplex audio and video transmission through the Internet. The result is clear picture and a clear call over the Internet.
Not every business phone system will support the codecs (codecs are the equipment that encodes and decodes VoIP phone transmissions) required for use of the face-to-face video of a video IP phone, so check with your VoIP service provider or your company whether or not the phone system you are using will support video calls.
USB phones and softphones use your computer in order to make VoIP calls to other people.
A USB phone is a phone that you plug into your computer's USB port in order to use. A softphone is a software application that can act like a phone on your computer; it can also use a USB phone.
USB phones and softphones are popular and inexpensive ways to get IP phone-quality features for a very low price. They’re great for businesses looking to cut back on hardware costs; however, they may not be as durable as business VoIP phones.
Softphones and USB phones may not be able to do as many things as an IP phone or Wireless VoIP phone.
VoIP Phones: The Essential Tool of VoIP
VoIP phones are a key tool for the use of your VoIP service.
VoIP phones range in price, from the very affordable computer-based or software-based phones, to the expensive but sophisticated conference IP phones. Each have their advantages and their uses (see above or read about the individual phones to learn more details).