There is no doubt that VoIP is growing in popularity. Many have hailed it as the future of telecoms and all kinds of businesses are discovering that VoIP not only delivers cheaper connections, but that it opens up global communications in a way that can revolutionise the reach of a company. As the technology continues to evolve, enterprises of different sizes can benefit from the combination of data and voice capability. Moreover, they can take advantage of all the innovative features that their VoIP provider can supply, in addition to hosting the service and keeping it updated and running smoothly.

PSTN for voice is doomed

BT has announced that it intends to close down its PSTN (public switched telephone network) legacy lines over the next few years. The telecoms provider has indicated that by 2025 all its landline customers will be moved onto IP networks. The model for the PSTN network was developed in the 19th century, and it works by sending voice data in analogue form over copper wires. While BT will discontinue the voice element of PSTN, its ADSL (asymmetric digital subscriber line) and FTTC (Fibre To The Cabinet) functions will continue as before.

ISDN (Integrated Services Digital Network), a system for transmitting digital data and voice over copper phone lines, is considered to be outdated technology. Indeed, in some parts of the world it never caught on at all. BT says that it intends to halt the sale of ISDN and PSTN services by 2020, giving the provider around five years to get customers switched to IP services.

The future is calling

With VoIP, users can make calls via the internet, with the analogue signals being converted into digital signals that are transmitted as data packets. There is no need for a traditional analogue phone line. Advantages of VoIP include low-cost calls, its enormous flexibility and the ability to add new lines at any time.

To use VoIP, a business will need an internet connection that has plenty of bandwidth to accommodate voice calls and a telephone system that supports VoIP. This would mean setting up the relevant hardware, or choosing a hosted VoIP solution from a specialist such as IDT. A hosted solution can offer great rates and is extremely convenient for companies that are moving, or establishing a new office.

Investment in infrastructure is minimal with VoIP and it gives staff great flexibility. Even if they are stuck at home due to extreme weather, they can log in to the system and have their calls diverted. A hosted VoIP service “lives” in the cloud and can be accessed wherever the user happens to be.

It has been estimated that between 2012 and 2020 the VOIP market will grow from just over $43 billion in global revenue to international revenues of almost double that at just over $86 billion. Plus there are likely to be an estimated 205 billion corporate users by 2020, so VoIP is most definitely gaining traction.

Business users of VoIP are a significant force in driving the market. Globally, the VoIP industry is expected to expand at a rate of 9.1 per cent CAGR between 2016 and 2021.

Innovative technology

SIP (or Session Initiation Protocol) trunking is a popular protocol for VoIP that gives multimedia functionality and is the most commonly used system on IP networks. It is predicted to supplant PSTN phone lines, linking PABX telephone systems to mobile, national and international networks. SIP is very versatile and can carry out all the functionality that is part of traditional phone lines, such as call forwarding, call holding and call transfers. In addition, users can join or leave calls at any time, and video connections can be initiated and terminated at any point.

SIP trunking providers generally work in a similar way to the traditional telecoms providers by leasing numbers and lines to their users. However, there is no requirement for physical hardware to be installed or maintained and the charges for calls are significantly lower. Connections are made using a line for SIP trunking only, combining SIP trunking with other IP functions on a dedicated line, or using a VPN (Virtual Private Network) on the internet. With SIP trunking, the business only pays for the lines that it requires, and with scalability, there is the provision to deal with call volumes increasing. Capacity can also be shared over a number of sites.

Telecoms technology is moving fast. It seems only moments ago that VoIP was a revolutionary new way of communicating. Some of us are using it now without even realising it, as for example, Facebook included free VoIP calls in its Messenger service in 2014. Legacy networks are becoming a thing of the past as the move continues to networks moving data in packets. VoIP is clearly here to stay.