From the time of the first telephones appearing around the 1870s, the technology of transmitting voice signals from point to point between two sets hadn’t really changed very much until relatively recently with VoIP services.

Digital technology has made exchanges more efficient and calls clearer, but the underlying idea remained the same. In the 1990s, however, the first software to allow calls to be made over the internet appeared. But since most people still had relatively slow dial-up connections at that time, the new Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) technology didn’t find too many customers.

The picture began to change as the 2000s progressed, with fast, reliable broadband connections available to more and more people. This meant that services such as Skype gained in popularity, allowing computer-to-computer calls to anywhere in the world to be made for free and calls to conventional PSTN telephones to be made at a cheaper rate than through the traditional phone network.

Business use

While VoIP started out being used by individuals, businesses have been quick to see the potential. With companies such as IDT offering high-quality voice services, firms that make a lot of calls can benefit from the lower costs that VoIP calling offers.

As more companies have begun offering VoIP services, so greater competition has kept prices low, thereby making it a still more attractive proposition. In addition, it’s no longer the case that you need a computer and a headset to make use of VoIP. Handsets are available that allow you to use IP services in the same way as a normal phone. Some handsets even accommodate both services so that you can benefit from the advantages of both systems.

VoIP systems also allow you to take advantage of features that would previously only have been available on premium PABX systems. These include functionality such as voicemail, conference calling and grouping of extensions.

Because your telephone system becomes cloud-based with VoIP, this enables branch offices and home workers to share the same facilities as those in your main office. Your business mobiles can also be linked to VoIP, allowing field-based staff to make and receive calls as though they were in the office, again making substantial savings on call costs.

Additional features

Using VoIP-based telephony also gives you some extra features that are not practical – or are difficult and costly – to achieve using a more conventional system. These include video conferencing which many businesses are now using in order to reduce their travel costs and to allow teams to collaborate wherever they are located.

There are benefits in terms of security too. Technologies including IPsec and encryption can be used to protect voice traffic and keep it safe from eavesdropping.

This combination of technological solutions and the attraction of low pricing, plus the greater availability of reliable, fast internet connections, have all contributed to the rise in VoIP use in recent years. Its impact has been such that it is now becoming the norm for many businesses that operate call centres or which have multiple locations that need seamless communications.