Products
Get the leading all-in-one solution or just what you need.
Solutions
The all-in-one solution built for every business.
RingCentral Office All-in-one phone, meetings and messaging.
Meetings The complete video meetings solution.
Contact Centre Omnichannel collaborative contact centre.
Glip Team messaging and collaboration.
Engage Digital customer engagement platform.
Developer Integrate voice and messaging.
Why RingCentral
Why do over 350,000 businesses trust RingCentral?
Resources
Case Studies
Blogs
About us
The number one cloud communications provider worldwide.
About us
Careers
Contact us
Solutions
The all-in-one solution built for every business.
Why RingCentral
Why do so many global enterprises trust RingCentral?
Business needs
Industry
Technology
Partner program
Integrations
Apps and APIs
Products
Get the leading all-in-one solution or just what you need.
Why RingCentral
Why do so many global enterprises trust RingCentral?
RingCentral Office All-in-one phone, meetings and messaging.
Meetings The complete video meetings solution.
Engage Digital customer engagement platform.
Developer Integrate voice and messaging.
Why RingCentral
Why do so many global enterprises trust RingCentral?
Resources
Case studies
Blogs
About us
The number one cloud communications provider worldwide.
About us
Careers
Contact us

RINGCENTRAL OFFICE

VoIP

The Definitive Guide

What is VoIP?

VoIP stands for Voice over Internet Protocol. It is also referred to as IP telephony, internet telephony, or internet calling. Those technical terms make things seem very complicated. In reality, VoIP is not complicated.

At the simplest level, VoIP is a way of transmitting voice calls over IP networks. It is a means of making phone calls using an internet connection, rather than making a call using a regular phone line. The recent advancements and improvements in VoIP are fast making it the standard means of communication for businesses that want a reliable and future-proof means of communication. Modern, top-level VoIP is now consistent and dependable.

What VoIP represents is a cheaper and hassle-free telecoms option to suit all types of firm. Adopting VoIP allows a business to reduce or remove a variety of costs that are associated with traditional communications. Call charges are often much lower, and firms don't need to pay for multiple phone lines or loads of hardware. 

VoIP is a communications option that you can't afford to overlook. Before you go any further, though, you'll rightly want to know exactly how it all works. Let's unpack how VoIP works and try to cut through some of the mind-bending jargon involved.

See it in action

How Does VoIP Work?

With a regular phone call a specific physical path is provided by a phone company. That path goes between yourself and the number that you call. That system also utilises the traditional telephony infrastructure, which means the network of phone lines crossing the country.

With VoIP, calls are transmitted differently. The audio at your end of a call (your voice) is converted into digital packets. It's easiest to think of them as being like envelopes of data. In the same way as traditional envelopes contain what you've written.

The conversion of audio voice signals into digital packets is handled by what is known as 'codecs'. Codecs can be either hardware devices or software-based processes. They compress the voice signals and then encode them as digital data. To continue our analogy, they take what you say and pop it into the digital envelopes.

The data packets are then transmitted via IP. This can be either across a Local Area Network (LAN) or online. They're often transmitted via the Real-Time Transport Protocol (RTP). Or, if not, via the Secure Real-Time Transport Protocol. The latter is simply an encrypted version of the former. This stage of the process is like a postman picking up your envelopes and taking them to the destination.

The data packets reach their destination almost instantly. They then need to be decoded and decompressed. This is handled by codecs. They take the digital data and convert it back to audio signals. The recipient of your call heard your voice as they would down a normal phone line. The codecs at their end of the transmission open the envelopes for them to read. 

Away from the technicalities, the process of making a VoIP call doesn't have to be much different to a standard phone call. To make the calls, you can either use hardware or a software-based VoIP phone.

The former is very much like a traditional desk phone. It will look almost identical and can be used in all the same ways. That doesn't only mean making calls. Most VoIP phones also let you use voicemail, make internal calls, and do call transfer tasks. If no one told you, you might not know you weren't using a regular phone.

Software-based VoIP phones are often called 'softphones'. They're apps or programs installed on a mobile device or computer. The interfaces of those apps or programs replace a traditional phone handset. They're often designed to look similar and can be used either via a touchscreen or keyboard. Calls through these VoIP phones typically use a headset and microphone. They can also use a computer's built-in microphone and speakers.

VoIP Top Technical Terms

If you do look to update your communications system, you’ll be faced with a mountain of jargon. Telecoms is a technical field, and as such it has its own lexicon. You might even have spotted a few technical terms in this guide already. To make sure you know where you stand, let’s define and explain as many as we can.

The following glossary covers the most common words, acronyms, and phrases you may come across. It is related both to VoIP and to the traditional alternatives which it can replace.

Bandwidth

The capacity of a network to transmit data from one point to another in a given time period. It is often measured in 1000 bits per second (kbps). The higher the amount of available bandwidth, the more VoIP calls a network can support. If your internet connection has very limited bandwidth, the quality of a VoIP call will be lower.

Codecs

Codecs can be either hardware devices or software-based processes. They’re used to compress, encode and decompress data. In the case of VoIP, codecs convert audio voice signals into digital data packets. They then compress the data for transmission and re-convert it at the ‘other end’ of a call.

DSL

DSL stands for ‘Digital Subscriber Line’. It refers to the traditional phone technology that lets a broadband connection be carried over existing phone lines. All the while still allowing analog phone signals to travel along the same copper lines.

IP

IP is an acronym which is short for Internet Protocol. The IP provides a standard set of rules for transmitting and receiving data online. The standardised rules let devices running on different platforms communicate with one another. The IP also provides basic rules for transmitting packets of data. It does not establish the connection for doing so or order the packets being transmitted. That’s handled by transmission or transport protocols.

IVR

IVR or Interactive Voice Response is a feature of traditional telephony. It’s the interactive service that lets callers use menus and handles call transfers. Think ‘press one for the accounts department’ etc.

 

Latency

The time taken for the transmission of data. The higher the latency, the greater the delay between the start of a transmission and data being received at the other end. High latency can be an issue for VoIP. Voice delay is noticeable with a latency above around 150 milliseconds. Considerably more than that and a conversation will be difficult.

PBX

PBX stands for Private Branch Exchange. It’s the name given to a private telephone network used within a business or organisation. It’s your PBX which lets you press a button on a desk phone to reach someone else in your office.

RTP

The Real Time Transport Protocol. An internet protocol that often transmits the data packets related to VoIP calls. It also carried audio or video streams for other forms of multimedia communication. 

 

Secure Real Time Transport Protocol

The encrypted (and so, secure) variant of the RTP. 

SIP Trunking

A way of delivering voice communication over the internet. It’s in many ways an alternative to VoIP. It typically involves connecting a PBX to the internet. This gives added control to a user but does require a fair bit more equipment to get up and running than VoIP.

Softphone

The name given to software or apps used to make VoIP calls. In the case that you use your computer or tablet and not a VoIP phone. Most ‘softphones’ have an interface that looks like a phone handset when it appears on your screen. It will have a keypad, display and be workable via touchscreen or computer keyboard.

VoIP

Voice over Internet Protocol is the technology that lets you make voice calls via an internet connection. Audio is repackaged as digital data and transmitted to its destination almost instantly. It’s becoming a new communications standard for firms of all shapes and sizes.

VoIP Advantages

VoIP Examples

The many advantages detailed above are what persuade many firms to adopt VoIP. There are two ways in which to do so and then two main types of setup that can be used within an office. The initial choice a firm must make is whether to go for a cloud-based system or keep things in-house.

With the cloud-based option, you pay a monthly fee and download an app or some software to get the system up and running. Additional technical tasks are handled by your provider at their server farm.

Some firms feel they want greater control over their VoIP system. They keep all related physical servers on-site in order to get that control. That means they also incur higher costs. They need more hardware, have to maintain it, and are in charge of their own tech support.

Whether you opt for cloud-based adoption or otherwise, there are two types of VoIP setup to choose from.  

VoIP Phone Through Computer

The first option for any firm is to handle their VoIP calls through office computers. You can turn any computer into a VoIP phone through the download of some simple software. That software is often referred to as a softphone.

Every softphone is different, but their appearance is fairly similar. They’re often designed with an interface which resembles a traditional phone handset. When a user opens the softphone, they’ll see a representation of a keypad and screen. They’ll then be able to use the interface just like a phone, usually with the help of a headset and microphone.

VoIP Phone

The second VoIP option is even simpler. VoIP phones can be installed in an office, in the same way as traditional desk phones. The phones look almost exactly the same as those standard desk phones. The only difference is how they're connected with most being linked up by just a single Ethernet connection.

A VoIP phone can be used in the same way as any office phone. That includes the ability to use voicemail and other similar features. In terms of operation, a VoIP phone works just like any other. A user who doesn’t know about the technology behind it, may not realise there’s anything different.  

“RingCentral is just easy, easy, easy. I think I had 95% of the system for our entire company set up in about 10 minutes.”
— James Trazzera,
General Manager, Intranet Technica
product-cloud-PBX-white Created with Sketch.

How to Switch to VoIP

That’s everything you need to know about VoIP. It’s a technological advance that’s changing the face of commercial telecoms. With VoIP, firms are now able to make and receive voice calls using their internet connection.

Being able to make calls that way delivers a raft of potential benefits. Businesses can drastically reduce costs in a variety of areas. Initial hardware and setup expenses are often much lower. Call charges, too, can be a lot lower. That’s in addition to the added accessibility and agility which a VoIP system provides.

All of that may have been enough to convince you that VoIP is the way to go. If so, you’ll be wondering how to switch to the more modern system. Another advantage of VoIP is that it’s easy to do so. Your first step is always to contact a trustworthy provider who can talk you through the rest of the process.

From there, you to decide whether to go with cloud-based or physical server setup. Then, you must choose if you want VoIP phones or software-based VoIP calls using your office computers. Whatever your decision, the setup process is much simpler and swifter than setting up a traditional system.  

VoIP Frequently Asked Questions

Is my Business Eligible for VoIP?

  • There are no real minimum technical requirements to adopt VoIP. If your premises have an internet connection, you’ll be able to switch to VoIP. It will help if that internet connection has higher bandwidth and lower latency. That way, call quality will be higher.
  • Do I Have to Change my Number?

  • Most VoIP providers allow you to keep your existing number when you switch. One of the critical advantages of VoIP, too, is that you can make and receive calls using the same phone number from multiple locations.
  • Will I Need to Change my Handsets?

  • If you’re going to use physical handsets for VoIP calls, they have to be compatible with the technology. It’s not a given that your current handsets won’t be. If you find that they’re not, however, you will need new ones.
  • How’s the Quality of VoIP Calls?

  • Quality of service delivered by VoIP has improved massively in recent years. In many cases, VoIP calls sound just like traditional phone calls. The only thing that does have a big impact on quality is the standard of your internet connection. You can suffer call breakup and lower voice quality if the latency of your connection is high..
  • Is VoIP as Reliable as a Traditional System?

  • Yes. In fact, in many ways, VoIP is more reliable – as long as your internet connection is stable. Traditional telephony systems can be easily compromised by damage to phone lines and other elements outside of your control.
  • What do I Have to do to Make a VoIP Call?

  • To the actual caller and the recipient, a VoIP call is just like a normal call. You don’t have to do anything different to make calls. If you use physical VoIP phones, a caller may not even know they’re not making a normal call.
  • Related features

    See how it works for your business

    A sales advisor will contact you for a personalised, informative demo on the key features and benefits of a cloud phone system.

    Call us today (800) 574 5290

    Thank you for your interest in RingCentral

    A sales advisor will contact you within 24 hours. If you’d like to speak to someone now, please call  1800 200 335.

    Close X
    Please wait
    while we try to connect you with a sales agent
    Sorry, we are currently offline

    Leave a message

    Please fill out the form to help us get you to the right sales agent within 24 hours.

    By clicking the button above, you consent to receive calls and emails from RingCentral at the number provided. You are not required to give consent in order to make a purchase. Calls may be connected using automated technology.

    Thank you for your interest in RingCentral

    A solutions specialist will contact you within 24 hours. If you'd like to speak with someone now, please call  877-857-9206.