Looking for a VoIP-based telecommunication solution for your business? Talk to us!
VoIP is a technology that enables voice calls to be carried over the Internet, rather than the traditional telephone landline system (the Public Switched Telephone Network, or PSTN).
The most popular advantage of VoIP over traditional phones is that calls can be extremely cheap or even free to anywhere in the world. Open source VoIP, in particular, provides organisations with an inexpensive, customisable telecommunication solution.
A Web-based phone call just requires VoIP software and a broadband connection to the Internet. The software handles the call routing to make sure the call reaches the intended destination as well as providing the codec.
The basic process involved in a VoIP call is:
- Conversion of the caller’s voice into a digital format
- Compression and translation of the digital signal into discrete Internet Protocol packets
- Transmission of the packets over the Internet or other IP-based network
- Conversion of data back into sound on the receiving device.
Because of the technology used, VoIP is more significant than just its ability to provide low cost phone calls - it actually represents a major change in telecommunications.
VoIP transmits voice as digitised packets over the Internet, and this gives it the potential to converge with other digital technologies to provide services and applications not possible with traditional phone technology.
- You can use your VoIP system anywhere - as long as you have access to a broadband connection;
- Talk on your laptop using a headphone/microphone unit connected to your computer;
- Get voice mail and faxes forwarded to your regular e-mail inbox;
- Get virtual phone numbers with a postcode that's relevant to your business, free from the physical location of your office as Internet phones work independent of any local exchange;
- Configure the system to simultaneously ring on multiple devices, such as your mobile and landline phones, before going to voice mail, so increasing productivity. This is great for small businesses as a call to your main number rings on all of your employees' phones, even if some of them are not Internet phones.
VoIP also offers great integration with computers. For example, some systems have the potential to translate a voicemail into text and send via email to your in-box and let you dial phone numbers directly from Outlook.
A significant advantage to smaller business users of VoIP Integration is the ability of setting up a virtual phone system that functions like a phone system used by a corporation with dozens of worldwide offices.
An off-the-shelf VoIP system for a business with few employees is fairly straightforward to implement. However, a larger VoIP system may work best if installed and configured by a VoIP expert, as the adoption of VoIP is not without complications.
Unlike the traditional PSTN telephone which has had time to develop a robust infrastructure, VoIP has a fledgling architecture that is built on inherently less reliable data networks. For this reason it’s important to make sure VoIP Integration works well with your existing services and applications.
At Blueberry, we’ve been using the Asterisk and Switchvox phone systems, as well as Cisco CME, but have also been testing the scope of FreeSwitch as an alternative. FreeSwitch and Asterisk are both Open Source telephony platforms. The ability to modify the code makes these Open Source toolkits quite attractive to software developers for use in customisation projects.
How does FreeSwitch compare to Asterisk?
FreeSwitch can scale from a soft-phone up to a soft-switch. It can be used as a simple switching engine, a PBX, a media gateway or a media server to host IVR (Interactive Voice Response) applications using simple scripts or XML to control the call flow. It’s also better at call monitoring and call parking, offering these features straight out of the box. Both FreeSwitch and Asterisk deliver voicemails as email attachments, but only FreeSwitch supports wav and mp3 formats (this could be important if you use iPhones or BlackBerrys, each requiring a different file format).
Blueberry has strong skills in VoIP implementation, with the experience and expertise to design a complete solution that integrates well with the needs of your business and your field staff.