By now, you’ve heard the term used more than just a few times; the cloud is simply another word to describe the Internet. A cloud-based phone system, in its most basic sense, is a phone system that sends and receives calls through the Internet. What does that mean for you? If you’re running a business, it means you can save money because there’s no need for on-site hardware and your maintenance and installation costs are eliminated. There are also loads of additional advantages that come with cloud-based systems and it can be helpful to know how they work to appreciate everything they can do for you.
How Do They Work?
A cloud-based phone system is also called a VoIP system, which characterizes it as a Voice over Internet Protocol communication system. VoIP technology enables calls to be sent and received through a broadband internet connection instead of relying on regular telephone lines. Cloud VoIP providers supply the send-and-receive service that converts your voice calls into the digital signals that travel over the Internet. When your call reaches a number that isn’t part of a VoIP phone system, it’s converted into a regular analog telephone signal.
When your outgoing voice call is transformed into a digital signal, it’s broken down into data packets which bypass the regular copper land-line telephone cables. Because these traditional transmission routes are bypassed, long-distance calls cost less. When you call someone who only has a regular analog phone service, that person requires no special equipment to receive your call. In many cases, there is noticeable improvement in sound quality. Other than the likelihood of improved audio quality, the individual picking up your call won’t notice anything to distinguish it as a VoIP call.
How Do Phones Connect to a VoIP System?
In order to enable VoIP calling, you need a broadband internet connection. Your connection to the internet can be through a local area network, cable modem or a high-speed service such as DSL. The call can be made through a specialized desk or wireless IP phone, your computer or any standard telephone connected to an analog telephone adaptor. An ATA connects regular analog telephones and fax machines to a cloud-based system. ATAs typically connect to the broadband Internet through standard Ethernet connectors, but may also use a computer and a USB port. ATA devices are not, however, dependent upon a computer connection; no additional hardware is required to hook-up a standard phone or fax machine to a cloud-based system. The ATA provides regular phone devices with a dial tone, caller ID features and DC power.
You can also make VoIP calls through your computer, laptop or tablet by attaching an inexpensive microphone or head set and running software typically described as a softphone app. Incoming calls can be set to ring simultaneously across several devices, both fixed and mobile, or they can ring one after another in an order of your choosing. This can help ensure that you never miss a call regardless of where you may be.
How Can a VoIP System Outperform a Regular Phone System?
A VoIP system in either a small business or a large corporate setting provides all the features that can be found in a regular analog system, but with increased flexibility and much greater capabilities. Because voice transmissions are being converted to digital signals, they can be managed, processed and programmed in virtually the same manner as any other form of computer data. This introduces new features and increased operational adaptability. The new system options can also be managed and customized through the VoIP provider rather than requiring an in-house IT specialist.
Some of the additional capabilities that a cloud-based system can offer include the following:
- Enhanced collaborative tools and video conferencing
- Remote capabilities that make it easy to onboard new telecommuters
- Programmable on-hold music and messages
- Converting voice calls to text and recording calls for later review or training purposes
- Web-based system management accessible from a mobile device
- On-site and remote set-up of ring groups, device sequences and call forwarding
Not all cloud IP providers offer the same feature sets. Your business will be best served by a provider who can customize your VoIP service to meet your company’s specific needs. Portland Broadband offers no-obligation and no-fee consultations that can line-up your business with the cloud-based phone system that best meets your needs while also saving you money. Contact us today to learn more.