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Simply VoIP Frequently Asked Questions 

What is VoIP?

OK, the big question! VoIP is another of those technical acronyms; it stands for Voice over IP, or Internet Protocol. It's essentially a technology that can encode, transmit and decode regular analogue voice signals over a standard computer network. IP is simply a set of rules, a protocol, that dictates the transmission and receipt of data across an IP enabled network.

The internet runs on IP as do most modern company networks. It's what your email systems and web browsers use to transfer data. Due to advancements in transmission speeds and reliability of these networks over the years you can now use the same network to carry your phone calls as well. This can mean big savings.


What's the difference between VoIP and IPT (IP Telephony)?

Don't get confused by this. According to the ITU (International Telecommunication Union) there is a difference, but in everyday usage the terms tend to be interchangeable. IPT refers to a broad range of technologies of which VoIP is a subset that deals specifically with the encapsulation of voice signals in IP data "packets", the format suitable for transmission on a computer network.


What is a “PBX”?

A Private Branch Exchange. This is the intelligence at the heart of your phone system, it keeps track of all of the phones on your network and directs calls between them. As necessary it routes calls in and out of your links to the public phone network or PSTN.


What is the “PSTN”?

PSTN Stands for public switched telephone network. This is the network your home phone is connected to. For your internal phone system to be able to talk to the outside world it must have at least one link to the PSTN. These links can be analogue - just like the phone line most people have at home, ISDN - a typical means of business phone connectivity - or an IP link that connects to the phone service over the Internet. Typically connections to Internet PSTN links are governed by a set of rules called SIP. Simply VoIP phone systems support all three of these methods of connecting to the PSTN.


What is “SIP”?

SIP, yes another acronym, stands for session initiation protocol. This is the set of rules that govern the setup, maintenance and hangup of calls on a VoIP network. This is typically the set of rules you will use to connect to an ITSP or Internet Telephony Service Provider.


What is “ISDN”?

ISDN Stands for Integrated Services Digital Network. It’s a means to support the digital transmission of voice across traditional PSTN circuits and offers an improvement in quality over analogue lines. ISDN is available in BRI (basic rate interface) and PRI (Primary Rate Interface) presentations supporting 2 simultaneous calls or up to 30 calls respectively.


Why is it cheaper to use a SIP provider than ISDN?

Delivering an ISDN circuit to your office necessitates a physical extension of the providers network to your premises and the cost of the service reflects the provision and maintenance of this extension. When using a SIP provider you provide this means of delivering the calls to your provider over a connection to the Internet negating this overhead. This is reflected in the price.

Because SIP providers present the collective voice traffic of their clients to their PSTN providers they are able to leverage tariff savings due to economies of scale and this enables them to offer more favourable tariffs to their subscribers.

In addition SIP providers are infinitely more flexible than their ISDN provider counterparts. For example, if your business has a seasonal demand for additional inbound calls the additional channels can be turned on or off momentarily, you won’t be bound into an expensive ISDN contract that you only use one month of the year. This can represent significant savings in recurring costs. 


I've heard that the call quality can be poor on VoIP systems, is this true?

The call quality on VoIP systems is comparable to the regular phone service and is far better than the mobile phone quality that most of us are used to. It is important to understand that voice traffic on a computer network has more stringent requirements than regular data traffic like email. These requirements are accommodated using “Quality of Service” (QoS) mechanisms on the computer network to ensure prioritisation of voice traffic where contention for the network resources occur. Simply VoIP can help you evaluate your computer network for voice suitability and advise on or implement any requisite QoS configuration.


Do I need a special type of phone to use with a VoIP system?

It is possible to use a standard analogue phone with a VoIP system using a device called an “ATA – or Analogue Telephone Adapter”. Given the comparative cost of an ATA and a standard SIP telephone it makes sense to use IP enabled handsets with a VoIP system to leverage all of the flexibility and productivity benefits your VoIP system offers. Good quality handsets start at around £65 each, software phones can also be used on your PC with a headset attached to your PC’s audio card. A software phone package for PC & MAC clients is supplied free of charge with Simply VoIP systems.

Simply VoIP systems will support any IP handset that supports the SIP protocol (basically all of them!). We will never lock you into a single supplier which means you can shop around for the best deal.


I've been offered an Analogue PBX system and it's cheaper than a VoIP equivalent, why should I bother using VoIP?

With increasing uptake of VoIP equipment in business, traditional PBX systems are increasingly attractively priced and it is tempting to stick with the traditional model on the basis of upfront costs. What should be considered is the total cost of ownership of the phone system over its lifetime.

As an example, consider the requirement to add a new handset to a proprietary analogue PBX system for a new member of staff. You are required to buy a phone that the PBX will support, usually from the PBX manufacturer, book an engineer to install the phone, cable it to the PBX and make the requisite programming changes to the PBX dial plan. Some of our customers have been paying up to £500 to deploy a single handset on their system and waiting a week for the engineer to do the work. With a Simply Voip system if you want to add a handset you just need to enter a unique identifier into a web form, plug the phone into an existing network port (it will share this port with your PC) and that’s it. It’s now registered on the system and ready to use! How does this compare in terms of cost and inconvenience?

As a broad illustration, a company that expands its staff headcount by 10 people over 3 years could make savings of over £4000 in this comparison on phone deployment alone.


Who will support my Simply VoIP system?

Simply VoIP we hope! But you’re not stuck with us if it proves inconvenient. All of our systems are based on widely supported Open Source software and are developed strictly in adherence to open communications standards. This means you are always free to shop around for the best deal. You’ll stick with Simply VoIP because you want, rather than need, to!


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