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Getting the most of VoIP for your business
Written by Rowan Govender
24 September 2012

Voice over IP. It's a term you may have heard being used, but what exactly does it mean?  Voice over IP, or Voice over Internet Protocol, refers to the technology used to transmit voice communications over the internet. A Voice over IP (VoIP) call can be made using a variety of different solutions, such as a telephone connected to an analog telephone adapter or specialised router, or a microphone connected to a computer with the correct software.

When VoIP was first introduced it didn't offer the same level of quality compared to a traditional phone service, but as VoIP and broadband technologies have advanced, so has VoIP's service quality. 

VOIP - a cheaper service

As VoIP has developed, it also began to offer many benefits over traditional phone calls. The main benefit VoIP offers is significantly reduced costs. The cost of a VoIP call to a phone that isn't part of a VoIP network is usually far cheaper than calling from an ordinary or mobile phone. Any VoIP call that's made to another VoIP user on the same network is free. VoIP also allows you to easily set up and use a variety of additional services such as conference calls and video chat.

Benefits for the business owner

So VoIP offers many benefits over a traditional phone service, but how is this applicable to a business owner?

Say for example your business has various branches. A VoIP solution can be setup alongside, or even replace, a standard telephone system. After the initial cost of setting up VoIP hardware and software has been taken into account, the connected branches would be able to use VoIP to communicate for free. Also, once the hardware and software is in place, business owners can use VoIP to drastically decrease the amount of money you spend on local, national, and international calls to non-VoIP phones by taking advantage of a VoIP provider's cheaper rates. The website Which VoIP covers many dedicated South African VoIP services, such as Bitco or Centracom, that offer a variety of VoIP solutions. In addition, you can also access the information for many South African Internet Service Providers, such as Mweb or Internet Solutions,  that also provide VoIP services.

Skype - for effective communication

But perhaps your VoIP needs aren't that great, and you don't need a service with expensive hardware or 24 hour support. Which option could you use then?

In this case, it would be best to use a PC software solution to meet your VoIP needs. The best application to make VoIP calls is Skype. Skype was originally created by two Swedish software developers, but was recently bought out by Microsoft. Considering it's now a Microsoft product, you'd expect to pay for the application itself. Thankfully, this isn't the case. Skype can still be downloaded for free from its homepage.

Skype supports a huge variety of hardware platforms, including PC, mobile and even specific televisions. Skype also supports many different software platforms, such as Android, Linux, or Windows, depending on the hardware that you use.

Once it's installed, Skype let's you make free voice or video calls to other Skype users. It also gives you access to a variety of other services including calls to mobile and landline numbers, voicemail, and sms, all at a reduced cost when compared to traditional telecoms service providers. Most people now use Skype and it’s a convenient  way to conduct interviews and hold meetings.

VoIP is a flexible and invaluable tool that can be integrated into your business to lower costs. It can also improve your company's communication channels by making sure it's accessible on as many different hardware devices as possible, and by using additional services such as video chat.


Picture credit: www.velocityvoip.com

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