VoIP Phone System or Fixed Line System?

A Guide To Hosted VoIP Phone Systems

Phone systems go by many names and type, the most commonly referred to are ISDN2, ISDN30, Analogue phone systems such as Panasonic, and then there are VoIP phone systems. These systems make their phone calls over the internet by routing the call from an IP phone, down an Ethernet cable, then from your router via the public exchange network (in some parts, but we’ll come to that).

In 2013 – Q2 2014, VoIP phone systems have been the most popular service for businesses looking to improve how they communicate (upgrading) and new businesses looking to implement a first time phone system. So will VoIP be the way businesses move going forward: let’s take a look:

VoIP explained

VoIP, also known as Voice Over IP, Voice over internet protocol, Hosted IP telephony (and many more names) has been around for a long time. Dating back to the nineteen seventies, it was first used by the united states defence, a branch of the government.

Analogue telephones work by establishing a closed circuit between two users, the one making the call and the one receiving the call. Sat in the middle of these two connections is an exchange service (going back quite a few years you may remember BT operators madly connecting wires into ports). This is because one connection between two callers needed one exclusive wire.

VoIP phone systems use a different method of routing telephone calls. This is because the call starts life as a digital packet of data which needs to be translated from a packet to a readable format ready to be received by an analogue or digital line. There are various methods of doing this, but the main one is called codec switching.

Typically the method of switching voice traffic between different formats would cause serious issues with voice quality, which for a long time was associated to VoIP phone systems due to Skype. In the last 10 years, vast improvements, especially for business systems, have meant that the VoIP is now a highly reliable service with the quality of voice traffic being equal to if not better than a standard telephone call from a phone system.

The internet has become more accessible to home and businesses uses; and as it becomes faster, more affordable and stable, businesses are relying more and more on IP networks and the internet for business critical services, most prominently telephone calls made via VoIP phone system and services. This has become so popular, that it is now the number one option for new businesses due to the high quality o phone calls, the low setup cost and low running costs.

There are different ways in which a VoIP phone call can be made:

  • Peer to Peer. This is where one VoIP service will call another with the same provider. This is free with IP telephony.
  • IP phone to public branch exchange. This is where a VoIP phone system will call a none IP based service (another telephone)

So why are VoIP phone systems so popular, and will they really go on to replace the regular phone systems for businesses? There are always other questions to, such as is VoIP a good quality call, and what happens if my internet goes down?

What are the benefits and downfalls of VoIP phone systems?

There are several key advantages to a hosted VoIP phone systems: these are:

  • Cost – calls made via a IP phone systems are much cheaper than traditional systems due to lower call rates, lower billing segments and no call connection fees.
  • Setup speed – businesses are able to have a phone system implemented in days not weeks or months
  • Mobility – with a VoIP phone system, you can take your number anywhere in the UK or indeed with world

When making internal calls, or site to site calls where both VoIP phones are with the same provider, then these calls are free of charge. This is because the call is routed purely over the incumbent suppliers servers rather than being transferred via a public exchange service. For businesses that make many inter-site calls, this can offer a significant cost saving all on its own.

Behind the scenes, VoIP is a little more complex when getting a call from a VoIP phone system to a no VoIP phone. To achieve this, there are various processes used including gateway switching and codecs; but rememeber, you don’t really need to know all this, all you need is a high quality phone system which works, which is what Saffwood Communications in Warrington offers.

Unlike calls made from one IP phone to another, calls that are made to traditional phones are not free of charge. This is because the service needs to move off the VoIP phone system network and onto a traditional exchange service provided by the likes of BTVirgin and Talk Talk Business.

Whilst these types of phone call are not free of charge, they are generally far less costly that calls made from other types of phone system such as ISDN2, ISDN30 or PSTN phone systems. These calls are routed through SIP relays which transport the call the majority of the way from the destination via the cloud rather than routing the call through the typical exchange service. This means that the call does not need to be routed on as many copper wires which have been in the ground for nearly 80 years offering improved call quality. Is also means the associated cost is less for VoIP calls for businesses too.

Being able to harmonise how your business operates with VoIP phone systems is a major advantage. This is because hosted VoIP phone systems do not need a maintainer to service any hardware. Apart from the handsets, there is no hardware on site. This reduces an often redundant cost immediately. Also, it seamlessly integrates your team through applications such as unified communications. For inbound, VoIP phone systems offer a raft of features such as telephone queuing systems, auto attendants and call recording. For businesses in Warrington, Saffwood offers free onsite consultations.

One of the main questions Saffwood Communications is asked is: what if the internet goes down? If this happens, we have a redundancy service which ensures that your calls can be instantly routed by the system to up to 7 landlines and or mobiles. This allows business continuity automatically by the VoIP phone system in the event of your broadband being affected. For those interested in the quality of VoIP, Saffwood in Warrington offers free 14 days trials to businesses with 100 free minutes and inbound telephone queuing system.

Once you understand the basic principles of VoIP phone systems, the next logical step is to start making a few test calls so that you can experience the quality for yourself. Here’s how:

How can I experience VoIP for myself?

The easiest way to use VoIP is firstly to install a softphone client on your PC or Mac. You’ll also need an internet connection and a PC / Mac headset. From there you can take advantage of a 14 day trial from Saffwood based in Warrington (we operate nationally).

With a softphone which you can download free of charge, you are then able to make calls to any phone number you wish. This allows you to test the quality of phone calls. You are also able to buy an IP phone, we recommend Cisco phones where you can use on-phone functionality such as call hold, transfer, divert, voicemail and much more.

If you want to use a landline with VoIP, then you can buy an adaptor phone this. Simple plug in your traditional phone line to the adaptor, then the adaptor to the router and your calls will be routed over this network to your IP provider.

What are the other benefits of VoIP.

With VoIP phone systems, you are able to access many services that traditional systems cannot provide.

  • Choose to refuse: this means you can block calls from numbers that you do not want to speak to permanently
  • Caller Display: will show the caller ID of anyone calling you
  • Divert: this service lets you divert all calls from any number of your choice. You are able to do this from a Cisco phone or web portal
  • Call recording: this allows 100% call recording of all calls made to and from your system.
  • Queue – if you get more calls
  • Conference – this is a free service that costs nothing to dial into and allows free conferencing to all parties.
  • Voicemail service – This can be branded and will send the voicemail to email as well

These are just some of the features that may be offered by a VoIP provider.

Hopefully by reading the earlier parts of this guide you now have a greater understanding of what VoIP is and how it works. So should you opt for VoIP internet phone instead of a landline? This section will help you decide.

VoIP or Fixed Line Solutions?

Choosing between VoIP phone systems and fixed line phone systems is an important decision as it will vastly effect how your business is able to operate both in the short and the long term.

The main reasons to choose a hosted VoIP phone service would be the features it offers, the cost reductions for both setup and ongoing, and the rapid deployment, mobility and scalability which it offers. As well as these offerings, being able to tie your VoIP system into things like mobile phones and PC’s offers if greater flexibility. For businesses that rely on web traffic and web conversion, items such as call me now offer great functionality and user experience as it allows people with no VoIP phones to be instantly connected to you.

The only downside for very small businesses and home workers is that an ADSL line is required, which means you must still pay for an analogue line rental and broadband service upon which your VoIP system will work off.

For businesses calling overseas, the cheap rates that Saffwood in Warrington offers for both international landline and mobile calls would be a huge benefit as it would reduce costs. If you have a client overseas that you always call, you could even setup a phone at their end and make free calls all the time.

When looking at your business phone charges, it would be worth seeing how many of these calls last a part minute, for example 1 minute and 10 seconds, or 30 seconds. For these calls, you are always billed up to the minute, where as Saffwood Communications located in Warrington, would only charge in 10 second increments reducing the call charge

Looking at the market for businesses in the UK, it would strongly point towards that fact that VoIP phone systems are going to be around for a long time, and in fact they are likely to grow in popularity.


Saffwood Communications is a Hosted Telephony provider to businesses. We specialise in SIP and VoIP. Our aim is to support businesses using outdated systems such as PSTN multiline and ISDN to move onto modern, robust telephony platforms. We support business of any size and are fanatical about customer care

Posted in Call Recording, Failover & Redundancy, Hosted Telephony, telephone queuing system, VoIP, VoIP Phone Sysetm, Warrington

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