How VoIP Works, and Why it’s Better for Your Business

You may not be aware of it, but the world of telephony is undergoing a drastic transition: From classic phone technology to voice over internet protocol (VoIP).

At Aircall, it’s our duty as professionals working in this space to help you understand how this tech works, and why it’s better for your business as a whole.

The underlying technology behind VoIP phone calls is pretty complicated, but if you’re able to understand how it works from a high level, it’s easy to see the benefits.

To start, we need to quickly rewind a few decades.

Business Telephony in the Olden-Days

Phones are great because they take your voice, convert it into electrical signals, transmit those electrical signals at mind-boggling speeds all over the world, and then revert them back into audible noise. It makes nearly instant communication possible despite remote locations and vast distances.

As recently as 15 years ago, individual calls were very expensive.

That’s because your voice was traveling along an intricate network of copper wires. When you were on the phone the wires transmitting your call were dedicated exclusively to your conversation.

Think about it, when you called someone in New York from Los Angeles, you were essentially “renting” 2,000 miles of wiring. Competition for these wires let phone companies drive up the cost of long distance calling.

How VoIP Works

VoIP uses the “everywhere, all the time” potential of the internet to achieve the same end result, albeit in a different way.

When you talk into your computer’s microphone, your voice is converted into an electrical signal using a piece of hardware called a driver.  Then, a piece of software known as a codec (coder-decoder) converts this electrical signal into binary — or computer-speak.

From here, your operating system breaks up the binary code into smaller pieces of information known as packets. These packets of audio information are transmitted…

  • from your computer
  • via the router
  • through copper or fiber optic cables
  • across the world to another computer
  • reverse processed via another codec…

… back into what you recognize as words.

Furthermore, landlines had to send information in a relatively slow, linear fashion. The internet can send these packets much faster by doing so in any order. Packets are reassembled in the correct order when they arrive at their destination (your IP address).

This increases the speed of delivery over landline telephones and reduces costs since no exclusive wire has to be designated. 

Connecting VoIP Phones to Classic Phones and Phone Numbers

VoIP to VoIP only describes a specific type of voice conversation where an internet-connected device knows it’s calling another internet connected device. Examples of this include Facetime Audio and Google Calls.

In order for VoIP software to call a classic landline or cell phone (i.e. any phone with an actual number), additional steps must be taken.

Programming specifics and scientific language aside, we can do this by directing calls through carrier companies like Voxbone, Twilio, Plivo, etc.

These companies have physical “Points Of Presence” around the globe that receive web-based audio packets (using a protocol known as WebRTC), convert them into the type of signal acceptable to classic phones (known as SIP), and vice-versa.

If a call coming from a VoIP phone needs to be directed to a cell phone or landline, these carriers fulfill that function.

The same process occurs when a classic phone calls a VoIP software. These carriers sell telephone numbers which are associated with VoIP phones, making them accessible via classic phones as well.

Carriers must process all calls to VoIP phones affiliated with a “real” phone number. So long as phones and phone numbers are the preferred means of voice communication, this is necessary.

How VoIP Works Out in Favor for Your Business?

Going Global is Cheaper

For one, analog phone lines significantly reduce the per-minute calling rate. Long distance calls (and the cost of doing business globally) has been significantly democratized.

Getting Fresh Air is Easier

VoIP also allows for much greater mobility in the workplace. The desk phone (as an anchor) is a thing of the past. Plus, IP technologies are accessible via any internet connected device, so working from home, or that park across the street, is also possible.

Agents are More Informed and Productive

Finally, VoIP technologies can be intricately connected to your other cloud-based technologies. Customer management, sales, chat, and email tools are just the beginning. This connectivity makes for better tracking, informed conversations, and a more productive workforce.

For more on VoIP phone software, check out these other articles on the Aircall blog.

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