Editors' note: Line2 is owned by J2 Global, the parent company of PCMag's publisher, Ziff Media Group. If you have questions you need answered about business VoIP, then remember to subscribe to PCMag's Small Business Newsletter and join the [email protected] business community on LinkedIn, and you can ask vendors, other professionals like yourself, and PCMag's editors.   
1992: InSoft Inc. announces and launches its desktop conferencing product Communique, which included VoIP and video.[85] The company is credited with developing the first generation of commercial, US-based VoIP, Internet media streaming and real-time Internet telephony/collaborative software and standards that would provide the basis for the Real Time Streaming Protocol (RTSP) standard.[86][87]
The steps and principles involved in originating VoIP telephone calls are similar to traditional digital telephony and involve signaling, channel setup, digitization of the analog voice signals, and encoding. Instead of being transmitted over a circuit-switched network, the digital information is packetized and transmission occurs as IP packets over a packet-switched network. They transport media streams using special media delivery protocols that encode audio and video with audio codecs and video codecs. Various codecs exist that optimize the media stream based on application requirements and network bandwidth; some implementations rely on narrowband and compressed speech, while others support high-fidelity stereo codecs.

Now that so many people are working from home, keeping your business' voice communications organized and centralized can be tricky. Fortunately, that's where cloud-served voice over IP (VoIP) providers can shine. With cloud VoIP (sometimes called a cloud PBX system), you can move direct extensions to new geographical locations simply by clicking a mouse. Devices can also change with similar ease either with a software download or simply by re-configuring call forwarding. With many of these systems also adding a wide variety of team collaboration features, cloud VoIP is probably the best COVID-19 investment a business can make.
While there are still a few other legacy protocols around, and a few non-SIP standards, such as H.232, SIP is what's used for the vast majority of modern VoIP phone systems. The most common use I've seen for H.232 has been in dedicated video conferencing systems. SIP, meanwhile, handles phone service, video conferencing, and several other tasks just fine, which is why its use is so widespread. Where it has trouble is with data security, but more on that in a bit.  
PhonePower is one of a handful of VoIP providers that actually specialize in residential VoIP rather than business VoIP. Although PhonePower has many plans, it’s best for calling within the US (including Puerto Rico) and Canada. That’s because it has possibly the cheapest prices in residential VoIP, providing you’re calling solely on local numbers. PhonePower also enables calls abroad, although there are cheaper options such as Vonage if you’re planning on making more than an hour’s worth of calls internationally each month.
The only additional piece of equipment that you need is an Analog Telephone Adapter (also referred to as an ATA) that allows you to connect your existing telephone to your home Internet. This equipment is typically provided on a free lease basis from the home VoIP provider that you choose, or you can use you own device if you prefer. You can also use IP phone(s) instead of using the ATA with your existing analog phones. The sound quality is better but there is more up front cost as IP phones are more expensive than the ATA devices.
×