He is the co-founder of NP Digital and Subscribers. The Wall Street Journal calls him a top influencer on the web, Forbes says he is one of the top 10 marketers, and Entrepreneur Magazine says he created one of the 100 most brilliant companies. Neil is a New York Times bestselling author and was recognized as a top 100 entrepreneur under the age of 30 by President Obama and a top 100 entrepreneur under the age of 35 by the United Nations.
When people mention voice over IP (VoIP) most are thinking about a business phone service rather than home phone. After all, businesses run data networks and that's what VoIP needs to operate. But now that the majority of homes have an Internet connection, that means they're also running a data network, just usually a smaller and simpler one than you'd find at the office. If you're careful about what you buy, you can take advantage of VoIP's key benefits, which include far more features and a much lower price tag than an old fashioned landline.
VoIP has drastically reduced the cost of communication by sharing network infrastructure between data and voice. A single broad-band connection has the ability to transmit more than one telephone call. Secure calls using standardized protocols, such as Secure Real-time Transport Protocol, as most of the facilities of creating a secure telephone connection over traditional phone lines, such as digitizing and digital transmission, are already in place with VoIP. It is necessary only to encrypt and authenticate the existing data stream. Automated software, such as a virtual PBX, may eliminate the need of personnel to greet and switch incoming calls.
That situation is for fairly pristine network and business conditions, however. Companies with legacy equipment or unique business needs may need a hybrid PBX, in which a portion of the voice network remains in the analog world, while the rest is converted to cloud-based VoIP. This could happen if you occupy an older building without the necessary Ethernet infrastructure to support VoIP or if you had custom software built a long time ago that simply isn't compatible with newer phone technologies.
On the higher end of this space, hosted PBX providers, such as RingCentral Office, will generally offer (sometimes even require) on-premises handset hardware, like desk or cordless VoIP phones that get sent to you pre-configured to work with their service. Plug the phones in, make sure they see an internet connection, and after some self-configuration time, your VoIP service goes live auto-magically.
The problem there is that VoIP traffic is much more sensitive to network bumps and potholes than most general office traffic. That translates to conversations breaking up or cutting out entirely, difficulty connecting over Wi-Fi, or (worst case) dropped and lost calls. If your business is small and your network is essentially contained in one or two wireless routers, then your configuration and testing headaches might be fairly small (though still there). But for medium and larger networks, these tasks can not only be complex, but also time consuming, which translates into added cost in terms of man-hours.
However, for many businesses there's a need to route calls to the PSTN and other analog phones that might remain in use, too. This may mean a PSTN gateway, or even a hybrid PBX, where there's at least a small telephone switch located on-site. Note that these days, a PBX looks exactly like the other servers in your data center, except with an attached means of handling local and analog phones. Many small businesses, however, are avoiding on-premises PBXes partially due to cost savings and partially because the capabilities offered by all-cloud systems are more than advanced enough for their needs. Some virtual cloud PBXes can handle PSTN connectivity without on-site hardware requirements.
BYOD stands for bring your own device. This term refers to employees conducting company business on personal laptops, tablets, and phones instead of on company-owned gear. Most VoIP companies offer BYOD features and solutions within their plans, either included or at additional cost. However, extra IT security layers and company guidelines for BYOD are on you.
Our real estate investment company has 14 phone lines altogether. For a phone service, we needed a local number, good call quality, uninterrupted service, calling apps for our laptops and cell phones, and an internal messaging platform for team communication. We started out with a niche company called Sound Communications, but their call quality and app were not very good. So once we made a bit more income, we decided to switch to RingCentral. RingCentral provides great call quality and is highly recommended in the real estate investment community. They are on the pricier side—$419.88 per line per year—but I’m OK with the price because their service is worth it and the high-quality phone calls are very important to our business.
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.
Government and military organizations use various security measures to protect VoIP traffic, such as voice over secure IP (VoSIP), secure voice over IP (SVoIP), and secure voice over secure IP (SVoSIP). The distinction lies in whether encryption is applied in the telephone endpoint or in the network. Secure voice over secure IP may be implemented by encrypting the media with protocols such as SRTP and ZRTP. Secure voice over IP uses Type 1 encryption on a classified network, such as SIPRNet. Public Secure VoIP is also available with free GNU software and in many popular commercial VoIP programs via libraries, such as ZRTP.
Another area of business VoIP support covers the growing number of mobile employees using softphones for sending and receiving calls from a laptop or mobile device. With a cloud-based PBX solution, you can have employees at different physical locations, including multiple time zones. This makes it easier to support longer business hours to cover your entire customer base. Most of the business offerings offer call routing based on the time of day and time zone.
A voice call originating in the VoIP environment also faces challenges to reach its destination if the number is routed to a mobile phone number on a traditional mobile carrier. VoIP has been identified in the past as a Least Cost Routing (LCR) system, which is based on checking the destination of each telephone call as it is made, and then sending the call via the network that will cost the customer the least. This rating is subject to some debate given the complexity of call routing created by number portability. With GSM number portability now in place, LCR providers can no longer rely on using the network root prefix to determine how to route a call. Instead, they must now determine the actual network of every number before routing the call.
Vonage Business is the biggest name in VoIP, and the good news is it’s a leader in residential VoIP too. Vonage has powerful, nationwide infrastructure, ensuring 100% uptime whenever you make or receive a VoIP call through your home IP phone or the Vonage smartphone app. All pricing packages are billed monthly, with no contracts. However, if you agree to be billed annually, Vonage will reward you with close to a 50% discount on your first 6 months.
Residential VoIP service providers are the most popular choice for home phone services in 2020. Millions of homeowners have switched to VoIP from a regular landline service and enjoy significant cost savings, unlimited calling plans, and amazing calling features (such as call forwarding, call blocking, voicemail to email and more). We will help you find the best VoIP service for your home: