What is IP Telephony? How can it help my company?

The two-way transmission of voice over a packet-switched IP network, which is part of the TCP/IP protocol suite. The terms “IP telephony” and “voice over IP” (VoIP) are synonymous. However, the term VoIP is widely used for the actual services offered, while IP telephony often refers to the technology behind it. In addition, IP telephony is an umbrella term for all real-time applications over IP, including voice over instant messaging (IM) and videoconferencing. “Excerpt definition of IP telephony provided by PC mag.”

Now that you still don’t know what IP telephony means let me explain in a simplified manner.
When I entered the communications industry in 1999 things were a lot different than they are today. 99 was not all that long ago, but IP has changed the way we communicate in a short time in a massive way. It has renewed and invented a whole new way we communicate. It has changed the way companies operate, eradicated and in some cases changed job descriptions for technicians and employees alike.
I entered the communications business in 99 as wire puller. Data and voice for the most part were completely separate entities in the workplace. Voice had its own wire, and data had a wire of its own. You most likely had an IT vendor for data, and voice technician for your telephones. Most phone systems and data servers were large appliance like units. At this time both voice and data were completely separate entities that both did important jobs within the workplace.
Move forward a couple years and the baby steps of IP telephone systems began to emerge. From the phone system angle, data was beginning to win the war of importance. People were beginning to communicate by email, instant messenger, word, excel, and websites of all variations. The telephones were going to have to move forward.
To me the first baby steps for the phone systems to keep up was enabling the phone system to use an IP address on the data network. This slight change was a “golden spike” bridge of marrying the two important networks together within the workplace. With this important bridge in place many options began to grow within the marrying of the two networks. Via the phone system residing on the network, more information could now be shared between mainly parallel systems by software related programs.
Software residing on your computer, server, or telephone system could share information back and forth. In the case of the telephone system, you could now talk with it via computer. Early examples of some of the advances were telephone programming changes made by desktop, voicemail to email (desktop messaging), call accounting, and call center software.
More advances were able to made do to the bridging of the networks as well, externally. With the availability of VPN and higher speed data platforms; the phone systems were able to be accessed from outside the office locations. This enabled techs or users to access the important telephone network from outside. In many instances, external communication could join remote office locations, and workers together on one unified telephone network. You could have a main office in Philadelphia, and have other offices in another city or town joined via the network together to act as one unit. Instead of having to use an outside line and 7 to 10 digit public telephone number to call another site, you could actually just use your data network to extension to extension dial. This advancement allowed companies to be more productive, and had cost savings on line usage advantages. It enabled departments of companies to be spread out over the country answering the same type calls even over the world via one common telephone number if need be.
Today in 2014, many changes are still occurring using IP telephony. Real time updates on desktops, video, and being able to use apps on smart wireless telephones to act as an extension on you companies telephone system.
Do to IP telephony there are many wide range varieties of features your company can achieve. When speaking on IP telephone systems they handle the old common jobs of older telephone systems, and then some. Their usual duties of inbound and outbound calling, voicemail, auto attendants, paging, mac changes via desktop, and extension to extension dialing are available and firmly intact.
The advantage of having an IP telephone system, and where it separates itself from the “old way” is the features you can add over your data network at your decision to be more productive. Features that some may have or can add are: desktop messaging, email integration, desktop live call monitors of whole system telephone usage, linking branch offices, remote home offices, call centers, call accounting, call recording, and use of cell phones to act as an extension of the system.
The workplace has changed, and so have telephones. IP telephony is now becoming commonly embraced as the new normal. With an ever expanding workplace, a phone system with IP telephony functionality is a necessity moving ahead. It enables your business to be as 24/7 as you want it to be. As in most cases there are many different types of systems, and be sure to do your due diligence in choosing one. The decision on picking the system for your company is important, and the decision is a long term commitment. In my opinion get multiple quotes to see your high and low ceiling, but most importantly have providers do demonstrations. Most providers’ do them free of charge, and should be able to answer questions during the demonstration.
Hope this was helpful explaining what IP telephony is, simply of course. Hope you come away from my article with a better understanding of IP telephony. Please look over our website, and fill out a quote for the IP telephone system we provide made by Allworx. Thank you for reading.
Kevin Long
Atlantic IP, LLC