There is a large component of VOIP that is still traditional telephony. Using the Internet as an extension and transport method creates some unique advantages for VOIP technology. Using traditional Internet routing (diagram 1), individual IP telephones connect to a feature server or service provider that adds all the functionality of VOIP service including the voicemail, call routing, caller ID and any other enhancements particular to the service you purchase. Actual telephone calls that run outside the system are terminated on the same switching equipment that handles your traditional wire-line calls.
But phones used in VOIP systems do not need to be on the same network or wired directly to a hardware phone system. Since most VOIP systems are based on a per-seat structures, we are talking about a phone system that has unlimited growth potential and that does not require a massive investment in hardware, line cards or circuits from your local and long distance phone companies.
One of the fastest growing areas in VOIP is the features of hosted PBX services (private branch exchange, a generic term used for featured phone systems). Not only can standard business calls be originated and terminated by IP phones, but a host of phone systems features can be added to increase the functionality of the service to rival or exceed high-end enterprise phone systems.
With VOIP systems, you are aggregated across a large base of other users. This allows VOIP service companies to invest in systems that have any number of calling features. The advantage is that you can treat these services like subscriptions and turn them on or off as needed. These are some of the latest calling features showing up in hosted PBX services.
- Enhanced voicemail services with Web interfaces for viewing call detail and listening to your messages through a Web browser.
- Find me/follow me, a service made popular by creating the ability to simultaneously or sequentially ringing your various phones (office, cell, home, hotel...).
- Selective call routing that allows you to dictate how a call is handled based on who it is (direct to voicemail or route to someone else).
Most available hosted PBX systems now include auto attendant and queuing features. These services can quickly turn a small customer service department into a fully operational call center, allowing callers to wait for the next representative or access a prompted voicemail. Although we love to hate phone systems, most callers tend to appreciate the ability to hold on the line for a live person.
Using networks and the Internet as the transport method for connecting, hosted PBX features give VOIP a distinct advantage over traditional telephony distance.
Because any Internet-connected network has the ability to support VOIP, the Internet can quickly eliminate distances that have been an expense for wire-line phone systems. This feature enables the remote office user, telecommuter or traveler to carry his/her phone with them and set up office anywhere they have Internet connectivity.
VOIP is still in its infancy. The traditional phone companies have not embraced this new technology yet, and won’t until the business model dictates a technology shift. This allows smaller technology firms and service providers to work in the plural space to help set the standard.
Ohio.net Internet providers remains ahead of the technology curve by pioneering services for the local business markets. With a distinct advantage of being owned by a local telephone company, VOIP is the next natural offering for this 10-year-old ISP. The latest offering and service line-up can be viewed at www.ohio.net.