Is VoIP Telephony all about the App now?
Many businesses had to find flexible ways of working from anywhere after the UK entered lockdown for the first time in March 2020. Of course, remote working, home working, and flexible working policies existed long before COVID-19 but they were put in to sharper focus throughout last year.
Business telephone systems, using Voice over IP (VoIP), have continued to use desk phones as the primary means of making and receiving calls. However, platforms supporting this technology have offered other means for carrying both voice and video calls for a long time. Computer applications, and smartphone applications, offer alternative solutions for making calls. With their popularity increasing as the UK workforce has to stay away from the company office.
Is it as simple as installing an App?
Whilst most people are familiar with downloading and installing applications on to computers or smartphones building a high quality, and reliable, business telephone service requires expertise. Good internet connectivity is a necessary element in the solution but speed is not the only consideration. IP telephone calls only requiring a small portion of any high-speed internet service. What matters most is low latency (delay) and prioritised delivery. Guaranteeing quality of service (QoS) for remote, or home, worker environments is not always easy for a business. In addition, home broadband providers often implement security features that can prevent the phone application from connecting with the hosted system. Lastly, there is one common feature which always needs disabling, and that is SIP ALG.
Your local telecoms provider can help you make the right choice and should be able to advise on what to look for before you enter in to a lengthy broadband contract.
What do each of the Apps offer?
Before looking at each application individually, it has been interesting to see the change in our internet usage habits since the first lockdown began. Many of us have gone back to accessing the internet via larger screens with smartphones losing their dominance. Whilst many adults still rely heavily on their smartphones, sales of these handheld computers collapsed throughout the pandemic.
With the above in mind, and understanding that, even when moving from the work environment to working from anywhere, many remain desk bound. For those working from anywhere, including working from home (WFH), the first choice of application would be the Desktop App.
The Desktop App
A telephone application running on the desktop of a Microsoft Windows PC; or an Apple MAC. All the features of a leading VoIP system are available via the click of a mouse. Call handling operates in a similar fashion to using a desk phone. Investing in a Bluetooth headset will better allow for high definition (HD) voice quality. However, should your computer already come with a microphone and speaker built in, it is possible to use the telephone service. With, or without, an additional headset you are still free to speak while you type. Other benefits of the desktop app include:
- Outlook integration – allowing access to contacts already stored in this email client
- Video calling – although full teleconference capabilities may require additional licenses
The Mobile App
An Apple iOS, or Android, based application which also provides access to a comprehensive set of telephony features. This solution is ideal for people who are regularly on the go with connectivity available over good WiFi, or 4G internet. Changes Apple, or Google, make to each operating system may affect the way the application works but feature updates are never far behind and your telecoms supplier should be able to keep you abreast of these.
Like the desktop app, video calling works on a one to one basis; with conferencing available as an upgrade to the standard app. Most VoIP apps will be able to access your mobile contacts; offering the ability to call a contact, you have stored in your phone.
Do I need a new telephone system to use an App?
If you have already moved to using a VoIP solution then the short answer should be no.
Modern Business VoIP systems are sold on a monthly subscription basis. Regardless of the length of the contract term, you pay a set fee, per user, per month to use it. Access to the system is possible via three methods:
- Desk Phone
- Desktop Application
- Mobile App
An individual can use all three solutions when moving from business office, to home office, to on the road. It is even possible to pull a call from one call type to another, for example moving a call from the desk phone, to the mobile app, when you need to leave the office.
Desk phones do not require a computer to be running to make calls; a solution especially useful for heavy telephone users. However, if a member of staff regularly moves from their company location, to working from home, the desktop app is a very good solution. Fitting flexible working environments very well, where staff hotdesk.
Application based telephony is a reliable solution to modern working practices; but do not forget, the key to any solution is good quality internet connectivity.
Find a competitive supplier to talk to about migrating your business telephone service today. You can contact The Stamford Telephone Company by calling 01733 595840 or by filling out our Contact Form.