Telephone calls still have a role for conducting business in the digital age. But plain old phone calls can go digital, too. Voice over Internet Protocol, or VoIP, is a telecommunications technology that turns a voice call into data. Instead of traveling over the public switched telephone network, VoIP calls are transmitted over data networks, just like e-mail. Businesses don’t need to install a private branch exchange on the premises of the company, nor do they need any new phone lines. VoIP calls only require a reliable Internet connection. Users will need a phone equiped to handle Internet calls. But VoIP service also works outside of the office. When calls are transmitted over the Internet, a VoIP user can make or take calls from anywhere and from any Internet-enabled device.

When voice become data, new features and functions can be added to the standard phone call. Because VoIP treats voice calls as data, a voice mail can be sent to e-mail. The system can also be set to send business calls to another number, such as a mobile phone or a home phone. A feature called Find Me Follow Me will send a call to wherever the user is, whether it’s the office desk, a hotel room, or off site visiting with a client or vendor. This unified communication means that staffers can work from from any location and never miss an important call – whether it’s a call from someone in the company or a customer or vendor trying to do business with your company.

VoIP is finding widespread adoption by businesses across the globe. According to a recent report from telecommunications research firm Infonetics, global and residential VoIP services grew 8 percent from 2012 to 2013, reaching US$68 billion. The firm projects that by 2018, VoIP and unified communications will grow to become an $88 billion market. In the report, Infonetics analyst Diane Myers says that business VoIP is moving to mainstream adoption, riding the growing business use of cloud services.

The additional calling features offered by VoIP are not the only reasons that this technology makes sense for businesses. VoIP also makes it easy to add new lines. That means the system easily scales for growing companies that are adding new employees or expanding to new locations.

Perhaps the most important factor weighing in favor of VoIP is the cost savings compared with traditional phone calls. Because calls are traveling over the Internet, a call placed to another VoIP number is typically free. A VoIP call placed to a number on the public switched telephone network will still incur charges, but even international long distance calls placed on VoIP will cost less compared to standard long distance calling. According to research from telecommunications research firm Light Reading, VoIP calls can result in savings between 50 and 70 percent compared with traditional phone calls. For companies whose business relies on placing a lot of calls to clients, companies, vendors or satellite locations in other countries, the savings with VoIP can be substantial. Okanagan Telephone has installed VoIP systems for businesses throughout British Columbia. To learn more about what VoIP can offer you, please contact us

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