IP phones represent the future of communications, both in our places of business and in our homes. In order to get the best from this technological advance, you need to first have a solid understanding of what these phones are all about and what they can do for your business or your residential property.

You may have heard of Cisco IP phones, although other manufacturers and providers are also available. The team at Nexgen can help you to understand your options and find the best choice for you.

What are IP phones?

An IP phone is simply a phone that uses IP to support the connection. IP stands for internet protocol — in other words, this is a phone that is used to connect calls via an internet connection. You may also have heard of VoIP phones — or voice over internet protocol phones. This is the same as an IP phone — the two terms are interchangeable, but IP is more commonly used because it’s more concise.

Just like you would connect your desktop or laptop computer to the internet to facilitate browsing the web, you can join your IP phone to a similar connection. You may decide to use a physical ethernet cable or a WiFi connection to achieve this.

IP phones work in much the same way as traditional phones, but with a few key differences. When we speak, the movement and airflow from our mouths create vibrations and resonance in the air, which pass on this resonance in the form of sound. The resonance made by our mouths as we speak is an analogue signal. It is continuously variable in terms of pitch, volume and clarity, and traditional telephone devices pick up these analogue vibrations and pass them on to the receiver.

The trouble with analogue signals is that they can be fuzzy and unclear, particularly during transmission down a phone line. IP phones avoid this issue by picking up the analogue signal and interpreting it into a digital one — or in other words, a signal made up of discrete information values with no ambiguity or continuous variation. The result is a much clearer, more reliable signal that supports highly effective communication.

To put it simply, an IP phone is a telephone that communicates using digital signals transmitted across the internet.

IP phones: Communication across an internet connection

Let’s take a look at this definition in a bit more detail as we examine what IP phones actually do. This is the process used by IP phones when they connect to one another:

  • The caller dials the telephone number in the same way they would on an analogue handset.
  • The IP phone sends a request to the VoIP provider via a local area network or LAN.
  • The VoIP provider connects the call request to the phone registered to the dialled number.
  • The recipient’s phone receives the connection request, and the recipient presses “accept” to answer the call.
  • The caller speaks into the phone’s receiver.
  • The caller’s IP phone converts the analogue vibrations into a digital signal.
  • The digital signal is transmitted to the VoIP provider via the local area network.
  • The VoIP provider connects the call, and the signal is received by the recipient’s phone.
  • The recipient’s phone decodes the digital signal and plays the audio in the same way as a speaker plays an mp3 file.
  • This transmission process should be handled in almost real time, providing that there is a strong internet connection at both ends.

Do phones have IP addresses?

Another area in which you may have heard the acronym “IP” is in “IP addresses,” the identifying data that links an internet browsing device with a specific internet connection. So, do these VoIP phones also have IP addresses?

The answer is yes, they do. As the phone is a device that can access the internet, it also features the IP address that is assigned to every device on the network. You will be able to speak to your VoIP provider to find out more about the IP address your phone is using.

What are the benefits of an IP phone system?

Connecting with an IP phone system also means connecting with a wealth of different benefits. Whether you are using your IP phone at home or as part of your business set-up, you will be able to enjoy a number of different advantages.

  • Reduced cost

Costs are always a concern for business owners, and it makes sense to select a solution that will help to minimise expenses in the long term, especially when it comes to telecommunications. If your landline costs are too high, this is going to have a marked effect on your business over time.

IP phones allow calls to be placed and received via an internet connection. This means there is no need to install copper wiring around your premises, significantly reducing the cost of set-up. It also means that ongoing costs are kept low and that internal calls between VoIP phones on the same property become completely free of charge. Cost savings all round — right across your business or in your home — represent a major benefit of IP phones.

  • Improved call management

IP phones may not be completely new, but they do exist at the more modern end of the telecom technology spectrum. So it makes sense that the capabilities of an IP phone would reflect this. Perhaps one of the most useful capabilities for businesses is the simultaneous calls function.

Simultaneous calls have always represented problems on landlines, particularly analogue landlines. If you are making a call, and then someone else calls the same phone you are using, they are not able to connect and you are not able to answer a query or provide support. Traditionally, one option has been to invest in rollover lines that can fill the gap when call volumes increase, but this can be expensive and unreliable.

VoIP providers offering cloud supported services eliminate this issue, as teams can answer simultaneous calls, This then eliminates the need for rollover lines and reduces the overall cost of the phone system. 

VoIP phone systems and handsets tend to have more features and extras built in, which can become useful when call volumes get too high. If you do not have enough personnel available to take all calls, call waiting features can come in handy, or you can choose to transfer calls to another area of your business for more specialised support.

Call blocking, caller ID, and encrypted options represent other features that may be available to you, helping team members to do their jobs in a more efficient, more secure manner.

  • Increased flexibility

Digital solutions are generally designed to increase capability and flexibility, and VoIP solutions are certainly no exception here. One of the key benefits of a VoIP phone is its portability. You will be able to move the handset and cradle to different locations and still experience the same level of connection while retaining the same number.

This positions the VoIP phone somewhere between a traditional landline and a mobile device. VoIP solutions are not fully mobile, as they still need to be connected at the new location. However, they are far more mobile than a traditional landline because the number and ID are registered to the VoIP phone device, not the geographical location of the connection.

  • Ease of use

Sometimes, adopting new technology or upgrading existing solutions can cause a degree of anxiety. This is because people become used to what they know, and they are worried that it may be difficult to learn the new skills and knowledge required to get the best out of this new technology.

With an IP phone system, this is not a concern. IP systems utilise handsets that are much the same as the traditional handsets people are all used to. These handsets work in almost exactly the same way as the more traditional analogue and digital handsets — the number is dialled in the same way, and the call is placed and received in the same way too. As such, no additional training is required for businesses adopting this technology.

In many cases, you may even be able to keep on using your existing telephone hardware, such as handsets and connection socket. Provided that your phone and its connections are VoIP-compatible, you may not need to engage in expensive upgrades to begin enjoying the benefits of the VoIP solution.

Engage the very best business VoIP solutions and revolutionise the way you handle your business communication

A VoIP phone service can help you to drive your business to the next level, facilitating clear and precise communication across all of your calls. Here at Nexgen, we provide VoIP plans for businesses, each of which is designed to help commercial users achieve great things from their telecom solutions. Reach out to our team, request a free consultation today, and find the plan and solution that best meets your unique requirements.