Beginner's Guide to Understanding IP Phones
As you switch your business phone system to a VoIP solution, some of your office staff may need a bit of educating on what it means to start using IP phones and why it’s important for your business. This article will provide a beginner’s level overview of IP phones, how they’re different from landline phones, and why they’re better.
In this article, we’ll answer the following questions:
- What is an IP phone?
- How do IP phones work?
- What are IP phone systems?
- How are IP phones different from landline phones?
- Why are IP phones better?
- Where can I use my IP phone?
- What can I expect with IP phones?
Before you deploy your new IP phones, share this post with your team so they can be educated on what’s coming and can be confident they don’t need to worry about the transition. Here we go!
What is an IP phone?
First off, voice over internet protocol, or VoIP, is a technology that allows you to place phone calls over the internet. Hence VoIP phones, or more commonly called IP phones, are the physical office phones that you can use with a VoIP phone system. You have likely seen IP phones in many offices and not even realized they were VoIP.
IP phones connect to your phone service via the internet, using an ethernet cable or WiFi connection.
IP phones include desk phones, cordless phones, and conference phones that resemble your everyday office phone, but use a different technology for powering calls. Let’s learn more about how an IP phone differs from its predecessor, the analog phone, or better known as the landline phone.
How do IP phones work?
How do IP phones work? IP phones work by reading an individual’s analogue voice signals, and converting them into digital signals. These converted digital signals are then sent over to a broadline, as data. In simpler words, IP phones work by taking telephone conversations and routing them through an IP phone system, also known as a VoIP system, over a network cable, into the network, and then out and into the internet.
VoIP takes the phone communication concept and moving it over to the network. The microphone and receiver of IP phone systems work similar to the way that an MP3 player might work; by taking the sound and converting it into digital signals and sending them over the network. What an IP phone system does is that it receives these digital signals and plays them back to you.
What are IP phone systems?
IP phone systems work together with IP phones in order to send and receive digital signals. IP phone systems are composed of three essential parts that allow them to work and send and receive IP voice digital signals. An IP phone system is comprised of an IP phone (also known as a VoIP phone), and an IP PBX, or a VoIP private branch exchange. The way that these systems work is that they are connected to a VoIP service provider through a Local Area Network (LAN). IP Phone systems work by transmitting telephone calls over the Internet, in contrast to the way that traditional telephone systems work via circuit-switched telephony systems.
Related: 3 IP Phones Under $75
How are IP phones different from landline phones?
After you move over to a VoIP phone system, your old landline phones will no longer work and will need to have been replaced with IP phones (unless you decide to use ATA adaptors, which is usually not recommended). Looks-wise, IP phones and analog phones are indistinguishable to the average person and provide the same functionality.
From a user standpoint, IP phones work the same way as analog phones. The difference lies in the transmission.
So how is it different from landline phones? The difference lies in the transmission. IP phones transmit voice data digitally, whereas landline phones are limited to just that – landlines.
The advantage of IP phones is that these digital signals can be transmitted anywhere across the internet by using nothing but your regular internet connection, thereby bypassing the trunks and cables, and therefore the charges, laid down by telephone companies. Besides this major expense, let’s see what other advantages IP phones offer.
Related: VoIP Softphones vs IP Phones
Why are IP phones better?
The demand for IP phones is ever-increasing, across large and small organizations. The advantages are clear and quantifiable. A business owner’s vote for IP phones is justified by the following reasons:
- Same look and feel: The difference lies in the working, not the looks. IP phones look almost identical to their analog counterparts. While IP phones should naturally appear newer, they use the same amount of place on your desk, and come with a handset receiver, keypad, and buttons like transfer, hold, and conference. More importantly, you don’t need to educate your employees on using it. The keypad, receiver, display screen, and buttons are all placed just like in landline phones. IP phones look almost identical to landline phones and don’t require any training.
- Cost-savings: If a business is looking to update their telephone system and save costs over the long term, a network of IP phones is the best bet. IP phones use the internet to make and receive calls, which means you don’t have to invest in copper wires to carry analog signals all around the office. You can use the existing internet connection in your office to connect your IP phones. What’s more, Users can make free calls to other IP phones in the organization. IP phones use your existing internet connection thus eliminating complex hardware and its expenses.
- Unlimited simultaneous calls: On a traditional landline phone, if you wished to make a call while already on another call on the same phone, you would need a different number to make the second call, also known as a ‘rollover line’. With a cloud phone system, the need for rollover lines (and its extra cost per line) is eliminated. Cloud phone systems enable unlimited simultaneous calls and eliminate rollover lines. With IP phones powered by a VoIP provider like Telzio, you’re only limited to the number of physical phones and people available to answer the calls, and are able to avoid busy signals completely. You can use a phone queue to avoid losing callers when all your phones are occupied.
Where can I use my IP phone?
Another defining quality of IP phones is that you can use them in any location where you have internet connection. The IP phone itself does not rely on the physical location of the office. You can unplug an IP phone, take it to another location, and plug it in again where your line (phone number/extension) and its settings (routing rules, hold music, etc.) will be unchanged.
IP phones can be used in any location, making it easy for expanding and working remotely.
This aspect makes IP phones flexible when moving offices and working remotely. Employers can provide remote workers with an IP phone at the office and a second IP phone for home, where both phones would ring identically and can be answered from either location.
What can I expect with IP phones?
Luckily for you – the end user, migrating the company phone system to a new VoIP service doesn’t mean you have to re-learn how to use a phone. An IP phone is still your standard office phone, with all the features you’re used to.
The key is that an IP phone system gives your company the economic and long term benefits it needs to grow. Ultimately, you’ll benefit from an IP phone because of it’s modern design, ease-of-use, lower maintenance, and ever-improving functionality.
The IP phone system takes away a significant amount of on-site labor that goes into managing a phone system.
This means you don’t need to wait for a technician to come out and program a new extension, install updates, or perform a maintenance check on your hardware.
With an IP phone, updates can be done remotely through the Telzio Dashboard.
So, have no fear! When your new IP phone arrives at your desk, all you have to do is log into the dashboard, enter the MAC address of the IP phone, assign it to a user, and our auto provisioning feature will configure all the other settings. It's that easy!
Thomas has an education in electrical engineering and background in software development.