As we’ve started to discover new solutions for collaboration and communication in the form of things like team apps, and workstream services, it’s important to remember that business phones continue to be one of the most essential features of any work environment. Whether you’re upgrading your existing telephony system or investing in a brand-new solution for your corporate network, it’s important to ensure you’re choosing the right strategy for your professional community.
Today, the most common business phone option is the “VoIP” phone, which offers greater connectivity, higher quality, and more flexibility than the standard analogue connection. While choosing between analogue or VoIP might be simple for your business, deciding what kind of VoIP business phone you need isn’t always as straightforward.
Types of VoIP Business Phone
VoIP business phones offer a range of benefits over the standard analogue phone. Because analogue can be costly for carriers to maintain, VoIP drastically lowers the expenses that businesses need to consider for UC purposes. At the same time, VoIP phones are more efficient, offer higher call quality, and a broader range of features. The systems available today include:
- The VoIP Conference Phone
VoIP conference phones allow for greater voice quality and scalability when your focus is on improving the collaboration and networking features of your business environment. Today’s conference phones can connect with countless meeting room accessories, including whiteboards, microphones, and portable speakers.
- Wireless VoIP Phones
For the age of the mobile worker, the wireless VoIP phone allows for freedom of movement around a business environment. Through WiFi or DECT connectivity, companies can use their handsets as they roam between departments, allowing for a more flexible communication experience.
- Video VoIP Phones
Finally, video or multi-media VoIP phones add an extra level of communication to the business environment, allowing coworkers to connect on a digital face-to-face basis. These devices are perfect for the age of flexible working and telecommuting. While the efficiency of the feature will depend on a number of connectivity factors, video conferencing can be a powerful tool for modern businesses.
Some Key Pre-Purchase Considerations
Different organisations will need different levels of features and services from their VoIP phones. Before you can begin purchasing your communication endpoints, you’ll need to ask yourself some key questions about what you really need to thrive in the modern marketplace. For instance:
- What will your phones be used for? Besides voice, IP phones can now support many different communication solutions, including call recording, video, and even collaboration. Your needs will determine whether you need to look for a phone with a screen or display, touch-screen features, or video conferencing
- What budget do you have in mind? Although budget shouldn’t be the only concern when you’re choosing your business phones, it is an important element for many companies. Today’s phones can be more or less expensive depending on the feature set you need. HD audio can greatly enhance the communication experience, but it obviously comes at a greater price than standard audio. Importantly, your aim should be to walk the line between affordability, and performance
- Who will use your IP phones? Most of the time, IP phones aren’t a one-size-fits-all solution. While the people in your call centre might need a standard IP phone, your executives could need video phones or conference devices. Often, you’ll need to create a strategy based around multiple systems
- Ethernet Speed: VoIP phones receive data through a network switch using Ethernet cabling. Standard Ethernet offers about 10/100mbps, which is fine for basic phones, but larger multi-media phones will require stronger bandwidth to accommodate more intense traffic
Another element you may need to think about before you begin choosing your business phones, is the “protocol” you’re going to use. This refers to the rules that your VoIP phones and devices use to deal with telephony. There are different solutions available, including SCCP and SIP. Today, SIP is a more open-source, flexible protocol that has grown to be a popular option for modern companies.
Wireless or Wired?
Finally, before you can make a decision about which business phones are right for you, you’ll need to consider the flexibility required in your office space, and whether you need “wireless” or “wired” phones for your system. Wired desktop phones generally offer the highest possible quality, because they’re connected to your system directly. However, with a wired desk phone, you can sacrifice mobility. Even headsets will only allow you to go so far.
An alternative is to switch to “wireless” VoIP phones. For this, you’ll need to decide whether you’re going to use DECT, or WiFi connections:
- WiFi phones offer cheap and effective portability for companies who want access to cordless business phones. Unfortunately, WiFi also sacrifices quality, because it was not designed to transport audio data.
- DECT is the standard for wireless communications, which can provide a higher degree of quality, and more reliability within your business network. However, DECT phones are often more expensive than WiFi options.
Finding the Right Business Phone
Choosing the perfect business phone is no simple task. You’ll need to think carefully about the level of connectivity each department in your company needs, before investing in the right software, and hardware. Most of the time, you’ll be able to turn to your IT team for help, and evaluate the tasks that your other departments engage in every day, to determine how many, and what kinds of features they need from their VoIP communication strategies.
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Yealink is a Chinese company which manufactures VoIP / SIP telephones and accessories.