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Telecommunications speak is littered with so many confusing acronyms it’s not surprising that even industry professionals sometimes use abbreviations without knowing what they stand for. If you are still wondering what VoIP means and how it relates to other puzzling acronyms like SIP, PBX and PSTN, you are not alone. Take a deep breath, sit back and read on to learn the lingo. By the end of this page you will have gained all the information and confidence you need to ask your ITSP about VoIP!
Whatever your business, it pays to invest in the state-of-the-art telecommunications applications and systems which drive operations and sales. That means thinking about whether or not you really need to stick with a traditional telephone system or if it makes more sense to opt for an alternative solution. And, if you are going to make the right decision for your business, you need to start by learning exactly what all those annoying little clusters of telecommunications letters really mean.
VoIP may sound scarily complex but actually it stands for something quite simple. Voice over Internet Protocol is the technology that is used to send voice calls and services via the internet, either wirelessly of through WiFi or mobile data. VoIP essentially enables internet telephony without the need for old fashioned phone lines.
VoIP systems often cost less than old-style telephone lines which require more physical equipment and can be time-consuming and complex to set up. This is particularly important for smaller companies because minimal equipment and basic system licences are all that are required to provide the whole team with phone access, avoiding the need for expensive multi-user onsite technology. And, that means telecommunications which do not bite too heavily into your budget.
If your company owns computers and phones and has an internet connection, you are good to go with VoIP! Actually, with VoIP you don’t even need a telephone to send and receive calls. If you have an internet connection and are happy to do without a handset, all you have to do is download a VoIP software app directly to your laptop or mobile. For new businesses, this means getting your team’s unified communications systems set up much more quickly than the time it would take to install a traditional phone network. And VoIP can easily be upscaled as your sales and your business grow. It is easy to see how VoIP presents an affordable and hassle-free option for new businesses.
It’s not just start-ups that need to find flexible telecommunications solutions. Working from home or on the road has never been more popular. Remote working is increasingly placing extra demands on communications resources including phone systems. When team members are working away from a central office it often pays to consider hosted VoIP to enable cheap and easy access to on-site telephone systems from multiple locations. Because the VoIP service is provided using the internet, the staff member’s physical location no longer matters. And VoIP systems are simple to maintain, too. Unlike traditional phone systems, they are unlikely to present unpredictable costs relating to loss, damage or service engineers. That really matters if your team are operating from home offices across the length and breadth of the country or, in some cases, the world.
Along with all its other advantages, VoIP is able to provide 50 Hz to 7 kHz of hi-definition sound, carrying much more clarity than traditional 300 Hz to 3400 Hz phone lines. Its higher frequencies make conversations much easier to hear, making for a better experience when speaking with customers and colleagues.
So now that you understand Voice over Internet Protocol, what about all those other acronyms like SIP and ITSP, and how do they relate to VoIP? Some of them are easier to explain than others. Take ITSP or Internet Telephony Service Provider. Once you know what the letters stand for, it’s not hard to get to grips with the fact that an ITSP is responsible for providing the services and equipment needed to enable VoIP telephony. In fact, ITSPs are sometimes simply called VoIP service providers. They are there to enable phone calls over the internet and to incorporate them smoothly into existing telecommunications systems.
SIP, or Session Initiation Protocol, is harder to explain in a few words. It has some complex features and is used in many different ways. Start off by trying to think of SIP as a language which VoIP systems use to understand one another and to send and receive information.
PBX means Private Branch eXchange. A PBX can be intricate or relatively simple depending on its size, but all PBX telephone systems offer the hardware and software to manage an organisation’s inward, outward and on-site hosted calls. A PBX services a single organisation and its branches and teams. By contrast, a PSTN, or Public Switched Telephone Network, is the huge interconnected infrastructure of the world’s circuit switched phone systems. It facilitates calls to and from countries all around the globe and enables landlines, cell phones and VoIP calls to interact and communicate together.
Telecommunication advances are moving fast. Acronyms like VoIP and SIP can make it even harder for individuals to keep up with telephony services and what really matters for them and their business. By taking a moment to think about what abbreviations like PBX and PSTN stand for, we can make communications choices that are better informed and more likely to grow our businesses. Never feel silly for asking what an acronym means and don’t let service providers or engineers use them to confuse or exclude you. Now you know what VoIP stands for the world is yours for the taking!