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 VoIP: Voice over Internet Protocol
 
Great new opportunities, but to make free calls or to make mistakes?
VoIP is not a very difficult concept. It is the conversion of your voice into digital signal packets which are then sent using the Internet Protocol across the web. There are many many different versions and variations so which should you consider using? Well to start lets just consider why you might want to use VoIP and that will help us decide if we do want to use it.
 
Who Should Be Using It?
The biggest single advantage of VoIP is that when you are calling another VoIP user, the call is free. Yes FREE. This is because it is just like sending an email or looking at a web page, the traffic is just travelling a path that is directly connected via the internet and so there is no toll to pay. This means that it can provide significant savings on long distance calls because the call can be routed to a local destination via the internet and then just transmitted to the phone as a local call. Between these two technologies the outgoing calls from your business can be reduced to local call charges only as long as there is a compatible VoIP to PSTN server (such as draytel.org which takes the VoIP signal and connects it back into the terrestrial phone system) within the relevant call code area.

You can also use VoIP in conjunction with traditional phones. You might have some numbers in your telephone system allocated to use the traditional PSTN system whilst other numbers might be routed directly to a branch office or customer/supplier that uses VoIP and so the call would be free.

Lets look at some example scenarios so that we can cement what is going on in our heads and get a feel or the kind of solution that might meet our requirements as well as our budgets

Scenario 1:

You have a single office and you want to reduce outgoing call costs.

 

 

In the example left the phone network PBX are connected to a VoIP router that has an extension number on the PBX system. The internal workforce can therefore dial the extension number of the VoIP router and then dial a code that signifies one of the internet users on the right so that they can talk without charge for as long as they like.

Typically in this situation you could use any VoIP router with FX0 connectors - the Vigor 3300V for instance - which allow you to connect to the analogue input on a PBX phone system. The home users could then be using anything from Windows Messenger to VigorTalk or a Vigor ADSL VoIP router. Windows Messenger would require a PC of course whilst the VigorTalk would allow a conventional telephone. Get more details here on the Vigor Router range.

Scenario 2:

You have multiple office sites and want to use VoIP between offices and PSTN traditional for other calls

 

 

 

In this example there are two offices, one on each side of the line in the middle. Each office has a VoIP router connected into the PBX incoming ports from the FX0 ports of the router. Each VoIP port of the router is connected to a different extension number and each of these numbers is routed straight through to the other VoIP router so that multiple free calls can be going on between the two sites.

This example can be adopted to deal with multiple sites as well as home users. A common option is to have a VoIP router at the home of the teleworker (staff member working from home) which is programmed to route them straight into the office PBX as soon as they pick it up, negating the need for phone expenses being required. The router can also be configured to provide a VPN connection straight to the data network of the office so that the home worker has all the resources of being in the office.

Scenario 3:

Using VoIP for all Outgoing Calls Via A Routed VoIP Solution

 

Here we have an office that is using a routed VoIP solution for all of its outgoing calls. In the picture left, the calls are routed via the internet to VoIP and PC users as well as being routed to a SIPs switchboard server which then passes the VoIP line onto the PSTN system. The VoIP router can be programmed with which SIPs server is closest to each STD code and so the calls will only be charged at local rate and appear to be normal phone calls by whoever is receiving the call.

Incorporating this and the above example is an obvious step as the VoIP router can also be programmed with the address of other VoIP users which it will route to for free calls when available. This path to VoIP conversion is being found in all of the major telephone operators as IP telephony shows the internet to be the future of voice calling. The router in this example is acting as the PBX and so would require multiple input ports be they analogue or digital. We would recommend investigating the Vigor 3300V Enterprise router.

For most smaller companies, some variation on the top two scenarios will almost certainly be the best option. VoIP systems are still very expensive for what they are. They are a newer technology -i.e. not everyone is using them - and so their cost is inflated. They are also subject to internet connectivity and so not necessarily as reliable as many companies need them to be. Large company systems have a PSTN fallback which is very expensive and so cuts the money saved anyhow. If you have a number of remote sites that can coordinate with you to buy compatible VoIP hardware for connection to the phone system then VoIP is definitely a good idea. We recommend Draytek VoIP routers and can help you choose the right system if you fill in the form at the bottom of the page. To buy a router to configure yourself have a look at our DrayTek Router Online Store for some prices and further information.

 

For larger companies, more information is changing hands more quickly and  must also travel from one site to another by Phone, Fax, Email or other. These communications are a mounting cost and so with our Virtual Private Networking (VPN) and Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) we can allow different company sites to communicate with no call costs other than the line rental of the internet connection. The router can also plug into a PBX at your office allowing your remote workers to receive free internet calls from your company switchboard, see an example here.

 
Our service includes a connection to the sircles.net head office which enables you to use one of our email servers which allows you to see each others public calendar engagements and appointments as well as check your email from any internet connection. The system also brings you into direct connection to your support team allowing them to monitor and effect anti-virus and security procedures as required without having to await a site visit.
 
There is a page showing all of the technical specifications
 
sircles.net VoIP Routed Connection Benefits......
  • No more call charges for inter-office communication

  • No call charges to connect to the Internet

  • A 'Fast' computer network for each office for information and data-sharing

  • A secure connection to sircles.net for remote seamless remote storage of all your files and email

  • The phone system can even be incorporated with the normal phone system to reduce the cost of all calls but this service is subject to availability

  • Free 0870 number with NO line rental

  • Free 2.00 call credit with each VoIP Router for calls to normal phones, call costs are listed right

Have a look at some diagrams of the services or products for VoIP here: Multiple Small Sites with VoIP

 Popular Destinations - Standard Tariff 
UK (Local/National Geographic) 1.4p
UK Freephone ('0800') 0p
UK Mobile 14p
UK '3' Mobile 19p
UK (Local Non-Geo '0845') 6p
UK (National Non-Geo '0870') 12p
USA 1.4p
Ireland 1.7p
Spain 1.7p
Austria 1.7p
Australia 1.7p
France 1.7p
Germany 1.7p
Greece 2.6p
Russia 4.3p
India 11p
Israel 3p
Nigeria 6p
Antarctica 49p
Prices are in pence per minute and exclude VAT

UK VAT @17.5% is added to all call costs. Call costs are to fixed landlines.
For calls to mobiles and specific regions, check below.
Prices correct @ 1/9/05; subject to change.

 

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