VirtualPBX Blog

VirtualPBX Explains Telecom: What Exactly is an Online Phone?

online phoneOccasionally, we’ll hear some confusion from first-time VoIP users about what an online phone is. That’s certainly understandable based on the variety of information that is available to people online, some of which is from less reliable sources than others. Be that as it may, we’re here to help shed some light on the topic and question we often hear; “What exactly is an online phone?”

Wait, is There Such a Thing as an Online Phone?

Online Phone is kind of a misleading phrase because it doesn’t really refer to any specific technology and, as such, can be a bit of a misnomer. But for the sake of argument, we’re going to narrow it down to a comparison of the two most applicable technologies out there, a web phone and a softphone. Both of these types of online phones use the internet to connect to the PSTN (Public Switched Telephone Network) which is the place that all telephone calls need to go in order to connect to each other. The online portion of this equation refers to the fact that VoIP (voice over internet protocol) is the method by which both web phones and softphones alike access the PSTN. While there may be some unclear terms there, the area to focus on is the “over internet” portion because these online phones rely on data connections rather than the antiquated copper wire connections of yesteryear.

How Do Softphones and Web Phones Differ?

Even though both softphones and web phones each use internet and data connections to execute their core functions (placing phone calls), they each have their own differences, too. After a quick review, though, it becomes clear that the explanation for this rests in their actual names. A softphone refers to a piece of software that acts as a telephone. This can often be in the form of a mobile application or can also be in the form of a software program that operates on a laptop or desktop computer, too. The drawback to this is that the software that a softphone uses to be a mobile application and the software it uses to operate on a computer are not the same, which means you could have to download (and potentially pay) for two versions of the same technology. Conversely, a web phone is a telephone that operates totally in the cloud without any software on the device a user chooses. Web phones accomplish this by operating wholly on WebRTC (Web-based Real Time Calling) technology that is native to most modern web browsers. That means that a Web Phone will be completely free of any software downloads, updates, or best yet, licensing fees, unlike softphones.

Which Online Phone is Right for You?

While every business and every telephone user has unique needs and limitations, there are some indications as to which online phone is right for you. For many, the best bet will be to stick with a modern web phone because of the differences we’ve outlined above. A web phone like the VirtualPBX Web Phone is totally free to use and only draws from the pooled minutes that a customer has on his or her VirtualPBX Dash Business Phone Service Plans. Plus, because the VirtualPBX Web Phone operates on all devices that have either Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox, that makes it effectively both a mobile and a desktop compatible technology right off the bat. Also, web phones are hosted completely in the cloud so there is no need to worry about updating or maintaining the underlying software. Add that to the fact that because it’s an open-source technology that doesn’t charge licensing fees or operational expenses and the web phone quickly takes a decisive lead over a softphone for most users. To get started with a VirtualPBX Web Phone, all you need to do is have a VirtualPBX Business VoIP Plan, and getting started on one of those can be done in as little as a few minutes.

Free Web Phone from VirtualPBX: When Free Actually Means Free

free web phone from virtualpbxThere has been a lot of talk lately about the “freemium” business model that many popular apps have to entice users. Rightfully so, too. In the light of the fallout that came from the recent illumination into the Facebook and Cambridge Analytica privacy violations, the topic of what free actually means in the internet era has taken more of priority for many. This event struck such a chord with the public because tens of millions of Facebook users learned their personal information was used in direct violation of their understanding of the platform’s privacy agreement. Additionally, the social media site’s other billion-plus users were dismayed to learn that they had unknowingly been allowing their friends’ applications to mine their own data regardless of what the privacy settings they had chosen for themselves were. Basically, the net result here (in addition to a Congressional hearing for mister Mark Zuckerberg, himself) is that the saying that, “If the product is free that’s because you’re the product,” rings truer now in the minds of internet users than ever before. This is where we’d like to suggest that, though there are some suspiciously good deals out there to be wary of, every now and then you can come across one that actually holds water, too. Specifically, the all new and free Web Phone from VirtualPBX is our gift to the VoIP community in that it’s our very first, completely free VoIP phone option.

How Can a Free Web Phone Actually Be Free?

At this point, a healthy level of skepticism about anything free, especially in the tech space, isn’t out of line at all. What makes the free Web Phone from VirtualPBX so special is that we’ve built it ourselves, in-house. Using the open-source WebRTC (Web-based real-time calling) platform and leveraging our decades of hosted telecom expertise, we were able to construct a nimble, clean, and simple VoIP phone that we can offer to our customers. Plus, because we built it ourselves, there’s no licensing fee that users need to pay to third-party developers. Additionally, all of our work is already completed and because it’s a digital property, it’s not like we have inventory to pay off or anything. That’s why we get to offer the completely free Web Phone to all of our customers without a moment’s hesitation. And maybe you caught the only catch in that sentence, but it’s only free to our customers. The VirtualPBX Web Phone could theoretically manage all hosted communications for any user, anywhere. But because we want to continue building value for our VoIP users, the VirtualPBX Web Phone is exclusively available to users on a Dash VoIP Service Agreement.

How Does a Free Web Phone Work?

The way the free Web Phone from VirtualPBX works for Dash VoIP users is identical to how any VoIP phone works on Dash. That is, minus the cost of buying it, of course. Either way, Dash customers can get access to the free Web Phone for all of their users and whenever it’s used, the only cost is that the minutes are drawn from whatever pool of minutes that account has. Plus, because the VirtualPBX Web Phone works on Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox and is totally supported by our engineers according to our exacting standards, it can be operated on literally any web-enabled device, tablet, or telephone. That’s the kind of flexibility and service that VirtualPBX customers have come to expect, and it’s also proof that the free Web Phone from VirtualPBX is the one time when free, actually means free. Switching to VirtualPBX is easier than you think, too, and if you take advantage of this limited time offer, you can switch to VoIP on VirtualPBX and save!

Telephone Numbers – Infographic

The modern business landscape is global, operates at a breakneck pace, and finds customers expecting more service in less time than ever before. That means that each channel a business interfaces with its customers and partners over needs to be optimized for all of those factors. One of the most critical channels that often gets overlooked in the light of improving web page design and enhanced connection speed is the business telephone number. In fact, almost 60% of all callers to a business want to discuss pricing on the first contact. And considering that pricing questions are one of the strongest buying signals, it doesn’t take Gordon Gekko to realize that the opportunity to get a call right is critical. To do get the right interactions on a telephone call, businesses need to have the right telephone numbers, first. But getting the right business telephone numbers is more than just signing up for a business phone service. That’s why we’ve put together the following infographic with examples of the different types of numbers you can have and how they can benefit your business. Plus, with hundreds of thousands of numbers from over 140 countries and true 800 toll-free numbers to choose from, VirtualPBX has exactly the right business telephone number for your business.

Telephone Numbers

Celebrate National Telephone Day With a SIP Phone from VirtualPBX

SIP Phone national telephone dayIf you’re one of our regular readers, you know that we like to take our holidays seriously around here. Whether it’s having a blast with April Fool’s Day or enjoying an entire month of Halloween, we enjoy properly celebrating certain points on the calendar. Which is why it should come as no surprise that we’re especially excited to recognize National Telephone Day. Naturally, we’re sure you’ve already been planning your National Telephone Day picnics well in advance of today, right? Absolutely you have! But, in the event that you have a few missing arraignments yet to be attended to, we thought we’d cover one of the more commonly asked about topics today, specifically those surrounding the SIP phone.

SIP Phone, IP Phone, VoIP Phone, What’s the Difference?

To determine the difference between a SIP phone, an IP phone, and a VoIP phone, it’s important to first understand the terms themselves. VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) phones and IP (Internet Protocol) phones are essentially interchangeable in use. VoIP refers to the use of a cloud-based PBX (Private Branch Exchange) to access the PSTN (Public Switched Telephone Network). Basically, that’s a cumbersome way to say that VoIP gets your phones connected to other telephone lines without the use of wires. Also, a VoIP phone and an IP phone are effectively the same things in that they are each physical handset that a person would use to place a VoIP or IP telephone call. A SIP (Session Initiation Protocol) phone is very similar in that it’s also a phone that connects to the PSTN with the aid of data-enabled connections (versus the traditional copper-wire only approach) but it does so slightly differently. SIP Trunks or SIP Channels are cloud connections to on-site PBX hardware. This hybrid of cloud and physical technologies allows companies that have invested in an on-site PBX telephone switch to maximize the functionality of their physical technology. Typical physical connections to on-site PBX hardware have limitations in cost, traffic, customization, speed of installation, and more, and leveraging the power of the cloud by replacing them with SIP trunks is the best way to get more out of existing on-site PBXs.

National Telephone Day Welcomes ALL Phones

It’s easy to see following this quick explanation about what separates a SIP phone from a VoIP phone and an IP phone that there are plenty of options out there for businesses to consider. What we didn’t even mention yet, though, is that the category of VoIP-enabled telephone options includes softphones, Web Phones, and the ever-present mobile phone and that they all play an important roll in business communications, as well. There’s only one place to find all of the best options on the market for business phones, though, and that’s on the VirtualPBX Recommended VoIP Phones and Devices list that is painstakingly curated to ensue that your business has the right options on National Telephone Day and every other day of the year.

Also, you can learn more about what exactly a SIP phone is by reading our What You Need to Know Blogs that cover SIP Calling and SIP Trunking v PRI, respectively. Or, you can also reference our SIP Trunking FAQ’s as well, as compiled by our award-winning Customer Support Team. And that being said, let us know how you’re celebrating National Telephone Day by sharing pictures of your favorite phones and devices with us on Facebook or Twitter!

Guest Blog: How to Name Your Business For Long-term Success

For our Partner Blog Series we like to highlight the relationships we have with our peers and business partners from across all areas of the telecommunications industry. We know that when it comes to relationships, the whole really is greater than the sum of the parts. That’s why we want to share with you the wisdom, experience, and perspective of the companies we work with.

How to name your BusinessThis edition of the Partner Blog Series comes to us from Grant Polachek of Squadhelp.com, the online community crowdsource solution for branding challenges. Here he covers some of the key considerations for identifying, naming, and positioning your brand.

A strong brand name is the cornerstone of any business. When launching a new business, a strong name can help you attract and connect with customers. It can lead to buzz, increase recall, and encourage referrals, as a name that is hard to say, spell, or recall is also hard to share. A great business name helps you across many key communication and marketing goals. Moreover, a superior name serves as the foundation of your brand and can have exponential effects throughout the lifetime of your business.

When the owners of a small business use a great name, they are likely to attract more customers from their marketing and advertising than their competition who is using a flat, uninteresting name. And no one wants to be the business that causes this awkward situation:

“Your business is doing great. What did you do?” – “Oh, there’s a local agency that helped me with our marketing … but I can’t remember the name of the firm right now.”

With this in mind, follow these guidelines to develop your owner amazing consulting name ideas and finding a great name that will help you succeed.

onpoint

OnPoint is a great example of a pragmatic, easy-to-remember name. It demonstrates one of the key principles of the firm, helping clients build strong strategies and stay ‘on point.’ The name easy super easy to remember, and you’ll immediately know the essential principle of their consulting strategy.

Where Do You Want to Go?

Honing creative process – think about the brand that you’re trying to build, and determine some core concepts essential to your success. Ask yourself, What do I want people to know about my business immediately? Here are some common answers:

  • It is High-End
  • It is Modern
  • It is Unique
  • It is Fun

Build On What You Need

Now that you’ve decided on a central direction, create a one or two sentence statement to keep your naming efforts laser focused. Here are some examples:

  • We’re looking for a modern name that helps to guide our key needs – connectivity, reach and growth.
  • We need a name that’s descriptive and captures the values of the company – that we can offer excellent business-building services.
  • We want to create a name that evokes strength and makes us the best option for even more experienced standards.
  • We need a stylish and timeless name that will immediately make someone think of improving their business.

A lot of people dive into their naming project head first without taking the appropriate time to set the stage for success, hoping that “creativity” and “inspiration” will swoop in and provide an amazing outcome. This is a big mistake. A systemic and strategic approach will result in a much more effective outcome.

the win crowd

Here is an example of a brand name that really evokes feelings of being popular, vibrant, and well known. It’s a memorable name, a hip name, and definitely something that will get people talking.

Why Do You Do It?

Now it’s time to put pen to paper (fingers to keyboard … stylus to tablet). However you like to work, it’s time to brainstorm ideas.

  • Research your competition – Understanding the companies you’re competing against is an important aspect of developing effective name ideas. One of the major decisions you’ll want to make when naming your company is, Do I want to fit in or stand out from my industry?
  • Develop an Inspiration Deck – You can find inspiration for your business name ideas in so many places. Take a drive around town writing down your favorite names that you find, get a list of successful brands across any industry you can imagine using your go-to search engine, or explore winning brand names ideas from crowdsourced branding contests. Building a list of inspiration is a well respected copywriting technique, and it will certainly help you develop great business name ideas as well.

What Your Name Needs

From a technical naming standpoint there are some important principles that you want to keep in mind:

  • Is it easy to say? Unfortunately, you may have to pass on a meaningful name if it’s difficult to say.
  • Is it easy to hear? Try this thought experiment. If you’re standing in loud bar and told someone your name, would they be able to understand you?
  • Is it easy to spell? Simple misspellings such as Lyft, Flickr, Xero can work really well for a brand. But names that are very hard to spell will hinder your marketing and communication efforts.
  • Is it appealing? Is your name pleasant to see and hear? Many times, in a quest to be unique or edgy, companies will select a name that lacks appeal with the target market. Consumers should like how your name looks and sounds. If they do, it’s much more likely that they’ll want to learn more about your business and talk to friends about your brand.

Also make sure you never use obscure names: Can your name only be understood by a few people? Don’t go for an obscure name that only a handful of your target audience will be able to recall quickly. While a small number of your customers may appreciate an obscure name that only they understand, the rest will be confused and move on.

fifth and flow

When searching through business name ideas, you might be surprised and inspired by an outside the box approach like When searching through business name ideas, you might be surprised and inspired by an outside the box approach like Fifth & Flow. This modern, high-end naming convention for a yoga studio is wonderfully unexpected.

What is Your Brand?

A great business name will always be less appealing than your competition’s mediocre brand. It’s very hard to look at a list of names and get excited about them. One, two, or three words on a page can often feel flat.

The ability to bring a name to life in your mind is critical to the naming process. Imagine the story. Visualize the logo. See it on your products and packaging. Without envisioning your brand, you’ll have trouble getting behind any of the business name ideas that you’ve generated.

The Hard Stuff

Developing business name ideas is only the beginning of the process. There are important name validation steps that you’ll definitely want to complete before deciding on your business name.

Running into legal issues after finally deciding on a business name can be devastating to your business. In order to reduce your risk of run-ins with another company’s legal teams or issues with Trademark filing, it is important to check for Trademark Risk before making a final decision on your name. consider that you may be infringing on someone else’s trademark. Depending on your experience with the Trademark process, you can perform this due diligence of your own. However, it’s often best, especially when the consequence could be a receiving a cease-and-desist letter, to have your potential business name ideas checked out by a licensed professional.

It’s All For You

Though you may be eager to begin marketing and operating your business, taking the time to ideate an effective name is an important component of developing your brand’s image. By using these straightforward tips you will have a much easier time coming up with a name that is capable of helping you succeed!

Grant Polachek is the Director of Marketing at Squadhelp.com, helping entrepreneurs and marketers develop brand name ideas, create strong brands, and grow faster through a disruptive crowdsourcing process.

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