General Telephony

Landline Phone Service Versus VoIP: What’s the Real Difference?

landline-versus-voipWhen weighing the merits of a landline phone service versus VoIP, there are a lot of variables to consider. With the exception of both systems being the basic method by which people can place and receive phone calls, these options couldn’t be more different. Choosing between landline phones and VoIP service is even more nuanced when the consideration is for what type of phones service to get for an office telephone. Business phone services introduce a variety of needs and limitations that make the weighing landlines versus VoIP phones even more important. Over the next few sections, the differences between VoIP and traditional landline phones will become clear, and especially in the context of choosing the right business phone, you should have all the information you need, beginning with defining their core technology.

Landline Versus VoIP: How They Work

The landline telephones that everyone has relied on for decades are built on networks of copper wires, switches, and branch exchanges. Basically, think of the PSTN (Public Switched Telephone Network) in a similar way to the Eisenhower Interstate System. There are millions of miles of physical pathways, some larger than others, with complex interchanges that cost a great deal of money to install, are disruptive and difficult to make changes to, and that are also generally too expensive to manage by anything other than the largest or organizations. Conversely, the way VoIP operates is by the same theoretical principles behind facilitating conversations through a network of connections, but unlike landlines, these connections occur over the infinitely expandable internet. Even the name, VoIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol), is a delivery of a promise that communications over this method will be inline with the expectations that one would have with any cloud-based system. You can read more into a complete explanation of the smaller details behind the inner workings of both landline and VoIP telephone PBXs (Private Branch Exchanges), but recognizing the physical and cloud-based differences is all that’s needed for the general weighing of options between a landline and VoIP phone.

Landline Versus VoIP: Features and Scalability

The first thing many companies will consider when choosing between a landline and a VoIP business phone is price, and while we will get into that shortly, that shouldn’t be where the search begins. That’s because features, functionality, and scalability should are often the gating items for businesses when it comes down to choosing a phone service. And considering that many, but not all, of these can be accomplished with both landlines and VoIP phones, it’s important to know if there are things that can or cannot be done by each option. Also, some businesses will have needs specific to their industry that will require the inclusion of certain features as well. For example, a law firm may need to ensure that their service comes with inbound call recording. A medical office may need to send and receive digital faxes. These are the types of features that a company needs to know about before they begin their considerations over price.

Features and scalability are two areas where VoIP has a distinct advantage over landline phones. Because the telephone service of a VoIP service plan is based in the cloud, there is no hardware to install or manipulate in order to make changes to the system. If you want to add or remove telephone numbers, extensions, create groups or departmental ACD queues, or just simply manage numbers for automatically forwarding calls when you’re not at your desk or even make basic hours of operations automation, anything like this would require the work of an on-site technician for a landline phone system. Conversely, all of these advanced business telephone features and many more are easily managed from the palm of one’s hand on a VoIP telephone system. Because VoIP is all operated off of hosted software that is managed and maintained by the engineers behind the company that provides the service, all the end user needs to do is access whatever online portal they are provided to make any of these types of changes.

Landline Versus VoIP: Costs

Despite the clear advantage that presents itself after comparing landline phone service to VoIP insofar as their respective features are concerned, that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Pricing through growth is an area where landline phones will never be able to compete on a level playing field against hosted business phone services. As soon as a company begins to look at current pricing for advanced hosted business telephone systems, it’s quickly evident that VoIP plans just tend to cost less. Up-front costs for VoIP are virtually nonexistent because there is no hardware to buy or install. Plus, engineers at secured server locations handle all of the relevant VoIP software maintenance, as well. Building a landline phone operation for business can be relatively easy for unsophisticated systems, however, as soon as the company needs to have extensions or departmental queues of any of the features above, the cost skyrockets. That’s because all of those functions are impossible without a telephone company engineer installing complex, bulky, and very expensive switching equipment and hardware on-site. Not only does that come at a high cost at the onset of the service, but then even the most basic management of that system (say you want to add or remove employees, for example) requires more service calls by the telephone company. The costs of paying for these visits adds up quickly, but even more costly is the time value of money in that is lost each time a business needs to wait for a third party to conduct relatively simple changes. VoIP system management happens as quickly as an admin makes the respective changes from his or her online portal. These disparities only become more pronounced with every new feature and function that is added to the system, thus making choosing a business phone system on price alone a clear-cut victory for VoIP.

Landline Versus VoIP: Updating and Obsolescence

The final area to consider when weighing the benefits of a landline phone system versus VoIP for a business phone is less clear cut than the simple costs of one over the other. Nobody can say what communications technology will look like in the coming years, but there are some trends that provide a good indication. Unified communications is definitely one such trend by which more businesses are integrating their total communications technology array into a single platform. Advanced VoIP phone systems are beginning to integrate everything from Salesforce CRM software to digital faxes in a move to accomplish just that. Additionally, the most developed VoIP platforms also are leveraging Webhooks from Zapier to integrate even proprietary and internal systems that cover systems like inventory management and order fulfillment. While many of the initial features businesses use on their phone systems that were discussed above are actual possibilities on both landline and hosted versions, these types of integrations are exclusive to VoIP platforms. Choosing the right business telephone system based on a desire for future-proofing it against becoming obsolete makes VoIP a more attractive option.

Landline Versus VoIP: The Verdict

There are clearly some differences between VoIP and landline business telephone systems that will sway companies one way or another. Ultimately, though, it’s important to remember that they each is essential for a business because there is no replacement for being able to have voice connections with customers and partners. And while this comparison of the two platforms covers many meaningful contrasts between the two, the choice of which platform is right is an individual one best made by and employees using it. For more information on VoIP, and for an opportunity to try VoIP for free, you can contact VirtualPBX 24 hours a day.

March Madness Returns, and With It Comes Time Away From Work

march-madness-2018It’s that time of the year again! Today, the NCAA Men’s College Basketball Tournament begins on the auspicious day of the Ides of March. For many, this is about as appropriate as it can be because they could care less about the circus surrounding the single-elimination tourney. But for others, many others in fact, this compact and very busy basketball schedule represents one of their favorite times of year. How many others feel this way? As we reported on last year, according to ESPN there are at least 50 million brackets completed on their website alone. Sure there will be people who submit multiple brackets to hedge their bets, so to speak, but no matter how way you cut it, that’s a massive engagement on the behalf of the public. So much so, that the estimated productivity loss to businesses as employees focus on the games and not on their work responsibilities can likely top $2 billion this year. That number is staggering when you consider how quickly the tournament is here and gone, but it doesn’t have to be that big of an impact if you plan to adjust your work schedule accordingly.

Don’t Let March Madness Win

In order to get the most out of employees, regardless of what sports events happen to be ongoing at the moment, it’s essential to ensure they have access to the best communications tools available. Being able to use features like Mobile for Business that leverages a nationwide 4G LTE network just for business ensures that they are capable to work around the events in life that are bound to arise from time to time. Everything from home life demands, to illness, to simply scheduling conflicts that arise in the course of doing business can impact an employee’s availability in the office. This plus the reality that we have wide network of high-speed internet access that can fuel advanced unified communications means there’s no reason to be as tethered to a traditional 9-5 work schedule as businesses in the past. In fact, just keeping people tethered to their own desk isn’t even required anymore with features like Hot Desking and Follow Me Calling. Keeping an open mind and a flexible attitude about the whereabouts of employees has also been proven to boost autonomy and thereby engagement, both which have an overall positive impact on the job performance and retention of employees. Having these types of attitudes in place as evergreen approaches to work/life balance helps to navigate situations like March Madness when there may be a spike in distractions for even the most engaged employees.

While March Madness is Here, Though…

Seeing as how you follow the VirtualPBX Blog and, as a result, you already take advantage of the latest developments in business communications tools, you’re probably well-positioned to handle March Madness with ease. That’s why I’d like to invite you to take a peek at
my own bracket on Yahoo! Sports
and challenge you to a friendly competition. Even though the games have already begun, you can still complete your brackets online. Plus, even if you wouldn’t want to go toe-to-toe with my own picks, there are dozens and dozens of options for picking winners on a round-by-round basis. No matter how you participate in the March Madness tournament, though, remember that you still have a job to do at work. In fact, so do I, so it’s time to get back to it!

If you want to share your picks, thoughts, and any creative remote working strategies you have for the tourney, hit us up on social media. We’re always around on Facebook and Twitter and would love to hear from you!

VirtualPBX Tech Talks- Linda And the Virtual Receptionist

VirtualPBX Tech Talks virtual receptionistWe’ve been around for a long time and have collected some of the best minds from across several industries, and we think it’s high time they got their day in the spotlight. In this series of blogs we’ll be unearthing some of the technology and talent that power our hosted communications platform.

Ensuring that the thousands of new companies that switch to VirtualPBX every year have a smooth and seamless transition is a responsibility that we take quite seriously. For the vast majority of them, setting-up their new Dash VoIP plan is simple and they can be up and running in about five minutes. We also have a category of customer that includes far more complex organizational needs and, for them, we offer a high-touch onboarding and system management service aptly named our VirtualPBX Concierge Service. Linda Freitas is one of our most experienced and capable Onboarding Specialists who has seen just about every possible configuration of business phone system imaginable. Also, never one to take the fact that we’re a global company too lightly, Linda is one of the most worldly and well-traveled people you’ll ever meet. In fact, last year she visited a total of 6 new countries but we happened to catch her while she was here in California to sit down for this installment of VirtualPBX Tech Talks.

So Linda, what is the first thing that most companies encounter or ask about when they start setting-up their Dash account?
That really depends on if the company is a new enterprise or if they’re coming to VirtualPBX from a different business phone service. For folks with an existing phone plan and their own telephone numbers, we can port
in their numbers so they never have to worry about losing their current number. For other companies that don’t yet have a telephone number, they just have to pick one from our number bank. This is actually fun for a lot of people because all of the Dash Plans come with at least one number included and we have literally hundreds of thousands of numbers, from local numbers to international numbers to toll-free numbers, to choose from. The sheer amount of options can get a bit overwhelming for some folks so I always remind them that they can add new numbers for just a few dollars whenever they want, that generally helps them be comfortable with the decision.

Great, so once they have their number situated, what is the next thing people will typically look to accomplish?
Easily the biggest thing that people get excited about is setting up the incoming call strategies for their phone system. Honestly, it doesn’t sound that jazzy on the surface, but once admins begin realizing the extent to which they can control everything about the path of an inbound call, it makes sense why they love the Virtual Receptionist. There are a few major templates on how to route the inbound call, and easily the most popular is direct to the Virtual Receptionist. That’s because businesses generally enjoy being able to put the power of choosing where to go right into the hands of their callers, and they can do that without having to tie-up any of their employees in the process.

Other than the few major tracks that you mentioned people can choose to direct inbound call traffic, what makes the Virtual Receptionist really all that special when it comes to customizations?
Again, there are a bunch of nuanced edits that can be made to really fine-tune the experience for any business, but for the sake of time, I can talk about two of the big ones. First is the way people can customize the audio message of the Virtual Receptionist itself. This is a big deal for basically everyone because a franchise that doesn’t own all of its locations would still want a uniform message for the company and even a smaller mom and pop shop would want to keep the message as authentic as possible as to not alienate anyone who has come to expect a certain level of personal attention from a neighborhood business. The audio can be recorded to your computer and uploaded, we can have our professional audio partner Snap Recordings record it for you, or you can even use the automatic text-to-speech feature where you just type in what you want the receptionist to say. The other big feature for most people is the programmable business hours. In just a few clicks you can arrange for the opening and closing hours, lunch hours if necessary, and even holidays for the entire year to be determined so you don’t ever have to worry about if you set up voicemail for a long weekend ever again. Plus, once you’ve set the hours, you also have the option to tailor the inbound call experience to cater to the fact that nobody is around to answer the call with additional audio messages and even unique routing options. Again, once people get to tinkering around with the Greetings Manager, they realize how much better it is than they ever expected.

Let’s go back to the audio options you mentioned just now, what is the text to speech feature all about? Is that something people can reliably trust to sound relatively human?
Absolutely! This new text to speech platform is an advanced system that sounds terrific. There are some nuances to all automatic speech programs that need to be understood, but once you’re aware of them it’s a pretty easy process to navigate.

What types of things should users be aware of when they’re getting started with text to speech?
It really boils down to pacing. You want these messages to have the same pace and cadence of a normal conversation, and the best way to ensure that is adding punctuation strategically. For example, just tossing a comma or a period in whenever you would normally be taking a breath is always a good way to make sure the message comes out in a comfortable, natural fashion. Plus, you can preview the message whenever you want simply by dialing your number and listening right there over the phone.

virtual receptionist and tapasOkay one more thing, what are your next big travel plans for 2018?
Well, to be honest, I always have a million different places to go, but so far I think I’ll be staying relatively close by with a trip to the Caribbean somewhere. I know that’s already pretty great, but I always like to get a new stamp in my passport, so if it does happen, I’d hope it’s Spain so I can get some tapas!

No matter where Linda or the other members of her team will be, you can rest assured that you’ll get the award-winning Customer Support that VirtualPBX is known for at any point in your onboarding process. Plus, because we’re one of the only companies to include our Support Team at no extra charge, you can use their expertise any time you want. And because we’re also available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, we really mean it when we say any time! So what are you waiting for? Get started with your new Dash Plan today, and we’ll be sure to be here if you want some help getting on-boarded. In the meantime, let us know where you’d go visit if you could pick anywhere in the world by joining the conversation on Twitter and Facebook, and for the record, I’d go see the Northern Lights in Iceland before the season is voer!

Temporary Business Phone Service From the Cloud

Temporary Business PhoneWe’re a global company with workers who collaborate from literally all over the world. We like it that way and that’s just one of the reasons that we pour so much of ourselves into developing the best and most reliable cloud phone systems. Plus, when you have workers who play a pivotal role on a variety of teams who hail from different corners of the earth, you have to ensure that the barriers to entry for using such a phone system are few, and really quite low. We’ve accomplished that with our award-winning Dash Plans, and our global community can continue collaborating and working together with ease. However, today’s blog is about something far more local than that. In spite of our global footprint, we have a few office locations like our HQ here in San Jose, California, where a concentration of our team lives. And not unlike many of the areas in Silicon Valley that are experiencing increases in growth and development, our business community here is growing like a weed. Our building, in particular, has seen a spike of activity as it undergoes a complete renovation. During this construction, we’ve had occasion to meet many new arriving and transitional companies to our address, many of which have been in need of temporary phone service during or immediately following their move. If you can’t see where this is going yet, let me clue you in on the fact that we happen to know some folks who specialized in permanent or temporary business phone service, all powered by the cutting edge in cloud technologies.

Temporary Business Phone Service in the Blink of an Eye

Probably the biggest driver in what motivates some companies to seek out a temporary business phone system isn’t lack of technology or in-house resources. Rather than needing the right people in place to assemble and configure a cloud phone system, these companies need to have more time to do that. Unsurprisingly, time is the most valuable resource for most organizations, and because we built Dash to be up and running in only minutes from the time a business signs up, the gap between when a company moves and when their phones are ringing in their new office is virtually nonexistent. Plus, because Dash has more features than are typically associated with a traditional business phone system like Follow Me Calling that will ring a series of numbers that help to track down employees no matter if you’re unpacking into your new space or picking up pizza for the movers. A side note should be that, regardless of the composition of a moving team, pizza is never a bad idea. Additionally, no matter how long it takes to get settled into a new office, your customers should never have to wait to get in touch.

Keep Temporary Circumstances from Becoming Permanent Problems

A periodic inconvenience of relocating or displacing due to renovations can be a hassle, for sure. But without proper telephone service continuation, that temporary inconvenience can balloon into a long-term loss of income. Establishing simple, effective, affordable, and most importantly fast continuations of all of your communications with a cloud-based temporary business phone system from VirtualPBX will ensure that everything will go smoothly as you endure a move. Even if your coworker forgets to bubble wrap the office coffee mugs. Dang it, Johnson…

No matter when you tackle the task of schlepping everything into your new digs and begin to settle in and make the new space your own, we’ll be there for you. Our dedicated 24/7 Support Team is widely recognized in the industry as one of the best, and they’re included with every Dash Plan, too. You never know, you may find out that saving money on your temporary business phone system and getting a whole bunch more out of it in the process is actually a good long-term play for your company, too. And with reliability and operational up-time that leads the industry, too, you really can’t go wrong with a new Dash Plan. Give us a call today to see how we can get you set-up with a temporary business phone service or with a permanent solution today, because we know how much it helps to have a hand during a move.

Li-Fi – Possibilities of an Emerging Technology for Telecommunication Apps

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.

For this edition of the Partner Blog Series, we’ve called on Fueled, the groundbreaking app developers with offices in New York City, Chicago, and London. Today, we hear from Micheal Kordvani, a lifelong technology lover and Computer Sciences graduate of Queens College, as he examines the impact of an emerging technology on the future of telecommunications apps.

li-fiThe web is packed with humorous memes about poor connectivity. People don’t like wasting time and money on cut-off video connections and half-finished conversations. Telecommunication companies deliberately work on making the internet safer and faster or on new technologies that could solve the frustrating problem of speed, safety, and cost during data transfers. Unfortunately,  App developers tirelessly create new telecommunication apps. While one solves team communication and it’s painfully slow, another one is super-effective for fast connectivity, but costs way more than is acceptable.

It’s not easy to meet all criteria at once. The intriguing Li-Fi (short of Light Fidelity) is opening new doors. It’s still young, but a number of supporters are working to make it a viable solution for solving some of the current data transfer problems.

In a way similar to Wi-Fi, Li-Fi is a wireless data transfer option. However, as it uses VLC (visible light communication), Ultraviolet and Infrared waves instead of radio frequencies, it provides a variety of ways to deal with the notoriously insecure Wi-Fi connections. If you’ve by now thought that Li-Fi creates new problems while solving old ones, you’re partially true. Consequently, it may not be the perfect all-in-one solution for improving communication, but it definitely carries a lot of potentials for mobile developers to play with it’s developing functions for telecommunication apps.

Overcoming Wi-Fi Shortcomings with Li-Fi

While Wi-Fi is predominantly operational within a full building when you need to transfer data with light, walls do create a problem. On the other hand, as Li-Fi offers much bigger bandwidth, efficiency and security, it solves radio interference issues for a low cost. The world of data communication is jam-packed and with smart connectivity, the volume is only getting bigger. We all know the frustration of slow Wi-Fi when multiple devices are connected to a network. The number of connected devices grows by billions. Despite Wi-Fi’s current optimal performance for confined spaces, the fixed bandwidth makes high data transfer a problem. Since Li-Fi works well with LED and lighting units, there are plenty of options for developing the medium. At least one area where Li-Fi has exciting possibilities is smart automation. In this sense, telecommunication app developers can start thinking well out of the extent of Slack, Skype, Zoom or other mobile apps that are now solving business communication problems.

Li-Fi supported devices which are based on a larger part of the electromagnetic spectrum provide endless possibilities for data transfer by light in smart homes. This doesn’t mean that we will get rid of the communication over the internet as it is now. Maybe we won’t leave Ethernet cables or Wi-fi routers to the history yet, but this new telecommunication technology can change the way we stream videos, send emails or access the web.

Majority of standard office operations in the foreseeable future could be managed via a Li-fi based telecommunication app. Your smartphone will be the tool to turn on the LED lights, set the room temperature, organize clock alarms, arrange an HD video streaming calendar or print your meeting agenda. And yes – hold a meeting on a plane! Cost and security work extremely well with Li-Fi.

The extensive growth in the use of LEDs for illumination provides a rich opportunity for integration of the technology. If we consider the shortcomings of Li-Fi, such as the necessity of an immediate access to a light source, the short-range reach of Li-Fi and the limitations posed by natural sunlight or physical obstacles, as well as the high costs of mass-scale adoption, it’s still early age to predict the full application. At the same time, it’s a fertile moment to test its potential for inventive telecommunication apps that can make our lives easier at smart homes and automated offices.

Future Areas for Development of Li-Fi Telecommunication Apps

What are the areas for developing profitable software products that can solve more problems than creating ones? Future applications of the Li-Fi technology could make educational institutions work better due to faster internet. When Wi-Fi is backed up by Li-Fi, medical equipment that suffers from Wi-Fi interferences can be made much safer. Although Li-Fi is not without its own drawbacks in terms of penetrating dense environments (for example, underwater), when Wi-Fi fails, light data transfers can take over to support underwater exploration.

For sensitive industries, such as energy providers (power plants), Li-Fi is a safe connectivity solution that can be easily monitored. Where other less secure technologies – Bluetooth or NFC are forbidden, Li-Fi short-range networks are a viable replacement solution. In the end, the technology can offer effective connectivity for smartphones or laptops on-the-go, or strengthen the safety of traffic via car LED lights.

Areas with ample LED light are Li-Fi friendly and, no doubt, carry a vast creative capacity for testing telecommunication apps that bring all these technologies together. When the technology becomes commercially successful, cleaner environments and improved health are irreplaceable benefits to be gained. The impetus is on. It’s up to developers to find ways and turn researchers’ results into business products.

So what do you think? Will Li-Fi be the technology of the future and become as familiar, ubiquitous, and necessary as Wi-Fi? You can let us know what you think on Twitter and Facebook, and be sure to give a shout out to Fueled while you’re at it for this thorough review. Also, no matter what core technology your business network operates over, if you ever have any challenges now or in the future, you can garantee our VirtualPBX Customer Support will be there to help you through it!

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