Voice over IP (VoIP) phone service has become the common communications platform for business. VoIP offers business users a number of advantages: superior audio quality, scalability, integration with other technologies, and most important of all, low cost. If you have an enterprise network, then adding VoIP phone service is relatively simple. Hosted VoIP services that provide IP-quality carrier services using cloud-based systems can be even more versatile and less expensive. However, if you aren’t going mobile with your VoIP phone service then you are missing many of the advantages of IP telephony.
VoIP Delivers for Business
VoIP is a relatively mature technology that has been around since 1995. Originally developed as a workaround to provide virtually free long-distance calling, VoIP uses the internet protocol (IP) to transmit sound as data packets. Because VoIP is based on IP, it can use the Internet for free point-to-point phone calls anywhere on the globe. Over the past two decades VoIP has matured so it is readily available to anyone with internet access. Skype, for example, has become a popular application that is freely available to allow consumers to make free VoIP calls from their computer or smartphone. VoIP also can be used over wireless and other data links—basically, over any connection that has sufficient bandwidth to handle streaming data packets.
To make VoIP more attractive for business users, carriers add a variety of custom features, such as call routing, voicemail transcription, group calling, and video conferencing. Depending on your business needs, you have a variety of phone features to choose from, but as your workforce goes mobile, you also have to consider how those features will benefit remote workers.
Taking VoIP on the Road
Smartphones are ideal for mobile VoIP, because mobile VoIP can work over 3G, 4G, and GSM cellular networks, as well as over a Wi-Fi connection.
To take advantage of mobile VoIP, users need to have some kind of mobile VoIP software. Carriers such as Vonage offer mobile VoIP as an extension of their landline service. Other software companies, such as Skype, Vyke, and Truphone, offer standalone solutions that are installed as apps to deliver VoIP over Wi-Fi or an available cellular connection.
Businesses equip their road warriors with mobile VoIP to contain telephone costs.
In general, mobile VoIP offers better quality phone connections at much lower costs, especially for international calls. Rather than paying expensive carrier fees, international calls become virtually free with VoIP; it’s like making a local phone call.
Mobile VoIP services offer a number of advantages to business users, but they usually operate independently from the office VoIP phone service. By using a mobile VoIP app, smartphone users eliminate many of the limitations of cellular phone plans, such as consuming minutes, roaming charges, incoming call charges, and messaging limits. However, they still have to maintain separate services for their office and smartphone.
One popular workaround is to use VoIP find me/follow me features that allow you to forward your landline to your mobile phone. This makes it easier to receive incoming calls from the office or direct to your smartphone, but it doesn’t address issues such as outbound calls, consolidated voice mail, call routing, etc. You still are using two separate phone numbers.
Bringing the Office VoIP System to Your Smartphone
A better strategy is to find a way to extend your VoIP office line to include your smartphone. Having a single phone number means coworkers and customers can reach you at one extension, whether you are in the office or away from your desk. It also means that voice mail and other VoIP features follow you, so you don’t have to track multiple voice mailboxes or leave multiple phone numbers for returned calls.
Look for a solution that:
- Is not traditional VoIP, but rather a smartphone app that turns your mobile phone into an extension of your office VoIP line
- Is feature-rich, including capabilities such as auto-attendant, voice mail, hunt groups, group calling, smart directories, and more. For bonus points, look for live presence, call routing, and the ability to set your availability. When using mobile, make sure your outgoing caller ID appears just as it would from your office extension.
- Is cost-effective, ideally leveraging the same VoIP services for the office and to reach smartphone users, letting you use existing cellular phone service so there are no additional carrier or service fees
Mobile VoIP is an incredibly valuable tool for mobile employees, but you can get more from your office VoIP system with Spoke. Why not sign up for a free Spoke trial and see how much more valuable your VoIP service can be to remote workers without forcing them to install a mobile VoIP app? We think you’ll be impressed.