VoIP, or Voice over Internet Protocol, is a technology that allows you to make and receive calls using a broadband Internet connection instead of a traditional telephone line. Many users opt in for Internet telephony to lower the telco expenses and enjoy increased functionality.
While it is notorious for not requiring specialized hardware, many users still opt in for additional gadgets to make the experience even more reliable and enjoyable. In this guide, we’ll take a look at some of the different hardware options available and help you choose the right one for your needs, so let’s get right to it!
Types of Equipment You Will Need
1. VoIP Phone
VoIP phones are typically connected to the Internet using an Ethernet cable or over Wi-Fi, and they convert your voice into smaller pieces called data packets that are then transmitted over the network to the receiver end.
Types Of VoIP Phones
Users can choose between hardphones and softphones to conduct their calls. Both offer a number of advantages over traditional telephone services, including lower costs, greater flexibility, and enhanced call quality.
- Hardphones are stand-alone devices that look like regular phones. They come in a variety of shapes and sizes, and can be fixed-line or cordless. Some hardphones even come with features like color screens, support for multiple lines, and built-in cameras.
- Softphones, on the other hand, are software that can be installed on your computer, tablet or smartphone. They are becoming increasingly popular because they can offer features that a regular phone can’t, such as echo cancellation and static or adaptive jitter buffers. In addition, these devices often include caller ID, call waiting, voicemail, and other features that are also typically found on traditional landlines.
2. Analog Telephone Adapter
If you want to connect your analogue phone or PBX to VoIP, you are in need of an Analog Telephone Adapter (ATA). ATAs are a popular solution for businesses that want to transition to VoIP, but don’t want to invest in new hardware or rewire their existing lines.
These devices translate between the analog audio signals used by legacy phones and the digital compressed signals used by VoIP services. ATAs typically have one or two ports – one to connect to a single line or a small number of telephones, and another for connecting to a router or other network hardware.
Routers are networking devices that route calls from your phone to the internet. They convert phone signals into digital data that can be transmitted over the internet. When a router receives a data packet, it looks at the destination address to see where the packet needs to go. The router then uses its internal routing table to determine the best way to get the packet to its destination. It will also keep track of how many hops the packet has taken and make sure it doesn’t get caught in a loop.
There are many features that make a router an effective part of IP phone systems. Quality of Service (QoS), NAT translation, H.323 and SIP support are some examples. NAT translation allows a router to change the source and destination address of a packet as it travels between networks. This can be used to conceal the true IP addresses of devices on a network. QoS helps limit bandwidth usage by prioritizing certain types of traffic, such as voice or video, while H.323 and SIP are VoIP protocols that support voice and video calls.
Types of Routers
Hardware and software-based routers are the two main types.
- Hardware routers are physical devices that can be either wired or wireless. Wired routers connect devices using Ethernet cables, while a wireless router broadcasts an Internet signal that can be picked up by any wireless-enabled device within range.
- Software routers replicate the functions of the hardware routers, except they can be installed as software on another hardware device such as your PC.
VoIP headsets are hardware accessories that enable VoIP calls, and are a great way to improve your call quality and experience. Headsets have a built-in microphone that makes it easy and convenient to converse with your customers, while keeping your hands free.
Even though VoIP headsets aren’t a part of the required hardware equipment and can be avoided altogether, there are certain advantages that set them apart and almost classify it as a ‘must’ piece of equipment.
- Comfort: if you’ve ever had a sore arm after a long day of calling, you know how frustrating it can be. That’s because most phones are designed for use with your hands, which can get tiring after a while.
- Superior Sound Quality: echo cancellation, noise-canceling microphone, and ability to filter out ambient noise can drastically improve your call quality. The best headsets also have basic wideband audio support, HD voice calling and adjustable volume controls to elevate your calling experience.
- Mobility: wireless headsets allow you to make calls without being tied to a specific location. This allows you to multitask and move around when on the call thanks to Bluetooth or USB adapter. To ensure ultimate mobility check for the range of the headsets and make sure that it fits your individual needs.
Configuration and Settings
When setting up your VoIP solution, the first thing you need to do is a complete PBX installation. Usually, this requires an IT technician, however with so many cloud-based solutions, installation could virtually take up to a couple of minutes and require zero tech expertise.
Please note, it’s not uncommon that the VoIP providers have their own list of suggested equipment. This is often because not all hardware works with all providers. Before committing to one or the other, make sure that they will be able to interact once the VoIP system is set up. Once all devices are connected and the installation is complete, you can now proceed to configure the system and hardware to match your needs by following the instructions attached.
Consider the Security
VoIP has previously come under scrutiny due to security issues. However, as the time progresses both software and hardware are designed to ensure maximum protection to their users. As a rule of thumb, you must complete software updates on your hardware devices and ensure correct maintenance to avoid any system vulnerabilities. This is an essential practice to keeping your network and data safe and protected.
Hardware is a vital component of VoIP telephony, even though in the majority of cases you can reuse your existing devices to set up Internet telephony. Basic hardware requirements include a phone and a router for a high-speed Internet connection. Headsets should be considered as an additional hardware option to improve functionality.
VoIP hardware can be complex and expensive, so it’s important to do your research before making a purchase. Luckily, there are a lot of resources available on Voip-Info.org. Whether you’re looking for a basic setup or something more robust, the website can help you with all you need to make an informed decision.