In a general sense, you’re going to devices geared towards VoIP, not the old phone lines you were using. You’ll need phones (handsets); an IP gateway or a way to convert your voice calls into IP packets to put on the internet wire if you will, and of course an internet connection with VoIP Devices like an IP enabled router and firewall to make sure the packets come and go to the right phone and to protect yourself from the nasties on the internet.
Let’s start out by saying there are more ways to do VoIP and more types of VoIP devices than there are trees in the forest. The bottom line falls in place as follows with regard to VoIP devices:
Small business / SOHO users – many times can get away with buying a VoIP device upfront, maybe a simple analog adapter like Magic Jack, or a router with gateway and then IP or proprietary handsets. The calls may be “unlimited” for a fee, or perhaps “free”.
Of course nothing’s ever free, and so if you decide to buy a “free service” because you’re paying a bunch of money upfront for the VoIP Devices, I’d make sure the company offering it is going to be around for as long as you plan to be making “free phone calls”. This is not easy in the world of VoIP startups.
Only Need One Or Two Lines?
A word of caution, don’t pay for multiple years upfront on this kind of “Free” stuff, because this technology is getting less and less expensive. Also by not paying upfront for three or five years, you avoid the embarrassing situation when the VoIP provider goes out of business next month, and maybe even takes your phone number with them.
Of course, this makes it impossible for you to salvage all that marketing and those business cards you’ve invested in, not to mention the loss of the money for the five years “unlimited” plan you paid $29.95 per line, per year for. Of course, the worst part is your Mamma gets a weird busy signal when she calls you after an event of this nature <;-)
Larger mid-market and small enterprise businesses – You’ll be buying an IP PBX to put in your Telco room or data center, or use a hosted IP PBX service. Both these options use IP handsets, sometimes with additional devices like a VoIP switch, VoIP router, VoIP firewall or VoIP gateways in between to make it all work properly.
With these options, you’ll be using SIP trunks most likely, although hosted PBX generally comes with everything you need (SIP is basically the VoIP version of phone lines). You’ll need at least one very reliable Internet connection; a VoIP firewall (to pass the VoIP packets thru quickly and not be blocked) and maybe even some backup phone lines to make sure you can always make and receive phone calls.
Here They Are
VoIP Devices Lined Up In A Row
It’s all pretty straight forward:
Small Business Phone Systems – How to choose VoIP small business phone systems, key metrics you simply must know if you’re going to buy a system.
VoIP Handset – Generally comes with a VoIP business phone system. The actual telephone you’ll have on your desk unless you’re going to keep your old analog phone and use an ATA A.K.A. VoIP Phone Adapters – see below.
Wireless VoIP Headset – Three types, one has a USB connection for softphone (PC) use, the others can be used with an analog Phone and VoIP Adapter or a stand-alone IP handset.
Internet without a phone line – Why so many people ask me about this I have no idea. I wrote an article to explain the options in any event. The VoIP devices involved here can be any number of things that enable you to still do VoIP, but without using a phone line for internet access.
VoIP Wireless Phone – Many options here, mostly “hot spot” concepts, but many with cellular phones (radios) as well.
VoIP Business Phones. Choosing and then using VoIP Business Phones can be tricky. Avoid the major pitfalls by learning what required in the best business phone handsets and VoIP phone service.
VoIP Phone Adapters – Required equipment if you’re a small office or residential user, want to use VoIP and gonna keep your analog handsets so you don’t have to buy new ones.
Internet Video Phone – I don’t know what the heck this is, but I’ll research it and let you know <:O)
VoIP Router – These things generally will assure you can shape the IP traffic coming and going from your business to assure good quality business VoIP phone service.
VoIP Switch – Goes on your LAN and can be configured to allow for priority and security of the VoIP data stream to reduce latency and also keep conversations from being intercepted by others on your network.
VoIP Firewall – Goes between the VoIP router and the Internet connection. If properly implemented, this is your first line of defense when it comes to avoiding viruses, spam, and other nasty stuff. It can also be used to keep your employees from visiting non-business websites and doing personal stuff on the internet, thus keeping your bandwidth usage at a minimum.