For example, most businesses are concerned with maintaining growth, increasing profits, preparing for uncertain market conditions and making the most of modern technology.
For many businesses, this last issue is a particularly important one.
The digital revolution has ushered in a whole ream of new technologies. Some of these certainly have the ability to dramatically improve a business’s operations – with those companies most open to technological change often becoming the most successful. But knowing where to invest your resources can be difficult.
As a partial remedy (as a unified communications specialist, our expertise only stretches so far) we’re going to assess just one technology that many businesses rely on. The technology we’re looking at is telephony, which, since the advent of digital tech, has changed a lot.
Our goal is to help business owners understand how telephony has changed, as well as to give them an understanding of the solutions that are available to them today.
Traditionally, business telephony has been conducted over the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN).
The PSTN is an aggregate of the world’s circuit-switched telephone networks. This huge network comprises of telephone lines, fibre optic cables, microwave transmission links, cellular networks, satellites and undersea telephone cables.
All of these are connected by switching centres, which allows near enough any telephone to communicate with another.
In the 1980s, the PSTN was augmented with the integrated Services Digital Networks ISDN – a set of communications standards that allow the simultaneous digital transmission of voice, video and data over the PSTN. Though this allowed for the transmission of digital signals, it still used the PSTN network.
Recently, BT announced that it would be switching off both PSTN and ISDN in 2025 – and that it will not be accepting new customers after 2020.
So what comes next?
The invention of the internet is perhaps the single most significant cultural, economic and social event in recent history.
The internet has fundamentally shifted the way we do, well, pretty much everything. From retail and dating to finance and news, it’s hard to think of an area that hasn’t been dramatically changed by the internet.
The same is true for telephony.
Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP services) are quickly replacing the PSTN and IDSN.
In short, VoIP works by converting sound into digital voice communication before transferring it through the internet.
Because VoIP uses the internet to make phone calls, those using it are often able to bypass the PSTN altogether. This makes VoIP calls much cheaper than traditional PSTN calls – especially when it comes to overseas calls.
VoIP solutions are also portable. All you need to start making and receiving calls is an internet connection – your number is not tied to a specific location. Additionally, VoIP is far more flexible and scalable than traditional ISDN-based business telephony. Companies are able to add additional and remove VoIP users almost instantly, without having to wait for installation or new hardware.
All of this may sound too good to be true. But you can take our word for it, it’s not. In fact, millions of UK companies are already making the most of the benefits VoIP offers.
VoIP is a general term. It refers to any telephony solution that uses the internet to send and receive voice communications.
In this article, we want to hone in on one specific type of VoIP technology: Session Initiation Protocol (SIP).
SIP defines the specific format of messages exchanged in the sequence of communications for cooperation of the participants. Essentially, it allows a device to send and receive packets of information that contain voice data.
Using SIP, voice becomes an application on the IP network, just like email or web. For businesses, SIP is often the most appropriate technology to replace their traditional voice services.
This is because SIP does not require physical infrastructure. Unlike a tradition phone services, you can add new lines to your SIP solution simply by connecting handsets to your data connection. You also do not have to invest in expensive hardware, since the solution will not be hosted on-site by you.
Additionally – and this will be music to your ears – those businesses that transition to SIP typically save 50 percent each month. With minimal upfront costs, businesses that transition to VoIP experience immediate ROI.
Some business owners are wary of using the internet to underpin their telephony service. In days gone by, for most users, the internet was much slower and unreliable. Today, however, this is not true. The internet is incredibly reliable and, unlike traditional telephony services, will not be affected by adverse weather conditions, issues in telephone switching rooms or problems with telephone poles going down. In fact, it is the internet’s newfound reliability that has emboldened BT to the decision to switch off the PSTN and IDSN altogether.
Elite Group is the leading unified communications and technology provider. If you’d like to find out more about SIP and how it can benefit your business, please get in touch.