The SIP and VoIP terminology have been used interchangeably in reference to business phone service over the internet. Technically, this is incorrect. SIP, or Session Initiation Protocol, is the underlying protocol that enables communication to occur over the internet from a variety of sources, like video, data, and voice. VoIP, or Voice over Internet Protocol, only represents voice packets being sent between endpoints over the internet.
When referencing phone devices, it is more appropriate to use the VoIP terminology. However, the marketplace understands that the terms have become interchangeable between SIP phones, VoIP phones and even IP phones.
There are a variety of options available to businesses looking to utilize SIP protocol for their phone service. VoIP phones are specifically designed to deliver voice packets over the office ethernet network and out over the internet. When inspecting a VoIP desk phone, one will note that it does not include any type of port for analog wiring.
Instead there is an ethernet port to connect to the office internet. Most VoIP phones also have a pass-through ethernet port to allow the phone to essentially operate as a switch to other devices requiring an ethernet connection, like a computer. This allows for two devices to share the same office ethernet connection.
VoIP desk phones have also improved over the years to include built-in WiFi connectivity. This allows the phone to be connected to the office network without an ethernet connection. When built-in WiFi is not available, most VoIP phones have USB ports and an optional WiFi adapter. The adapter plugs into a USB port, which connects to the office WiFi network.
Utilizing a Hosted VoIP phone service has many benefits. These desk phones can operate at any location where they can connect to the internet. Business employees working from home can connect to their home network and operate just as if they were at the office. Many home offices are not set up with ethernet connections, so utilizing the WiFi connection options are a great solution for these applications.
VoIP phones have evolved from alternative devices to VoIP desk phones. These include software applications (soft phones) that can be set up on a computer or mobile device. Computer-based soft phones are essentially an application that utilizes SIP protocols to make and receive phone calls when the application is opened on the computer and the computer is connected to the internet. It is recommended that heavy users of desktop soft phones also use a headset with a microphone for noise cancellation and call quality.
There are also soft phone applications that reside on mobile devices. When the app is turned on, calls can be made and received on the mobile device. These calls utilize SIP protocol and run over the mobile device’s data connection.
Outgoing calls made when using the app deliver the caller ID of the business and not the cell phone number. Mobile soft phones essentially operate like a desk phone at the office. Calls to the user’s direct dial number or extension will be received and can be handled accordingly. They can be transferred to another extension, included in a multi-party conference call, recorded, placed on hold, etc.
VoIP phones are specifically designed for services using SIP protocol. Thus, traditional analog phones do not operate the same way and cannot be used on a VoIP service without any kind of analog converter. Businesses moving from traditional analog phone services to a VoIP phone service will be required to purchase VoIP desk phones or soft phones.
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