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Internet phone: Time to jump on the bandwagon?

Jun 10, 2014 @ 9:13 am

By Sheryl Rowling

voice over internet protocol, voip, internet phone, technology
+ Zoom

After spending four weeks in France relying on a voice over internet protocol (VoIP) phone, I was impressed with how well it worked. But I’ve been using it in my office for some time.

In my opinion, VoIP is the right solution for “regular” office needs. My vacation experience showed me just how flexible VoIP phones can be.

I'll start with what VoIP is, from the viewpoint of a "non-techie." Voice over internet protocol is simply an Internet phone. Because it is Internet based, there is no need for an expensive phone system. You only need a service provider, an Internet connection and some device (a computer, smartphone or laptop).

With VoIP, you can use a physical telephone or a "soft" phone. The soft phone can be software on your computer with or without headphones or an app on your cell phone. At my office, we use both: physical phones in the office and soft phones out of the office. If convenient, you can even take your physical phone with you. Plug it in and it works anywhere!

VoIP provides all of the bells and whistles including forwarding, ring groups, caller IDs, auto-attendant options, and voicemail to e-mail. Keep in mind that this flexible, inexpensive solution comes with a major caveat: It is an emerging technology that is 100 percent reliant on the Internet. Thus, you need to be prepared for a choppy connection at times. Whether in the office or on the road, a VoIP phone needs a reliable, high-speed, high-quality Internet connection. If you can’t get that, forget VoIP.

Is VoIP perfect? No. Do I recommend it? Yes. It works very well for my company. Maybe you should check it out and see if it can work for you.

Sheryl Rowling is chief executive of Total Rebalance Expert and principal at Rowling & Associates. She considers herself a non-techie user of technology.

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