A quick guide to Internet Protocol Telephony

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Internet Protocol Telephony (IPT), also known as Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), is revolutionising the way we do business. It offers a flexible, cost effective alternative to a traditional PSTN system (Public Switched Telephone Network), and is taking the business world by storm.

So how does it work?

Well, in a nutshell IPT allows you to place the telephone calls you would normally make on a phone line, over the internet using broadband or leased line technology and an IP-enabled handset or headset.

How do I get started?

You need to have a good, reliable internet connection and IP-enabled telephone handsets. You will also need to find an IPT provider, who will set the system up for you, usually charging a one-off set up charge to install the necessary hardware, and a monthly charge for your IPT number.

Why IPT?

The main benefit of IP Telephony is the cost savings. All calls made within an IPT network are free of charge, and that includes external calls to other IPT users on other networks. Calls to regular telephone networks also carry a lower rate when made through IPT.

IPT also offers increased worker flexibility. With IPT employees can use a softphone or plug in a handset and make and receive calls on their main business number from anywhere with an internet connection, completing the virtual office package. Calls can also be transferred to them via their usual office-based extension number, whether they are working from home, a hotel, conference room or abroad.

It can also be used as part of an IT disaster recovery plan, ensuring seamless continuation of voice communication in the event of a disaster which renders a company’s main place of business or telephone lines unusable. If the worst happens, and your offices become damaged or destroyed, you can have your business telephone line working within minutes from any alternative location with a broadband connection.

So what’s hosted IPT?

You can think of hosted IPT, or hosted VoIP, as cloud computing for your phone system. So, rather than hosting the phone system in your office on a server, you rent server space from your provider, and they host it for you in their server rooms or data centre.

The major advantage of this is that it removes the need to purchase costly hardware, and you effectively turn your capital cost into a running cost. It also reduces maintenance costs as the hardware is managed and maintained by your supplier, making purchasing a new communication system more affordable, and ultimately more reliable.

IP Telephony is the future of business comms as we know it. Although traditional PSTN systems with their proven reliability are still widely used by businesses large and small, the cost and flexibility benefits that IPT brings are setting the foundations for it to take the business world by storm.

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In 2001 Graham Fern founded Axon IT along with business partner Mike Agutter, with a limited budget and zero investment. Within just a few months the company had won major accounts including Tarmac and British Gypsum, and in the 9 years since, the business has grown successfully to boast a turnover of more than £800,000 and 12 employees.