Modern telephone systems have changed dramatically in the past few years.  With the rapid uptake of VoIP by the general business market, telephone systems are now squarely targeted and designed with this in mind. (You can view the full range of telephone systems available here)

So what types of VoIP functionality do telephone systems offer?

Basically there are two types of IP or VoIP.  Firstly there are VoIP phone lines and carrier services and the second is IP handsets.  In spite of what many customers believe the two are not intrinsically linked.  You can have VoIP or SIP phone lines on telephone systems without having IP handsets and vice versa.

Different VoIP phone lines available

Basically there are several types of VoIP phone lines available.  The most popular, and arguably most effective, type of VoIP is called SIP trunking.  SIP is technology usually only found on current model telephone systems.  Unlike other methods that convert VoIP into PSTN or ISDN cards on phone systems, SIP is a straight service that effectively plugs SIP phone lines straight into telephone systems.  There is no middle connection and as such is the preferred method.

Lesser VoIP providers often use ATA’s or gateways to convert the signal into VoIP.  For this type of service you can basically use any telephone systems irrespective of age.  SIP trunking is definitely the better technology however the reason most customers move to VoIP is for cheaper calls and to remove expensive line rentals.  In either case both technologies will achieve this outcome.

VoIP or IP handsets

Many current telephone systems are hybrid in nature.  This means you can plug in almost any type of handset – analogue, digital, IP, IP DECT etc.  The composition of handsets you ultimately choose has a massive bearing on the overall cost of telephone systems.   As mentioned, just because you are looking to save money with IP phone calls doesn’t mean you also have to choose more expensive IP handsets.  90% of customers would see little or no benefit in having IP handsets on their telephone systems.  In reality, they would actually save money by implementing their cheaper digital counterparts and experience no detriment to the user experience.  With many brands the IP and digital handsets look identical and it’s only the network switch inside the IP variants that make them more expensive.

If you have remote workers, limited cabling infrastructure or want the expensive touch screens models with web browsers and XML applications then IP handsets are the right way to go.  For everyone else you should save your money and not listen to the pushy salesperson telling you to go IP.

VoIP and IP telephone systems are here to stay and the great news is you don’t need to start with VoIP and can simply keep what you have for the meantime.  You can easily migrate modern telephone systems to VoIP in the future when you’re ready.