Ever since its introduction into modern communications, VoIP technology has been part of a revolution in telecommunications. Businesses and individuals have recognized the versatility and ease-of-use that comes with VoIP, replacing their traditional landline phones with VoIP-enabled devices.
This article examines what VoIP softphones are, how they work, factors that affect the quality of service, and how to choose the right VoIP service provider.
What are VoIP Softphones?
To begin, VoIP is an acronym that stands for “Voice over Internet Protocol.” Colloquially, VoIP has become the most common name for making calls over the Internet using a compatible device (i.e. smartphones, desktops, laptops, or other specialized devices). Essentially, VoIP softphones are software or devices that come equipped with VoIP software.
How VoIP Softphones Work
The process involves two parts: First, the softphone converts analog voice signals into a digital format that can be sent over the internet. Second, those digital packets are then “reassembled” back into a facsimile of the original analog voice signals to function like a traditional phone, by way of software or a VoIP service provider.
Factors that Affect the Quality of VoIP Service
Not all VoIP softphones and VoIP service providers are the same. While it is impossible to chart out which service providers offer the best quality based on their many differences, the following items can be used to judge whether a service is right for your business model or regular usage:
- Codecs: Available and selected VoIP codecs in the softphone and or VoIP phone. This includes proprietary codecs that may influence versatility or which service providers are compatible. Some default VoIP codecs used by the VoIP service provider to connect customers to its network may try to steer its clients towards different pricing tiers for improved quality.
- Internet Connection: The internet bandwidth of the VoIP service provider’s network, as well as the Internet connection speed and reliability of the softphone or VoIP phone will affect the call quality. Similarly, various network security, firewall and, VPN applications can block reliable connections in the internal network of the business or user.
- Pricing: Because VoIP is a highly-competitive industry, many lower-tier service providers lower the overall service quality to accommodate lower margins, forcing other service providers to work with lowest-tier carriers. This cost-saving measure results in spotty quality, dropped calls, and unintelligible connections.
How to Choose the Right VoIP Softphone
All of these should be taken into consideration, though it may be difficult to determine how good a service is without actually using it. Therefore, it is useful to understand other factors that differentiate business VoIP service providers and VoIP softphones on the market. These include:
- Years of Operation: The number of years the company has been in business is a testament to the quality of their service. After all, lower-tier companies tend to go bust as they lose customers to shoddy service and complications. Established companies, like Global Call Forwarding, are in business because they have the resources necessary to make business easier for their long-term business clients.
- Service Features: The various service features that service providers offer for their VoIP calling can be a definitive deciding factor for businesses and individuals. For instance, a VoIP service provider that doesn’t offer virtual phone numbers may prove problematic for businesses that want to expand their business while having a legitimate phone number to appear on a call recipient’s caller ID. Similarly, a service provider that doesn’t easily integrate call recording may be useless to a business that operates in the global financial sector, where accountability is necessary to operate a cross-border business.
- Global Footprint: VoIP technology is partially dependent on the physical location and global footprint of the company’s network. A company that doesn’t have a global reach may have to sacrifice in terms of its call quality, customer service department, language barriers, and other unforeseeable factors.
- Pricing Plans: Some VoIP softphones come with their own pricing plans, which often differ from heavy business-usage to sporadic individual use. Others offer a one-size-fits-all approach to appeal to certain target markets, while Global Call Forwarding offers a broad range of services to fit small businesses and large businesses based on their usage. Additionally, GCF offers free trials for companies to test-drive their VoIP service, which can save companies from “buyers remorse” when they realize that the paid service from other service providers doesn’t fit their business model. Some companies may try to tie customers into long-term contracts when a per-usage model, like GCF, fits modern businesses better.
- Control Panel/ Dashboard: The VoIP softphone software itself needs to be easy to use and understand for your employees and it needs to integrate seamlessly. Online control panels and dashboards need to be intuitive, while also offering options that can scale to a client’s needs. Global Call Forwarding’s VoIP service comes equipped with an efficient interface that reduces training time and works with any device, making retrofitting your pre-existing hardware a cinch.