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VoIP & Unified Communications:
A Complete Guide

SIP Endpoints

What is VoIP?

VoIP is a name for internet telephony, allowing you to use the internet to place and receive calls.  Instead of using your desk phone or your mobile phone to make calls, you can use an application on your computer or an app on your phone to make calls.  It’s a fairly well known technology, especially when it comes to those looking to run a business, control costs, and provide communication tools to a large team. The cost savings and rich feature set are enticing to savvy business leaders. 

VoIP and Unified Communications

If you’re a modern business, your organization likely needs more than just a telephone. In that case, you’re likely interested in a richer feature set including; instant messaging, video calls, media distribution (sending files and images), conferencing and more. You will likely be very interested in a new protocol SIP – that builds on the framework of VOIP but also provides this additional functionality and more.

SIP Endpoints

Why would you use VoIP & Unified Communications?

When considering making a change, it’s important to understand the value of the new solution.  In order to make a solid business case to make a change in your organization you should ensure there are strong reasons to support the change. A few of the key reasons to adopt a VoIP or SIP-based Unified Communications platform are as follows:

Affordability of VoIP & Unified Communications

The cost of provisioning is much lower with a VoIP or SIP-based solution. International or long distance calls are significantly less expensive. Today, many mobile providers block international calls by default as a courtesy, but it can be challenging to enable long-distance on certain corporate accounts.

Scalability of VoIP & Unified Communications

Your network administrator can provision and remove accounts quickly and simply through an admin interface. You don’t need to call in a service person to install lines, or reroute lines – everything is digital.  Your admin team can make changes from anywhere in the world.  A cloud-based provider also means you have powerful scalability behind your technical infrastructure.

Reliability of VoIP & Unified Communications

You can identify the right balance of reliability and cost for your business.  There is a wide variety of providers that ensure a high Quality of Service, and you have the control to make changes to your provider to ensure your team gets an excellent experience.

Independent Network Access

Unlike dedicated services that fix your phone service to a specific address, you can take your number, your configurations, and your settings to a wide variety of partners.  You have control of where your network goes and what provider connects your team to your customers.

Redundancy and Disaster Recovery

The SIP protocol has re-routing built right in, and most providers have highly redundant environments that can be managed from anywhere in the world. 

What are VoIP providers?

VoIP providers are companies and services that allow you to connect and make calls. You need to download software on your phone or computer and connect to a VoIP provider in order to place and accept calls. Rather than sourcing software and finding a provider and exploring if the combination is a match, CounterPath provides many ways you can quickly and easily download and go with their tools. As a small business, you can download Bria Teams and quickly and easily get up and running and bring the rest of your team on the account.  If you’re an enterprise or large business, implementing the Stretto Platform by CounterPath allows you to have a centralized admin for creating and rolling out new accounts.  Your admin team can have full control of all settings and configurations and roll out new accounts based on roles and pre-configured settings.  Your team just has to download the software, log in, and everything auto-configures for them according to your specifications.  They just download, login and they’re ready to go.

How do you use VoIP and Unified Communication providers?

The first thing you need to get going with VoIP is software. You’ll need a program called a softphone, that replicates the features and functionality of a phone on your computer or mobile device.  It will look a lot like the phone screen on your mobile phone, but it will be connecting to a VoIP network rather than a mobile network.  The costs will be much lower and you’ll have better control of the experience.  If you use a software tool like Bria Teams or Bria Enterprise, you’ll have additional functionality beyond just calls, as we’ll discuss more below.  

You’ll also need a VoIP provider. You’ll need a service that provides the core routing to the internet – much like how when you get a computer, you still need a WiFi connection to access the internet.  The advantage of using a service like the one that CounterPath provides is you get both elements, the software and the service combined. You can still select your own VoIP or SIP service if you have specific needs, but CounterPath makes the process easy if you’re looking to get up and running quickly.

Beyond VoIP - SIP

As a modern business, your team likely expects more than just a voice connection to keep in touch with other team members and customers.  If your team uses voice, video, instant messaging, and file-sharing services to get work done and keep in touch with clients, you can roll all of those services into one with Unified Communications.  SIP is a newer more flexible protocol than VoIP and carries much more than just voice. You can roll out a powerful set of communication features to your team, just as easily and simply as you would with VoIP through CounterPath. You can provide all these powerful communication features in one high-quality user experience that provides crisp audio, clear video, and fast messaging. Your technical team will love it as it’s easy to roll out, and provides robust and thorough metrics about the quality of service, usage metrics, and more.

Overview of Features in Unified Communications

While simple to administer and roll-out, VoIP and Unified Communications provide a powerful set of features for your team.   

Crisp, clear audio

The core of great communication is being able to hear the person on the other end of the line. Now with more of us working from home, or at various locations, ensuring you can hear the other person is essential. The crisp, clear audio of VoIP and Unified Communications will ensure you get to hear every bit of what your team is saying.

HD video

Beyond voice calls, Unified Communications provide an excellent video calling feature, where you can quickly and easily launch a video call between two or more people. Being able to meet face to face regardless of location helps teams and business interactions remain engaged and adds a level of more personal interaction.  

Messaging

While not as flashy as video, messaging is a powerful communication tool in today’s business world. And instant messaging tools that show you whether the other person is online or away from their desk are very useful.  Even more useful is the idea that right from that text conversation, you can share documents, spark a video or voice call with one person or multiple.

File sharing

Unified communication solutions can also enable your team to transfer files, such as Microsoft Word and PowerPoint documents, photos, and videos within messages to further collaboration within conversations versus having them lost in emails.

Enterprise Video Conferencing

Collaboration tools

The ability to quickly create a group through instant messaging and step into a video or voice call means your team can collaborate quickly and easily. You can share an agenda or planning document with a group through instant messaging, collect the soonest time you can all meet, and then launch a video or voice conference to connect. Your team can be at home or the office and everyone will have a first-class communication experience through the high-quality audio, video, and user experience of CounterPath tools. 

Video conference virtual meeting rooms 

Sometimes you need to connect with partners, vendors, or customers that are not on your internal tools. CounterPath video conferencing virtual meeting rooms provide a robust set of collaboration tools for not only internal teams but also web conferencing capabilities for external participants with the same high-quality and consistency. Video conference in 1080p, share your screen, and host in-room chat with up to 200 participants.

BYOD

Your team often has devices they love, that their whole lives are on. You don’t want to buy them yet another device, but you need to ensure corporate security requirements are met. CounterPath VoIP and Unified Communication tools provide the ideal solution. Your team can download apps onto their preferred device, with calling and user management centralized by IT or an office administrator, and as soon as they log in your corporate calling account and security preferences are downloaded to the device. Your team can use the devices they love and your IT team can ensure that security and management requirements are met. And if a team member leaves, their account can be suspended by IT and the app no longer works on their device.

Easy to use yet powerful administration 

As a large company or enterprise, you may have a sizable team that requires hundreds or even thousands of profiles to be rolled out and managed. CounterPath Bria solutions are back-ended by their Stretto Platform, which provides secure provisioning and user management tools to support Bria softphone apps. Depending on the Bria solution, administrators can create roles and groups that bundle settings, so rolling out new users is easy, or simply manage calling accounts and credentials from one central platform. There are also robust analytic and voice quality monitoring tools that allow administrators to proactively identify possible call quality problems and remotely troubleshoot end-user issues.

Interested in a VoIP and Unified Communication solution?

Get in touch with our team today.