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SIP Softphones:
What are they, and how to set one up?

business softphone

A SIP softphone is an application that allows you to place and receive calls on a virtual phone that runs on the open source SIP protocol. A common term for the standard that allows voice chat is VoIP. SIP is a protocol that allows you to share voice, video chat, presence, text messages, documents and more.  A SIP softphone is the software that runs on your computer, phone or tablet that allows you to communicate with someone else.

 

You can use hard phones or softphones to connect to SIP.  Hard phones look like a regular desk phone, but often have more robust features.  If you’re quite familiar with physical phones and love the buttons and the feel of a handset in your hand, you may want to consider a hard phone as an option. Just plug an ethernet cable in the back, sign in to your account and you can start calling if you have a cloud based provisioning system.

 

Even if you do use a hard phone, you should also consider a softphone. A SIP softphone is software that simulates a phone on your computer, tablet or mobile phone. It allows you to connect to the SIP or VoIP network and receive and place calls.  When the software launches it often simulates the look of a phone on your computer. There are buttons like a regular phone, and it can connect to the address book on your computer, so any contact information you have stored can be used to place calls. When someone calls you, if their name and number is in your address book you’ll get to see who is calling you.

 

If you’re an enterprise, you can connect to a corporate LDAP repository and pull in your entire company contact list.  You can connect to an LDAP, Active Directory or a cloud hosted CRM and pull in contacts so it’s easy for your team to reach out to key contacts with reliable information. If you’re using some of the powerful enterprise features of Bria Enterprise, you can provision accounts and contacts right to someone’s softphone from the cloud.

To use a softphone you’ll need a microphone and speakers connected to your computer.  For the best experience using a softphone you’ll want to use a headset.  You can get a headset with a microphone that extends in front of your mouth to pick up high quality audio, or you can invest more in a set of headphones with a high quality microphone built in.  If you get a high quality set of headphones it will pick up excellent audio from your voice.  If you’re using your mobile phone, you can download an app that will simulate a SIP phone, and you have the choice of using a headset or the built in mic and speakers in your device. The advantage of a softphone is that you can download the software on your computer, mobile phone and any other devices and when you sign into your account you can choose how calls are handled.  If you’re in the office, you can place or take a call on your computer, but if you’re on the move you can have a call come through to your mobile phone.

SIP softphone

How to set up an SIP Softphone

To set up a softphone, you’ll need to have an account with a SIP or VoIP provider.  If you’re using a provisioning server such as the Stretto™ Platform, then as a user there is very little work to do.  Your administrator can pre-configure your account.  So all that’s left for you to do is download, log in and start placing and receiving calls. Your administrator can identify what accounts, systems and features should be on your phone and track usage. You just log in and start communicating.

 

To set up a softphone if you don’t have an administrator you’ll need to identify what SIP or VoIP service you’re using and follow the specific configuration steps. You’ll need to identify a few key settings around whether you want to use WiFi for calls or a mobile signal if you’re using your phone. You’ll need to connect your headset or set your microphone and speakers if you’re using a computer. You’ll also need to identify the right codecs and settings for the service you’re using. For a full list of our partners and integrations please see here: https://www.counterpath.com/partners

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