VoIP has taken a strong position in the communication market. By end of this year, it is estimated that nearly 45% of all companies in the US will be using IP communication channels exclusively. What this means is that these companies would have given up their TDM or PSTN lines completely.
Before we start looking at endpoints or telephones to use with VoIP, let’s take a quick look at how VoIP works.
VoIP works on what are called IP channels. This is the same media that is used for connecting your computers to the Internet. When you speak, your voice is converted to digital data, transmitted across the Net and reconverted back to analog voice signals at the other end. In contrast to a regular phone where each phone has a number, in IP communication each user is identified by an IP address. If you use the same IP address for all your calls, your name can be linked to that particular IP address. In addition, there is something called a virtual number where a ten digit numeric number can be assigned to a particular IP address.
When someone calls you, he or she calls you on the IP address or your ID linked to the IP address.
What are Endpoints?
Again, when we were using PSTN, we had just a phone or telephone device that we used. So the nomenclature ‘telephone’ became very common. With IP communication, on the other hand, a large number of devices can be used – phones, desktop computers, laptops, tablets, and smartphones. All of these are called endpoints, or end point devices.
Analog, Digital, and IP Phones
Let’s set aside computing devices such as desktop computers, laptops, and tablets, and focus on phones that can be used with IP communication.
Traditional telephones are called analog phones. They use a pair of wires that connect to your local EPABX. These wires carry a 50-volt current and this current is also used to carry the voice data.
In the 1990s, technology improved a lot and telephone exchanges went digital. They started carrying more data, including the called number, calling number, etc., which could be displayed on digital phones. The digital phones by themselves started having displays, voicemail, and local memory that stored numbers and even names of people you call regularly. They also have programmable buttons that could execute a series of tasks.
With the popularity of IP communication, a new breed of phones has arrived. These are called by different names, but the most common or relevant ones are IP Phones.
IP phones are made for IP communications. IP phones have more intelligence and have been designed to understand and work with Internet Protocols. An IP phone can register itself on the network, transmit an IP address, and has an inbuilt analog-to-digital (ADC) and digital-to-analog (DAC) convertors. An IP phone has the following features:
Network Interface – An IP Phone can be connected directly to an Ethernet port and has 10/100Base-T connectivity with up to 1Gbps data transmission speeds.
Multiple Line Support – Most IP phones can handle up to 10 concurrent calls. You can switch between the calls using a button.
Full IP Support – IP phones can natively understand HTTP and Internet protocol. They can thus work directly with IP communication systems.
Large Phone Book – IP phones have large memory and can store close to 200 IP addresses or IDs. You can use these IDs to know who is calling or call a person with a single touch. IP phones can also download directories from the IP PBX or server when needed.
Calling features – IP phones support call forwarding, call transfer, 3-way calling, call/retrieval, speed dial, voicemail, message waiting, call history, and a number of other features.
Full Duplex Speakers – IP phones come with full Duplex speakers that offer superior sound. You can use these speakers to have a phone conversation, or hear announcements without lifting the handset.
Toshiba Phones from The Office Phone
The Office Phone proudly offers to its clients the following advanced phones from Toshiba:
5000 Series Digital Business Telephones – available in eight models, these phones have large displays, programmable buttons, and pure digital clarity. More details of these phones are available here.
5000 Series IP Telephones – Available as multiple models, these come with large backlit display, up to 20 programmable buttons, and a host of features we explained above. More details are available here.