IP Telephony 101: Your Guide to the Basics of Internet Calls


“Adopting the right technologies can be a game-changer for any organization, but understanding those technologies is key to successful implementation,” says Lawrence Guyot, our expert here at ETTE. And that definitely applies to IP Telephony.

As we progress further into the digital age, it’s crucial for businesses like your non-profit organization to keep pace with the evolving world of telecommunications. Traditional landline phone systems are gradually being replaced by more cost-effective and versatile alternatives such as IP Telephony.

IP Telephony, short for Internet Protocol Telephony, might seem complex at first. But in essence, it’s a technology that allows you to make voice calls, send faxes, and communicate various other forms of data over the internet rather than through traditional telephony methods. So, instead of sending analogue signals over a PSTN (Public Switched Telephone Network), IP Telephony converts these signals into digital data packets that can travel via a LAN (Local Area Network) or the internet.

Why is IP Telephony considered significant? For one, it brings with it colossal cost savings, alongside the incredible ability of scalability and mobility, revolutionizing the way we communicate on a business level.

Alright, let’s break this down for a quick bite:

IP Telephony (Internet Protocol Telephony):

  • It’s a technology that enables voice calls, faxes, and other communication forms over the internet.
  • Major benefits: Significant cost savings, increased mobility and scalability.
  • It can replace traditional phone lines, making your business communications much more efficient.

Note: For some, IP Telephony and VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) might seem interchangeable. However, there are subtle differences. But don’t worry, we’ll tackle this in the upcoming sections.

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In essence, understanding and harnessing the power of IP Telephony can postulate your non-profit organization on the path to major growth and digital transformation. So stick with us as we delve deeper into the world of IP Telephony in this guide!

Understanding the Basics of IP Telephony

What is IP Telephony?

IP telephony, also known as Internet Telephony, is a technology that enables voice communication and services traditionally provided by a regular telephone, but over the internet. In other words, it’s the technology that lets you make phone calls using an internet connection instead of a traditional landline.

At ETTE, we see IP telephony as a revolutionary tech because it’s changing the way businesses, including non-profits like yours, communicate.

How Does IP Telephony Work?

If you’ve ever wondered how IP telephony works, here’s a simple explanation from our expert, Lawrence Guyot.

IP telephone systems use the Internet Protocol (IP) to transfer voice communications over the internet. If you use an IP PBX system, the data is transferred digitally on a Local Area Network (LAN), then transformed to analog voice signals and sent to the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN).

However, due to high hardware and installation costs, IP PBX is no longer the leading solution. Today, hosted VoIP has become the most popular IP telephony solution. With hosted VoIP, your IP phone sends digital data over the internet to your provider, who handles the routing of calls and everything else in the cloud.

You can also use SIP trunking to connect a legacy IP PBX to a modern VoIP provider to take advantage of missing features.

The Difference Between IP Telephony and VoIP

The terms IP telephony and VoIP are often used interchangeably, but there’s a subtle difference between them.

As Lawrence Guyot defines, “IP telephony describes any system that fits within the internet-based telecommunications umbrella, including fax and other systems. On the other hand, VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) was more specific initially. It only referred to the technology used to make and receive phone calls over the internet.”

However, in recent years, even VoIP providers and telecommunications companies have started to use these terms interchangeably. Both IP telephony and VoIP cover phone systems that use a LAN to connect to the internet via a modem/router.

In essence, both IP telephony and VoIP are key components in the hosted phone system for small business that we provide at ETTE. They offer a range of features that can help your non-profit organization communicate more effectively and cost-efficiently.

The Benefits of IP Telephony

As Lawrence Guyot, our in-house expert at ETTE, would tell you, the adoption of IP telephony can bring a wealth of benefits to your small non-profit organization. These benefits range from significant cost savings to increased mobility and the ability to unify your organization’s communications.

Cost Savings with IP Telephony

One of the most notable advantages of IP telephony is the ability it gives organizations to make significant cost savings. Traditional wired phone services can prove expensive, especially when you factor in long-distance and international calls. IP telephony, on the other hand, harnesses the power of the internet to make these calls, resulting in a much more cost-effective solution. In fact, businesses switching to an unlimited VoIP plan can save up to 60% compared to a similar business landline plan.

Moreover, the deployment of IP telephony means you no longer need to maintain two separate networks for internet and phone. This further reduces your costs and simplifies your organization’s infrastructure. At ETTE, we’re always looking for ways to help you streamline operations and save on costs, which is why we recommend IP telephony as part of our voip business plans.

Mobility and Scalability of IP Telephony

IP telephony is not just about cost savings. It also offers increased mobility and scalability. With IP phones, your staff can stay connected beyond the physical office, accessing their phone line via portable computers and mobile devices. This is particularly beneficial for non-profit organizations, where staff may often be out in the field.

In terms of scalability, adding new IP business telephone lines is far simpler and easier than adding new wired phone lines. This is especially useful for growing organizations where new lines may frequently need to be added.

Unified Communications through IP Telephony

Finally, IP telephony enables unified communications within your organization. This means that voice calling, video calling, video conferencing, instant messaging, and even faxing can all be integrated and accessed through one platform. For example, faxes can be sent and received via email. This not only simplifies your communications infrastructure but also improves efficiency and productivity.

At ETTE, we understand the importance of unified communications, especially for small non-profit organizations. That’s why we offer a voip office phone system that integrates seamlessly with IP telephony and offers a host of advanced features without the need for extra hardware.

In conclusion, IP telephony can provide a multitude of benefits for your organization, from cost savings and increased mobility to unified communications. And with the right support, like that provided by our team at ETTE, you can make the most of these benefits and help your organization thrive in the digital age.

Key Features of IP Telephony

After understanding the benefits of IP telephony, let’s dive into its key features. These features are not just limited to voice calling but also extend to video calling and conferencing, instant messaging, text messaging, and faxing capabilities. By integrating these features into your business communication, you can streamline processes and enhance efficiency.

Video Calling and Conferencing

IP telephony supports video calling, allowing for one-on-one visual communication over the internet. However, it takes it a step further by offering video conferencing. This feature enables multiple individuals to participate in a video call simultaneously, making it an excellent tool for team meetings or client presentations. With Lawrence Guyot and our team at ETTE, you can easily incorporate this feature into your IP telephony setup.

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Instant Messaging and Text Messaging

Another key feature of IP telephony is its support for instant messaging (IM) and text messaging. These functionalities allow for quick, real-time communication, making it perfect for rapid-fire discussions or when voice and video calls are not feasible. Whether you’re sharing important updates or brainstorming ideas, IM and text messaging can be vital tools in your communication arsenal.

Faxing Capabilities

Fax might seem like an outdated technology, but it’s still relevant in many industries. Traditional faxing requires a dedicated phone line and a fax machine, but with IP telephony, you can send and receive faxes via email. This feature not only saves cost but also makes the process quicker and more efficient.

In conclusion, IP telephony offers a plethora of features that can significantly enhance your organization’s communication capabilities. With our expertise at ETTE, we can help you leverage these features to their full potential. If you’re interested in learning more about how IP telephony can benefit your small business, check out our guides on the best voip for small business and voip business plans.

Deployment Models and Protocols of IP Telephony

To cater to various business needs, IP telephony can be deployed in different ways. These deployment models range from a single-site model to a more complex clustering over the IP WAN model. Each model has its unique characteristics and is suitable for different business scenarios.

Single Site and Multisite WAN with Centralized Call Processing

In a single-site deployment model, the call processing agent is located at one site, and a Local Area Network (LAN) is used to manage internal traffic. Calls beyond the LAN use the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN). This model is simple and ideal for businesses operating from a single location.

On the other hand, if your business has a central site with multiple smaller sites, the Multisite WAN with centralized call processing might be a better fit. In this model, an IP WAN is used to transport voice data from one site to the other, with call control signaling carried via the IP WAN between the central site and external sites.

Multisite WAN with Distributed Call Processing

For businesses with multiple sites in different regions, the Multisite WAN with distributed call processing model is often the best choice. In this model, each site has its own call processing agent, ensuring reliable voice data transfer with no loss of functionality due to the presence of call processing agents at each site.

Clustering Over the IP WAN

Large organizations with users across several sites often opt for clustering over the IP WAN deployment model. This model connects each site via IP-WAN and offers benefits like a unified plan, shared line appearances, and feature transparency.

Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) and Other Protocols

Underlying these deployment models are various protocols that facilitate the operation of IP telephony. Among the most important is the Session Initiation Protocol (SIP), a signaling protocol that establishes a ‘session’ between two or more participants. Other key protocols include H.323 for initializing and terminating sessions, Real-Time Transport Protocol (RTP) for transmitting audio or video data, and Secure Real-Time Transport Protocol (SRTP) for adding security elements to the transmission.

Our expert at ETTE, Lawrence Guyot, emphasizes that understanding these deployment models and protocols is crucial for businesses considering the switch to IP telephony. Depending on your business needs, you might also be interested in exploring a hosted phone system for small business, which can offer additional advantages.

The next section of this guide will delve into the challenges and solutions in IP Telephony, helping you anticipate and navigate potential obstacles in your IP telephony journey.

Challenges and Solutions in IP Telephony

Like any technology, IP telephony comes with its own set of challenges. But don’t worry, our expert Lawrence Guyot at ETTE is here to guide you through these obstacles and provide you with solutions.

Addressing 911 Calls and Server Latency Issues

One concern with IP telephony is the issue of emergency 911 calls. The Federal Communications Commission requires that VoIP services offer 911 as a standard feature. However, it is up to callers to register their physical address with their provider. If this step is neglected, VoIP 911 calls may not provide the callers’ proper location and phone number information. Therefore, it’s crucial to ensure that your physical address is correctly registered with your VoIP provider.

Another challenge is server latency. IP telephony services require a high-speed internet connection. If there are disruptions in the internet connection strength, it can lead to server latency, causing delays in communication. To combat this, we recommend investing in a reliable, high-speed internet connection and having a contingency plan for potential disruptions, such as a backup internet connection.

Power Requirements During Outages

IP telephony systems connected to office power supplies will not work during power outages, unlike traditional landline telephones that can still function in such circumstances. This can be a significant concern for businesses that need to maintain continuous communication.

To mitigate this, consider having an uninterruptible power supply (UPS) for your IP telephony system. A UPS can provide power to your system during an outage, ensuring that your communication remains uninterrupted.

In conclusion, while there are challenges associated with IP telephony, they can be effectively managed with proper planning and the right solutions. At ETTE, we’re committed to helping you navigate these challenges and unlock the full potential of IP telephony for your organization.

In the next section, we will wrap up our guide with a look at the future of IP telephony and why we believe it’s worth embracing. However, if you’re also interested in exploring other VoIP solutions for your business, you might find our guide on VoIP business plans helpful.

Conclusion: Embracing the Future with IP Telephony

As we’ve seen throughout this guide, IP telephony is no longer a futuristic concept but a present reality. More than 79% of US businesses already use VoIP phones for at least one location, according to Nextiva. This technology offers numerous benefits, including cost efficiency, mobility, scalability, and unified communications.

It’s Time to Embrace IP Telephony

With traditional ISDN lines set to expire by 2025, there is no better time to transition to IP telephony. As Lawrence Guyot, our expert at ETTE, often mentions, the shift to IP telephony is not just about adopting a new technology, but about embracing a more efficient and flexible way of doing business.

Your Partner in the Transition

At ETTE, we understand that making such a significant change can feel overwhelming. That’s why we’re here to guide you every step of the way. Our team is committed to providing you with tailored solutions that meet your specific needs, ensuring a smooth and seamless transition to IP telephony.

Looking Ahead

The future of telecommunications is digital, and IP telephony is leading the charge. By harnessing the power of the internet, businesses can enjoy seamless communication, enhanced flexibility, and substantial cost savings. It’s an exciting time for businesses ready to step into the digital age.

In conclusion, IP telephony is more than just a trend. It’s a powerful tool that can transform the way you do business, providing you with a competitive edge and helping you stay ahead of the curve. As a leading provider of VoIP services, we at ETTE are dedicated to helping you unlock the full potential of this technology.

For more insights on VoIP solutions tailored for small businesses, don’t miss our guides on the best VoIP for small business and hosted phone system for small business. And if you’re ready to take the plunge and switch to IP telephony, check out our VoIP office phone system options.

We’re excited to help you embrace the future of telecommunications. Let’s get started!

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