In a previous post we discussed what Unified Communications (UC) is, and its developing place in business. Now, we can look at VoIP’s place in the realm of UC – and how it can aid a UC solution.
The nature of hosted VoIP promotes flexibility in business; because the system is hosted in the cloud, phones can connect and operate through any internet connection.
The same flexibility of a hosted VoIP system aids UC in a business: Users can have handsets in their office, at home, or indeed at both – and be reached on the same number across these devices.
VoIP phones are also highly portable, meaning staff can take their phones with them, even if they’re going abroad. This portability also aids business continuity in a disaster situation.
A hosted system also aids UC through FMC (Fixed-Mobile Convergence). Users on our Horizon VoIP platform can twin their mobile phone with their smart phone – meaning both will ring when receiving a call.
SIP Trunking (also known as VoIP lines) aids UC for businesses with in-house phone systems (PBXs), with a variety of applications deployed in businesses of all sizes, and all industries.
Like hosted VoIP, SIP Trunking is very flexible and portable, allowing businesses to keep their existing numbers when they move office – as the lines exist in the cloud rather than on a physical cable. SIP also allows multi-site businesses to connect their offices and home workers under one network, distributing calls across sites – even if they’re in different countries.
The same flexibility allows calls to fail-over to remote sites, or to staff mobiles, should a disaster situation occur.
The in-built UC elements of SIP trunking makes it a robust solution that’s highly customisable to the needs of businesses individually.
Other UC applications form part of the functionality of the PBX (your in-house phone system). Manufacturers, such as our long-term partner Aastra, provide CTI (Computer Telephony Integration) applications that offer database integration alongside click-to-dial software – allowing users to easily communicate with their database, and control their desk phone from their PC.
Business phone systems, such as Aastra, also offer FMC applications that allow staff to use functions of the phone system such as hold, transfer and conference, through their smartphones via an app. Such FMC apps allow staff to be contacted from one number anywhere.
Internet connectivity and infrastructure forms the important base of all VoIP and UC solutions. Without sufficient bandwidth, neither would be able to function.
Work being carried out by Broadband Development UK (BDUK) on the UK’s new high-speed fibre network is aiding the development and availability of VoIP and UC services a great deal. As more areas of the UK are becoming fibre-enabled, more businesses are able to implement hosted VoIP, SIP Trunking and UC.
Because this fibre network is available to both businesses and households, UC applications can be implemented as part of a home-working policy for many businesses.
As well as improvements to the broadband network, the growth of VoIP and UC can also be attributed to reductions in the cost of dedicated internet connections (leased lines and EFM). Businesses with large data requirements can now implement VoIP and UC solutions using their dedicated connection as a gateway. Implementation is aided by the low capex VoIP has compared to more traditional telephony methods.
Improvements to the mobile internet has, and will continue to, aid Unified Communications. Developments to both 3G and 4G networks are making the mobile web more available and accessible to people on the move, allowing FMC applications to be used more widely.
Other UC services in the cloud
The ever-increasing popularity of smartphones and tablets allows other UC applications to be implemented into businesses: Our Voicemail to Email and Fax to Email services are both hosted in the cloud, and allow staff to receive and respond to important information on their mobile devices wherever they are.
Because technologies such as these are hosted in the cloud, businesses can easily implement such applications into their existing device policy, or implement a BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) policy.
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