We are living in an age where cloud-based technology is emerging as the most preferred means of communication. In such a landscape it is easy to move away from traditional PBX (Private Branch Exchange) or desk phones.
If you are considering replacing your desk phone, Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) is one of the best alternatives. All you need is to be connected to the internet, to make and receive calls using a business VoIP system.
VoIP is the fastest-growing business communication solution around and for good reason. It replaces the traditional landline telephone with an advanced and feature-rich phone that establishes calls over the internet.
It enables users to talk to anyone using a mobile phone, laptop, or desk phone. A classic example is softphones that enable conferencing over smartphones and conference phones.
VOIP vs PBX? Making the Switch to a Web Phone
VoIP vs PBX. What is better for your business? Should you really be replacing your desk phones? Let’s begin with the basics.
Much before the modern chat and collaboration apps came on the scene, all business communication used to happen through a phone system in offices, in a telco room.
These rooms were called a PBX which were little telephone companies in an office. These used a complex structure of copper wires to transmit signals from the caller to the receiver.
PBX was the pioneer in business-grade, analogue phone systems. This traditional telephony system enabled people to have a personal extension to answer phone calls at their desks, check voicemails, put a call on hold, transfer calls, and more.
With time the humble PBX evolved into IP-PBX by incorporating VoIP technology. The IP-PBX could now deliver a broader range of services and more satellite locations (home users, branch offices), by leveraging data and bandwidth of the internet to connect users and offices together.
VoIP works by transmitting voice data over the internet and also your office network. A step-by-step breakdown of how a VoIP system works:
- It transforms all analogue phone calls into digital signals.
- These digital signals are then converted into IP (Internet Protocol) packets.
- It then converts these IP packets back into phone signals, which are then received by the phone of the receiver.
VoIP is basically a set of rules and protocols that connects a device (phones) with an IP-PBX, over the LAN (Local Area Network) or the Internet. It uses two different kinds of data packets:
- SIP (Session Initiation Protocol): The point where the call is initiated.
- RTP (Real-time Transport Protocol): These are small data packets containing the audio files that phones use to make a sound.
Over time “VoIP phone systems” evolved and added more functionality such as chats, messaging, voice calls, and video conferencing features in an attempt to provide more comprehensive business communication solutions. It also eliminated the need of purchasing and maintaining an in-house PBX system.
Today, VoIP technology-backed web phones have become the backbone of business phone systems that enables businesses with some of the most advanced features in calling, making it an apt alternative to the traditional PBX.
Webphone vs Desk phone
Call delivery: The main difference between a desk phone (traditional PBX) and a web phone (VoIP enabled) is in the way they connect people on calls.
Web phones deliver calls via the internet, whereas desk phones (traditional PBX) deliver calls via physically connected circuits and phone lines.
Features: Traditional desk phones and web phones really have no comparison when it comes to features.
VoIP-enabled web phones are equipped with the latest technology and multiple options for communicating, for both internal and external business communication needs. Desk phones have a pretty limited feature set
Flexibility and integration: Web phones can easily be integrated with other important systems a business is using whereas a desk phone can’t exactly do the same.
Besides, web phones do not require in-house IT support and maintenance, it also gives employees the flexibility to work and make/receive calls from anywhere which is not the case with desk phones.
Why Replace Desk Phones with Web Phones?
1. Integration with other business apps
In today’s digitized environment different business systems cannot work in isolation. VoIP-enabled web phones enable you to integrate your phone system with software that your business is already using.
This is not possible in the case of desk phones. When switching to a web phone, take a demo to see how these integrations work. You may already be using a CRM, calendaring tool, or other software which you may want to integrate with your phone system.
- Most web phones have salesforce integration features that enable agents to take calls from the sales dashboard itself.
- To efficiently handle heavy call volumes, and conference calls (internal and external), integrating your phone system with Google or Outlook calendar can make scheduling meetings a breeze. These smartphone solutions have the ability to automatically update an agent’s status by syncing with their work calendar. This way other teammates know when a particular team member is available and when busy.
2. Remote Workforce
Do you as an organization follow a hybrid or remote work culture? Does a sizable percentage of your staff work remotely?
It is high time you make a switch to web phones. The webphone or VoIP technology has been designed to make calls from anywhere making it an ideal fit for your remote team. It enables remote workers to use an office phone number from their laptops or personal smartphones, as long as they have strong and stable bandwidth and internet connection.
For a company with a limited budget for technology, no expansion plans, and no hybrid/remote work strategy sticking to desk phones may still work. However, with the hassle of maintaining the PBX system, an in-house IT support team will still be there.
What’s more, the lack of ability of traditional systems to integrate with your other technology stack can lead to a significant loss of business.
For a company with plans to grow the team in the near future, using a web phone will make more sense. Web phones provide you with the flexibility to easily scale up or down in terms of phone lines and users as and when you expand your team or downsize it.
Contact centres and call centres especially stand to benefit from VoIP technology. These advanced feature-rich phones can give a serious boost in handling high call volumes, and identifying and analyzing patterns in customer calls.
‘Web Phones’ to Consider to Replace ‘Desk Phones
Now that it is clear that web phones are clearly a win-win to address modern business communication needs, choosing the one that best fits your requirements is the next step.
The market is flooded with various options when it comes to web phones. We have put together our top picks for you to consider.
Tragofone is essentially a VoIP softphone app that can be installed on a mobile phone, laptop/desktop, basically any device your employee is comfortable with.
This particular webphone tops our list because of a host of features it offers to make it an ideal match for any business that works in the hybrid or remote mode.
- It is a versatile dialler app that enables employees to use the business VoIP number on their personal devices.
- Backed by WebRTC technology it is fairly easy to use. Employees can open it in a web browser they are familiar with to make and receive calls.
- Tragofone is both iOS and Android-friendly.
- The advanced feature set comprises call routing, call monitoring, call logging, chat/messaging, fax management, employee directory, and more.
- Other features such as auto-provisioning and white-labelling are an added bonus.
FireRTC is a free-calling webphone that runs within a browser using WebRTC technology. The technology eliminates the need to install or buy any add-ons. FireRTC offers free calling to the PSTN in the U.S., Canada, and Puerto Rico.
It also provides users with background information about the person or business they are speaking with. With features like ‘call recording,’ this is one of the best web phones available. The FireRTC app is available in the Chrome Webstore.
3. OnSIP Desktop App
The OnSIP Desktop App does not require any downloads or plug-ins and seamlessly runs on Windows and Mac operating systems on both Chrome and Firefox web browsers.
It enables users to make voice or video calls at the click of a button. The desktop app is equipped to make calls to:
- Extension dial
- SIP-to-SIP calls
- Video calls with compatible devices
The OnSIP desktop app has been designed keeping in mind the requirements of a call/contact centre and is an ideal replacement for desk phones.
It enables both the sales and customer support teams to utilize calling and monitoring features. It enables remote workers/mobile staff to log into the app and connect with the company’s phone system. The video call feature enables employees to better assist customers using visual cues.
The Zoiper web phone’s ability to integrate your website and web app make it a strong contender as one of the best in the category.
Zoiper web is compatible with all popular browsers like Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari, Chrome, and Opera on the Windows operating system. Zoiper has the unique ability to discover the browser and install the appropriate plugin.
The webphone enables a user to do unlimited concurrent calls to an unlimited number of users. It boasts of features such as call hold and call transfer.
Getting a license for Zoiper may be a good idea if embedding a fully functional phone on your website or web app is your business requirement. This makes it easy for customers to reach you directly from your website or app.
5. FluentCloud Webphone
The FluentCloud webphone is a Google Chrome add-on that is compatible with Chromebook computers, laptops, and desktops. It enables users to make and receive calls, messages, chat, check voicemails, read online fax, and more all using a single interface.
FluentCloud webphone has a paid subscription plan which gives the users access to a cloud-based all-inclusive business phone system.
Twilio web phone enables a user to use a web browser to make phone calls.
However, like the other web phones listed here, Twilio’s browser phone is not an enterprise-grade solution and requires a user to install an add-on manually in a terminal window. The phone has the capability to call PSTNs, extensions, and SIP endpoints.
Web phones clearly equip businesses with more features when compared to old-school desk phones.
Their ability to work seamlessly across multiple devices and the capability to let employees work from anywhere is something surely to consider in today’s fast-changing remote work culture. The sky’s the limit with these new-age web phones.
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I am Adeyemi Adetilewa, a media consultant, entrepreneur, husband, and father. Founder and Editor-In-Chief of Ideas Plus Business Magazine, online business resources for entrepreneurs. I help brands share unique and impactful stories through the use of public relations, advertising, and online marketing. My work has been featured on the Huffington Post, Thrive Global, Addicted2Success, Hackernoon, The Good Men Project, and other publications.