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What Is a VoIP Phone System?

This article was updated on December 30, 2023

Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) phone systems use high-speed internet connections to provide telephone services — and more. VoIP technology powers cutting-edge services that are unified across devices. With VoIP, any tablet, desktop, laptop, or cell phone can become a hub for business communications.

Photo of a smiling woman standing at her busy, cluttered desk in what appears to be a home office. She is holding her cell phone, listening and taking notes.

The ABCs of VoIP

VoIP stands for voice over internet protocol. A VoIP business phone leverages an internet connection, allowing the business to make clear and reliable phone calls. Some VoIP phone systems incorporate other functionality like faxing, video calls, and virtual receptionists to let small businesses achieve outsized impact. Vonage created this guide to VoIP phone system basics to help you understand this technology and inform your decision-making.

What Is a VoIP Phone and How Does It Work? 

Do VoIP phones work without the internet? No. VoIP phones send data packets over the internet to the listener on the other side. Without a high-quality internet connection like cable or fiber, the phones can’t make the connection and transmit the call. The standard bandwidth necessary for VoIP is at least 85 Kbps of both upload and download capability per device. The more devices you have connected and receiving/making calls, the more bandwidth you will need.

Also, in case you’re wondering: The caller on the other side does not have to have a VoIP connection for the call to work! VoIP and traditional phones interface seamlessly, even though they transmit calls using different technologies.

What Are VoIP Phones Used For? 

VoIP phones are used for both business and home solutions. Why would someone use a VoIP phone instead of a regular phone? Reasons include call quality, the diversity of devices that can connect to the phone system, cost savings, and expanded functionality beyond a traditional phone.

  • Call quality: Sound quality and call reliability are generally greater on VoIP systems, assuming your internet connection is strong enough to support the technology. If the bandwidth is lagging, then VoIP call quality might be affected.

  • Device diversity: VoIP systems can support desk phones and handsets that you normally think of with a phone system. But cell phones, desktops, laptops, and tablets can also make and receive calls through these setups.

  • Cost savings: VoIP for business starts out with costs around $20 a month per connection. Long-distance and international calls are often much cheaper when placed over the cloud versus a traditional private branch exchange (PBX) system.

  • Expanded functionality: In addition to the ability to make and receive calls, VoIP phones can feature unified communications benefits like voicemail to email, virtual receptionists, video conferencing, click-to-call, and more. For growing businesses, this functionality becomes valuable as the business grows and needs to operate more efficiently. These and other features are available through Vonage’s unified communications solution.

Can a Regular Phone Be Used as a VoIP Phone? 

Many people wonder, is VoIP a landline or a cell phone? VoIP is not a landline in a traditional sense, because these phones are connected to the internet, not a phone line. However, you can get a VoIP phone that looks and functions exactly the same as a traditional landline phone.

VoIP can also be used through your cell phone. Traditional cell phones function using data connections, but cell service is not the same as high-speed internet service. With VoIP through a cell phone, an app is installed that the user opens to make and receive calls using the phone’s 4G/5G connection or another internet connection like Wi-Fi. An added benefit is that a business number can be attached to the application, while the personal number on the cell phone isn’t affected. This allows business owners, salespeople, or other employees to maintain a distinction between work and personal life using just one device.

What Is the Best VoIP Phone for Small Business? 

The best VoIP phone for a small business is one that has the functionality you need today, and can grow with your business tomorrow. VoIP’s cloud connectivity allows owners and employees access to expanded functionality that drives efficiency and productivity. Vonage is proud to offer a full VoIP phone service to support any business, whether it’s a small team or a large enterprise.

Learn more about the business communications features that make us one of the world’s most flexible VoIP phone providers, or explore our VoIP business plans and pricing to explore how these systems could save you money and improve operations.

Woman working intently on her Vonage Business Phone system photo above cellphone, laptop and desk phone which are how you use VBC
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