VoIP, when accessed through a fixed line connection, has helped to revolutionise the way that enterprise users and consumers communicate, leading to reduced costs, improved scalability and many more benefits besides.
With the significant growth in smartphone ownership, mobile VoIP is starting to have the same impact on portable communications, bringing with it all the advantages that such services already offer and bundling in a number of additional improvements to make adoption all the more appealing.
With this brief guide to mobile VoIP you can find out more about the technology underpinning modern solutions and gain an appreciation for why fewer calls are being made through traditional channels today.
Mobile VoIP Integration
At the moment the majority of mobile VoIP calls are made via over-the-top (OTT) applications, which have to be downloaded and installed on the handset in question, then used when making or receiving a call.
Core VoIP integration is becoming more achievable thanks to the growing availability of 4G connectivity, through which communications are innately IP-based, but until this is more widespread the OTT approach will remain a necessity. There are a wide variety of VoIP apps available, ranging from consumer-friendly solutions like Skype to those that are targeted more at meeting the needs of enterprise users.
Because VoIP services can be hosted remotely by a provider, it is easy to import contacts that have been added to the service via another device. VoIP is even integrated with other types of communication app, such as instant messaging platforms like BBM, in order to improve the competitiveness of these solutions in a market that is leaning towards the unification of previously disparate facets.
Of course there are some issues with mobile VoIP when tied down to a particular app, as cross-platform compatibility may not be an option. So while it should be possible to make calls to a PSTN number of a standard mobile, getting in touch with someone who is using a rival VoIP service may be problematic. This is not universally the case, but is worth bearing in mind for business users who are thinking about adopting mobile VoIP.
For mobile VoIP services to function, smartphone users must have access to a data connection. This can either be in the form of a Wi-Fi hotspot or a 3G/4G network service. It is arguably best to use Wi-Fi where available because this serves the dual purposes of allowing you to reduce the pressure which is being put on your mobile data tariff and also to improve the consistency and speed of the connection to limit the chances of calls being dropped.
3G connectivity does support VoIP calling, although inconsistent speeds can diminish the usefulness of such services in this context. 4G does a better job, but until it is more widely available the majority of the mobile VoIP burden will be shouldered by Wi-Fi networks. Since Wi-Fi is available to smartphone users whether they are in the office, at home or out in the field, it is not a limiting factor.
Ease of Adoption
One of the things which makes it easier for a business to start using mobile VoIP is that BYOD (bring your own device) culture is increasingly common. Staff do not need to be encouraged to use personal devices for work purposes, as you will often find that they are already doing this of their own volition. There may be legitimate concerns over security, but with proper training employees can use their own smartphones to make mobile VoIP calls and carry out other work-oriented activities.
BYOD means that businesses do not need to make significant investments in hardware procurement, because they can tap into the existing technology. This helps to keep the adoption process as affordable as possible.
Call Cost Management
As with fixed line VoIP services, a mobile VoIP call will generally be free to make for as long as is necessary, with no per-minute charge to bear as long as both parties are using VoIP. When colleagues need to communicate with one another on a regular basis, it can lead to significantly lower call costs for the business as a whole. This is amplified further if staff members are not usually in the same place at the same time and ‘internal’ communications have to occur across long distances. While traditional landline or mobile calls might be expensive, mobile VoIP keeps the price low.
Calls to international destinations and even other mobile numbers can be reduced when using VoIP, because providers offer backwards compatibility with legacy networks and can pass on calls to any end point or extension, all with less to pay in the long run.
One of the most important benefits of mobile VoIP is the underlying portability of this set-up. Employees will not need to be in the vicinity of their desk, department or office to remain contactable, but can roam far and wide and rely on Wi-Fi, 3G and 4G to communicate with colleague, clients and business partners.
The same degree of mobility is obviously an essential element of mobile phone technology and has been for a long time, so in a sense VoIP is not bringing anything new to the table. But the promise of lower costs in an area which has always been more expensive than landline calling should be enough to convince cash-strapped companies that it is worth migrating.
The scalability of mobile VoIP is also an advantage, because it is not reliant on any form of in-house infrastructure. Instead the provider takes care of all the complicated hardware and businesses of any size can get involved. Whether you are managing a large team of employees dispersed over a wide geographic area, or a lone operator working from home or out of your car, mobile VoIP services are entirely affordable and accessible. It just takes a little bit of motivation to start using them.
One additional reason to start using mobile VoIP is that it can eliminate much of the hassle and stress associated with managing a normal mobile phone service. There is no need to worry about tariff limitations, monthly minute allocations, roaming charges or other artificial limits. Instead you can call as often as you want and for as long as you want throughout the day and night, which is sure to be beneficial to business users from a variety of backgrounds and industries.
With extra features such as conference calling and video capabilities, the list of reasons to adopt mobile VoIP continues to unravel and as it will almost certainly be ubiquitous in the future, getting on board early is worthwhile.
This guest article was provided by
Jamie Garner, who works for the UK telecoms company