JOIN THE REVOLUTION. CHOOSE VOIP.
WHAT ARE IP PHONES?
IP phones use Ethernet cables, rather than traditional telephony cables, to connect to the phone system. When you speak into an IP phone, your voice is converted into a stream of data, which is then directed through the computer network to its destination, where it’s converted back into audio. It’s like going from film to digital with cameras. The basic VoIP set-up includes a phone that you use and an IP-PBX that controls the system. This page is all about the phone that you use.
Using an IP phone is every bit as simple as using any telephone. You dial numbers with keys. You talk into the handset. You can twiddle the cord if that’s what you like to do. It’s mostly the same user experience. But your new phone also performs many more functions than your old one.
Because IP phones use Internet Protocol, they’re now part of your computer network. Because they’re endpoints in your network, managing them or scaling your system is now simpler and less expensive. Because they’re using software to determine their functionality, they’re now capable of so much more.
Being part of a computer network opens up a world of new possibilities for phones.
Telephony companies have seen the future and the future is VoIP. As more and more businesses are choosing VoIP over analog telephones, companies are researching, developing and releasing ever better options to fit the needs and improve the experiences of customers.
WHAT ABOUT MY ANALOG PHONES?
You might be worried that choosing VoIP means tossing all your existing phones into the garbage binóthat itís a step or four too far for your budget.
Not to fear. VoIP manufacturers provide gateways and adapters that convert analog signals to IP data. Your old phones are now part of the new VoIP system and gain many of the benefits of VoIP in the process!
WHAT’S IN A NAME?
IP phones are known by a number of different names. Though the names all refer to basically the same thing, each reveals something important about the phones:
IP PHONES (AKA VOIP PHONES)IP stands for Internet Protocol, which organizes how data are sent over the Internet. IP phones use IP to communicate.
VOIP PHONES (AKA IP PHONES)VoIP stands for Voice over Internet Protocol. All this technology serves to carry your voice to its recipient: it’s a technology built for people.
SIP PHONESSIP stands for Session Initiation Protocol, which is an open source protocol that organizes how endpoints start and end communicating. SIP phones use SIP to order calls.
INTERNET PHONESInternet phones don’t need to use the old telephone infrastructure. They use the vast infrastructure of the internet.
SOFTPHONESSoftphones don’t rely on analog hardware for their primary functioning. Softphones use computer software.
WHAT IP PHONE FEATURES SHOULD I LOOK FOR?
The primary advantage of VoIP over analog is an improved selection of modern features. There are too many features to cover every one right now, but here are a few that customers tell us they appreciate.
Be aware, however, that not every feature covered below is available on every IP phone. If a particular feature stands out to you, use it to help narrow down your choices.
POWER OVER ETHERNET (POE)
IP phones can be powered by the same Ethernet cable that connects it to the computer network. Under IEEE 802.3 standards, copper Ethernet cables can safely conduct electricity without disturbing data transmission.
What does PoE mean for you? You have fewer cables to install and less clutter. You never worry about where the nearest plug is! On top of that, you can integrate PoE with an uninterruptible power supply (UPS) to provide power in the event of a black-out.
Look for PoE compliant phones!
WHERE DID ALL THE POWER ADAPTERS GO?
Customers often ask us why their IP phones didn’t come with power adapters. You know the AC cable with the big plug at the end? That’s often missing.
Power over Ethernet is the answer. Paying for a power supply is just wasting money when your IP phone is powered through the Ethernet cable. It may feel like something vital is missing at first, but don’t worry: PoE works perfectly.
IP phones reduce cabling infrastructure while maintaining security by letting you choose the number of switch ports. A switch port is a jack into which you can plug a cable and thus connect to a switch, which is a device that connects devices on a computer network.
Let’s say you have a phone and computer on a desk. Wouldn’t it be annoying to have to run a separate cables for each to connect them to the network? This is exactly what traditional telephony forces you to do. IP phones solve this problem by having two switch ports.
But let’s say you want to use an IP phone as a lobby phone. It’s not connected to a computer, so the second switch port is just open. This is a security risk. If your phone isn’t connected to a managed switch, anyone can come into the lobby and connect to your network by plugging into that open port.
IP phones with only one switch port solve this security problem. There’s no open port, because there’s only one port and it has an Ethernet cable in it. Managed switches also solve this problem, by only allowing specific devices to access your network.
Check how many switch ports your IP phone has before buying one. You don’t want to put your company at risk!
IP phones are controlled by software. Software can also enhance audio quality as you speak. What do we mean by enhance? Here are some examples:
WIDEBAND AUDIOextends frequency range for clearer audio
NOISE CANCELLATIONsmooths out sudden changes in volume.
SHOCK PROTECTIONreduces background noise
ECHO MANAGEMENTgets rid of distracting echoes.
Analog phones are like scratched LPs compared with the crystal-clear CDs of IP phones.
What happens when you call a customer and your voice is true to life? They not only understand what you’re saying better, but they also think of you more as a person, as someone they can trust. And it doesn’t hurt that sounding good grants you prestige, too!
If sound quality is a priority, look for what audio enhancements an IP phone offers.
Not to worry. IP Phone Warehouse stocks a full range of expansion modules so you get more buttons, more appearances.
A line appearance represents a call line or extension. With an analog phone, you need a separate line for each line appearance. With VoIP, you only need one Ethernet cable for however many line appearances you have. It expands your potential while reducing infrastructure costs.
Line appearances allow you to monitor extensions easily, so you can tell which extensions are open and which are in use. IP phones support differing numbers of line appearances. Phones designed for executives, receptionists, call center workers and other power users will need more line appearances than people who only pick up the phone once or twice per day.
Having lots of lines is lovely, but functionality is important, too. That’s why VoIP manufacturers have integrated programmable buttons into IP phones.
Power users love programmable buttons. The user dictates what each button does, meaning you can program shortcuts for common actions.
If the number of line appearances is important for you, we have a dedicated page to IP phones by number of lines.
EXTENSIONS AND PHONE NUMBERS
With VoIP, an extension doesn’t follow a phone, it follows a user.
Because numbers follow people, managing the phone system is stressless. Patching a physical line when someone moves never happens: the number follows the person. Adding a new number is simple, because you add it in the software backend. MACs (migrations, additions and changes) take minutes.
How does it do this? Hard-coded in every IP phone is a MAC address. The IP-PBX automatically detects the MAC address of every device. So if you want to move to a different place, all you need to do to keep the same extension is plug in the same phone. The IP phone system does the rest.
Because numbers are controlled by software in the IP phone system, where someone receives the call is also flexible. You can set up call routing so that, for example, when an architect is on site, he’ll receive all his calls on his smartphone.
IP phones functionality is determined by software, rather than by cables, so they’re capable of much more with less effort on your end.
Simply put, UC is a catch-all name for the combination of telephony, video conferencing, messaging and other communications technologies. Because these technologies now all use computer networks, the opportunity to make them work together has opened up.
IP phones can be integrated with UC platforms like Skype for Business or Cisco WebEx, expanding what you can do.
Picture video conferencing with a chat bar at the side for quick polling and a separate display for content. Imagine knowing that you won’t be able to reach someone by phone before you dial because their presence is displaying red, so you message them instead.
These are examples of UC. Technologies working together: unified communications.
DISPLAYS AND TOUCHSCREENS
IP phones often have visual displays. As you look through our unbeatable selection of IP phones, you’ll notice a couple patterns.
Most of these displays are customizable and many are also touchscreens. Visual displays not only present more important information than is possible without one, but they also allow users to customize their phone, making it a more integral component of their worklife.
Looks are important. If people like the look of something, they’re much more likely to adopt and use it.
Touchscreens go one step further, giving you a simple, natural method of operating your phones. It’s essentially like having a tablet and phone in one machine. Some touchscreen IP phones even run Android, which means your work phone accesses the vast world of Google Play productivity apps.
Don’t overlook the display when choosing an IP phone..
Is the plain old desk phone not cutting it anymore? IP phones come with a range of options to let you get up and move while always staying connected.
Headsets give you hands-free connectivity. For call centers, where staff need to use computers while helping customers, headsets are a must. But we’ve also found that many people simply like a light headset as an easy way to make calls comfortably.
Headsets can be wired or wireless, with a range of options in both categories. Wireless headsets often incoporate Bluetooth, which is a very popular standard for short-range wireless connectivity
WIRELESS IP PHONES
Many people either prefer holding a handset or dislike having a headset on. For them, manufacturers have designed wireless IP phones.
The most common standard for wireless phones is DECT (digital enhanced cordless technology), which controls communication between handset and base. DECT is its own standard; it doesn’t use WiFi. Not using WiFi makes a DECT phone more secure and reliable, but it also limits its range.
There are IP phones that offer wireless communication over WiFi, which means you have VoIP connectivity wherever you’re covered by the wireless network.
A final feature to note is one that will, we predict, become increasingly important in coming years: analytics. Companies are becoming more and more proficient in recording and analyzing data, and for good reason.
Curious about when customers call most often, how long the average call takes, where people call from, or any other detail that might allow you to optimize your business strategy? With VoIP, it’s easy to record and analyze such useful information. You gain access to business data of a quality that was unimaginable before VoIP. Your business strategy is now founded on rich, accurate data.
not every IP phone comes with these features. If one of these features sounds particularly useful, look for it. It’ll help you narrow down your options.
And always remember that you can call IP Phone Warehouse for expert pre-sales support!
Conference phones capture the voices of people in the round.
What do we mean by that? Picture a conference room. A dozen people are sitting around the table. They’re speaking with a branch office on the other coast.
If each person had their own phone, it would not only be an inefficient use of the budget, but it would also be chaos. Each phone would pick up voices, leading to a mess of muffled voices. It would be a terrible experience.
A single conference phone in the center is the solution.
Conference phones use multi-directional microphones arrays to provide complete coverage. They combine the multiple audio streams into a single stream to get rid of the muffling or echoing effect of the same voices being picked up by different microphones.
Conference phone microphones also have extended pick-up ranges, because people are not going to be right next to the microphones.
When looking for a conference phone, note its coverage radius and pick-up range to make sure what you buy fits your needs. Many conferences phones allow you to connect additional microphones for extend optimal coverage in larger spaces.
With conference phones, audio enhancements are very important. On a conference call, you’re trying to keep track of many voices, so the audio has to be very clear and distracting noises have to be kept to a minimum. We have included a detailed discussion of common audio enhancements under IP phone features above.
IP conference phones extend the same benefits over analog conference phones that IP phones in general do. They are increasingly being integrated with unified communications (UC) systems. Collaboration technologies such as content sharing and video conferencing are now a part of everyday business, and the conference phone is an excellent collaboration tool.
ANALOG CONFERENCE PHONES
Many offices already have an analog conference phone. Analog conference phones, as with any analog phone, can be integrated into your network using an analog telephone adapter (ATA) or gateway.
You keep your existing technology while also integrating it with your IP phone system.
Currently, the only wireless conference phones available are analog, so businesses who wish to use a wireless conference phone with their VoIP deployment will need to look into using an ATA with it.
WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A CONFERENCE PHONE AND A SPEAKER PHONE?
This is a question we get quite often, so we wanted to be clear: a speaker phone is not the same thing as a conference phone.
The primary difference between the two is that conference phones are designed to be multi-directional, while speaker phones are uni-directional.
Speaker phones are uni-directional. The microphone only faces one person. Although dedicated speaker phones are available, because they are only designed for one person, they are often integrated into desktop phones.
Imagine trying to use a uni-directional microphone to capture people in the round. It will result in very poor sound quality.
- Conference phones for many people
- Speaker phones for one person
Video phones provide two solutions in one unit. You get an IP deskphone for all your calls, but you also get a screen for video conferencing.
Simplicity is the primary advantage of a video phone. Instead of having a separate system for each solution, you can set up one-touch phone or video calls from a video phone.
Not every business that could use video conferencing needs a dedicated system. For those businesses, a video phone is a cost-effective solution. The value of video conferencing is only increasing as more and more businesses use it.
When looking for a video phones, keep in mind that some models can call other video phones directly using IP, while some need to be integrated with unified communications platforms like Microsoft Skype for Business. Also, some models come with a camera, while others require an additional camera.
WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN ON-PREMISE AND HOSTED VOIP?
With VoIP, two words pop up again and again: premise and hosted. But it’s not always clear what the difference is, so here’s a quick explanation.
PREMISE | You own and operate the IP phone system.
HOSTED | Someone else owns and operates the IP phone system, and you subscribe to their services.
Let’s explain further.
An on-premise deployment means the IP phone system that controls the IP phones is owned and operated by the company that uses it.
By IP phone system, we mean here the IP-PBX, the machine that directs the traffic of all the VoIP devices on the computer network while providing features like voicemail and caller ID.
Why would you choose an on-premise IP phone system?
Control is the primary reason. The hardware is all yours, so you can optimize it for your specific needs. When something goes wrong, you can fix it right away.
Because you own all the equipment, your expenses might also be less over time, since you’re hopefully done paying for equipment after your initial investment.
Hosted VoIP providers own and operate the IP phone system, and you subscribe to their services. Your VoIP traffic is sent, securely, over the internet to the host.
Hosted VoIP might also be called cloud VoIP, because it uses the same principle as cloud computing: a specialist company provides access to technology and data over a computer network.
Why would you choose a hosted IP phone system?
There are two reasons companies choose hosted VoIP:
access to high-end technology
lower up-front costs
The hosts are VoIP specialists, which means they keep their infrastructure up-to-date. Owning the latest and greatest technology is out of reach for most businesses, but with hosted VoIP you gain access to cutting-edge technology and consequent features affordably.
For some, the fact that you’re not responsible for maintaining your IP phone system is also a benefit. Some, however, miss the fine-grained control that is only available with an on-premise IP-PBX.
Because you’re not paying for as much equipment with a hosted IP phone system, hosted VoIP is less expensive initially. Those initial savings, though, must be balanced with the extended costs of paying for a subscription.
No one-size-fits-all answer exists for which is better or which costs less, premise or hosted, because every business is unique.
WHO USES IP PHONES?
Business owners appreciate the lower fixed costs for hardware and lower variable costs for infrastructure and maintenance over the long run.
Administrators thank IP phones for reducing clutter and easing phone management.
Hotel managers integrate their analog phone deployments with IP adapters and gateways.
Healthcare practitioners make use of the hands-free versatility and customizable alarms.
Tech support use wireless headsets to let them talk with customers while finding searching for answers.
Receptionists monitor line appearances and direct phone calls effortlessly.
Call center workers use unified communications features to streamline their workflow and simplify communication.
Manufacturers integrate their phone systems with content and data sharing platforms to increase productivity.
Office managers increase collaboration in their departments while simplifying their deployments.
SMB owners love that they don”t have to sacrifice quality or features while taking advantage of lower price points.
These are only a few examples that we’ve seen over the years. If you don’t see yourself represented on this list, call IP Phone Warehouse, and we’ll work with you to help you decide if VoIP is right for you.
WHO MAKES IP PHONES?
IP Phone Warehouse is your source for the best VoIP technology on the market.
The AudioCodes 400HD series offers high-powered IP phones for productive users. If an affordable, easy-to-use phone with robust design and full feature set sounds good to you, check out AudioCodes IP phones. IP Phone Warehouse is an authorized online reseller of AudioCodes IP phones.
Avaya produces an unbeatable selection of IP phones for every use-case. Each phone integrates beautifully into a seamless system. Avaya is the whole thing, for when you want the perfect front-to-back solution. IP Phone Warehouse is an authorized online reseller of Avaya IP phones.
Cisco is the world’s leading provider of networking technology, and they bring that expertise to their IP phones. Cisco IP phones are among the most widely used in the world. They’re easy to deploy and use, making them ideal for enterprise-scale installations. IP Phone Warehouse is a Cisco Premier Partner.
Digium optimizes their phones for Asterisk and Switchvox deployments. Digium is the primary developer of both Asterisk, an open source IP-PBX application, and Switchvox, a commercial unified communications platform, both of which are employed across the world. Digium IP phones are easy to set up and feature-rich. IP Phone Warehouse is an authorized online reseller of Digium IP phones.
Security is Fortinet’s calling card. Fortinet offers an all-in-one solution. Their system uses SIP, making it easy to set up, manage and, most importantly, use. IP Phone Warehouse is an authorized online reseller of Fortinet IP phones.
Grandstream combines top-of-the-line features with a complete portfolio of VoIP equipment. Small businesses love Grandstream for their cost-effective, scalable IP solutions that are simple to deploy. No licensing is required to unlock features. IP Phone Warehouse is an online wholesaler of Grandstream IP phones.
INCOM produces wireless handsets that use SIP over WiFi to connect to a large array of VoIP systems and access points. IP Phone Warehouse is an authorized online reseller of INCOM IP phones.
Jabra brings the well-loved and widely used technology of its headsets to wireless IP phone handsets. The Jabra Handset 450 is designed for use with unified communications platforms such as Microsoft Skype for Business. IP Phone Warehouse is an authorized online reseller of Jabra IP phones.
Mitel offers an unbeatable variety of IP phones that are designed with impeccable style. The Mitel IP Communications Platforms open up your IP phones to a world of unified communications. IP Phone Warehouse is an authorized online reseller of Mitel IP phones. Mitel acquired Aastra in 2013.
Panasonic brings their legendary innovation to IP phones, focusing on interoperability and business-friendly value. IP Phone Warehouse is an authorized online reseller of Panasonic IP phones.
Polycom is a leading innovator in the realm of enterprise collaboration, well known for their conference and speaker phones. Polycom phones give you excellent sound quality, with advanced features like HD Voice and the Acoustic Fence noise-cancelling technology. Polycom’s focus on customer choice means you get an IP phone that fits your needs. With a consistent user experience across many platforms backed by an open standard philosophy, Polycom IP phones are widely used across the world. IP Phone Warehouse is an authorized online reseller of Polycom IP phones.
RCA’s history of technological innovation has led them to develop a complete range of high-powered yet affordable IP phones. IP Phone Warehouse is an authorized online reseller of RCA IP phones.
Snom offers a comprehensive portfolio of VoIP solutions, from entry level desktop phones to high-end conference phones. Coming with 2-year warranties, Snom phones are expertly designed and built in Germany. Snom builds IP phones for the Microsoft Lync and Skype for Business platforms. IP Phone Warehouse is an authorized online reseller of Snom IP phones.
Spectralink designs unique wireless phones that work with WiFi or DECT. Spectralink focuses on real world applications, providing solutions you can’t find elsewhere, like ruggedized handsets, washable handsets, or phones with barcode scanners. IP Phone Warehouse is an authorized online reseller of Spectralink IP phones.
Ubiquiti produces modern, stylish IP phones with intuitive HD touchscreens that run Android. Simple to deploy and comfortable to use, Ubiquiti IP phones are an excellent corporate communications solution. IP Phone Warehouse is an authorized online reseller of Ubiquiti IP phones.
VTech offers affordable wired and DECT wireless IP phones. Their phones are SIP-based, making them interoperable with SIP-based IP phone systems. IP Phone Warehouse is an authorized online reseller of VTech IP Phones.
XBLUE builds phones for small businesses looking for simple solutions to everday problems. Easy to use, XBLUE IP phones still contain the features you want. IP Phone Warehouse is an authorized online reseller of XBLUE IP phones.
Yealink invests heavily in researching and developing full-featured SIP phones for every use-case. Yealink phones are thus packed with top-of-the-line technology. Yet Yealink also offers their phones at affordable prices. They are certified for use with 3CX. SMBs are particularly fond of Yealink IP phones. IP Phone Warehouse is an authorized online reseller of Yealink IP phones.