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Difference Between VOIP and Unified Communications

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Difference Between VOIP and Unified Communications

Most of the times, individuals are confused with the terms unified communications and VOIP, and these terms are used interchangeably to describe the communications systems used by businesses.

In fact, unified communications and VOIP refer to two complete different communications technology.

So exactly what is the difference between unified communications and VOIP? First, let us dive straight into the definition of these two terms.

What is VOIP?
VOIP, or Voice over Internet Protocol, is a method for taking analog audio signals, like the kind you hear when you talk on the phone, and turning them into digital data that can be transmitted over the Internet.

VOIP enable individuals to make and receive telephone calls from a private telephone carrier to the Internet. This means phone connections inside an office building run over the same network used by computers rather than the separate telephony network.

Analog audio can be converted into digital data using:

1. Analog telephone adaptor (ATA)
ATA is an analog-to-digital converter. It takes the analog signal from your traditional phone and converts it into digital data for transmission over the Internet.

2. IP Phones or IP Telephony
These specialized phones look just like normal phones with a handset, cradle and buttons. But instead of having the standard phone connectors, IP phones have an Ethernet connector. An IP phone connect directly to your router to make an IP call.

3. Computer-to-computer
This is certainly the easiest way to use VOIP. All we need is the software, a microphone, speaker, and fast Internet connection.

What is Unified Communications?
Unified Communications or in short, UC, refers to a group of real-time communication and collaboration services catered to businesses across multiple devices and platforms.

Common UC features include:

  • Internet telephony (VoIP)
  • Instant messaging
  • Video conferencing
  • Screen sharing
  • Call control
  • Speech recognition
  • Email
  • Voicemail
  • SMS
 

VOIP Being Part of Unified Communications Solutions
VOIP usually plays a part in the entire unified communications solutions offering.

One of the best examples of UC in use is the idea of a customer calling to ask a question about one of your products after business hours. Unfortunately, the call did not get through and the customer decides to leave a voicemail message. After hanging up the call, software that powers the phone system translates the message into digital form and emails it to your sales and marketing team. Your sales and marketing manager receives the message, in email form, on their mobile device and is then able to call the customer back.

This scenario illustrates the use of 3 different systems – voicemail, email, and. Unified communications “unified” these systems/programs to work as one unit.

What’s the difference between the two?
The main difference between the two communication concepts is the scope. VOIP focus on Internet-based calling, while UC focuses on enterprise wide communication. Usually, the voice part of a UC system is powered by a VOIP platform.

Which option is best for my business?
This is a question commonly asked by businesses. The answer is that it really depends on your company and your current situation. If you already have a traditional phone system in place in your office, and are looking just to cut your phone bills then a VOIP solution may be the best solution.

One of the biggest downsides of implemented UC system, is that it requires some investment; which is larger than VOIP. If your business is operating on narrow margins, you probably won’t be able to implement a full UC solution all at once, instead having to implement it in steps.

Our best recommendation is that before you consider either, contact our technical specialist to learn more about our solutions and how we can help your business get the right type of communication system that works for your business and budget.

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