Making voice calls are a fundamental part of daily life. Whether making calls to suppliers or speaking with customers, the humble phone is still the easiest way to connect to people.
As with everything, progress brings new products to the market but however the call is technically made, in essence, it is still just the ability to make an outbound or inbound call. The only difference is the location in which it is made or received.
Traditional Voice (Calls & Lines>
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After BT was privatised back in 1984, third parties could gain access to its network to resell services to customers. This is still done today, but note, all work carried out on this network is maintained by its field engineering division, Openreach.
There are still thousands of businesses across the UK that use analogue and digital (ISDN) services. These products are still extremely reliable and relevant. In fact the majority of all home broadband services are delivered over a single analogue line, but be aware…
…anyone still using ISDN will need to consider their options soon, as BT will be turning this network off.
As all services (Lines) are provided from BT’s network, there are set costs for resellers. This means there is little room for resellers to distinguish themselves from their competitors.
Voice calls don’t have to be made over the BT network and this is how historically, resellers were able to drive competition in the market place. This however has dramatically changed over the past few years, as the cost of mobile calls has reduced to a position where it can’t go any lower. This has resulted in a change of market strategy and now most deals follow a bundled minute offer, similar to the Mobile market. Either way, the cost of calls are negligible compared to the line rental charges.
IP Telephony (Commonly known as VoIP / SIP / Hosted Phones)
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The idea behind IP Telephony is that it doesn’t use a BT line to deliver the call. It uses a technology (Internet Protocol) to route voice traffic, hence the name VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol). The term SIP is also readily used, but SIP is simply a protocol, a language that is spoken over the line. As with languages, there are many protocols that can do the same thing.
IP Telephony is not a new technology. It has been around for over 20 years.
The reason why IP Telephony has only become the product of choice in last few years is mainly due to two reasons:
- Broadband speeds have improved that the quality of the typical internet service is now good enough to support the product.
- Margins in the Calls & Lines product are very low so resellers require a new product to retain the same amount of profit.
If you intend to deploy IP Telephony in your business, point #1 is very important. If you don’t use a quality internet service you will not have a good experience. The saying… “only as good as the weakest link”… is very relevant.
If you currently use a Calls & Lines service in your business, you will also be paying for a Phone (PBX) System. This phone system provides all the functional which you may be used to. These can be expensive and have to be upgraded every 5 years or so.
A Hosted Phone System uses IP Telephony that includes all the functionality of the PBX, therefore this will reduce the overall cost. Even the basic Hosted Phone system will includes a substantial amount of functionality…
Not only does the Hosted Phone System provide all this functionality in the office, you can take this on the move as well. Simply download an app on to your smart phone.
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The Mobile market is very mature with only has a limited number of providers. You may believe there to be more because even the large supermarkets now sell mobile, but in reality, there is only 02, Vodafone, EE and 3G in operation. All of which fight to have the largest share of the industry.
When there are a limited number of players to choose from, brand awareness is everything and you will observe from TV adverts each claiming to be the best network.
…O2 states it is the people’s choice, promoting priority concert tickets for its customers.
…Vodafone goes with a more corporate feel, highlighting that it services big business and the emergency services.
…EE is the fun network that can provide the fastest speeds.
Whenever a claim is made in the media, it will be correct at the time but be mindful of how it is measured. Each service provider deploys its network differently so the facts presented may not be relevant to the others.
“We have the fastest network” …this is all good and well, but as with broadband, the maximum speed is not necessary the best measurement.
“We have the highest number of radio masts in the UK” …radio signals are transmitted at different frequencies. The lower the frequency, the further the signal can travel therefore you don’t need the same amount of masts.
Dependant on where your business operates, will determine which network is best for you.
It is misconception that network operators are responsible for mobile handsets. Although there is a correlation, network operators sell airtime and hardware manufacturers dispense handsets.
Up until the onset of smart phones, the airtime industry was extremely lucrative. Mobile handsets were relatively inexpensive and call charges to Mobile were high. This has now reversed with average smart phone being in excess of £400 and some even double this.
The smart phone is an incredibly, emotive piece of equipment, as in today’s society how many of us could go a whole day without it. No longer is it a facility to make calls and take pictures, it is device which connects us to the outside world. We use it for news updates, buy goods, we even trust to do our banking through it.
There are millions of people in the world who say they cannot live without their iPhone and crave for the latest edition as soon as it is released. But the smart phone industry has reached a point where it is hard to improve. Apart from the name, there is little to distinguish between each phones functionality.
Manufactures now control what best mobile packages are available.
When making your decision ask yourself, is it brand or price that is more important. Different manufacturers have stronger allegiances with a particular network operator and dependant on the time of year, a network operator’s promotion may be more appealing.
Another key change within the industry is the introduction of Bolt-On services. Similar to the handset manufacturers, software providers can influence the network operators appeal as they may subsidise the overall offer if there product is purchased.
By taking a bolt-on service like Office 365 or McAfee Anti-Virus, for a little extra per month, this may help make the choice of handset more palatable.
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Most people are aware that an 0800 call is free of charge, but it is a different story when it comes to an 0844, 0330 or 0901 number. Dependant on the specific number chosen, you can decide to pay for your customers calls, or generate a revenue from them.
Non-geographic numbers are an ideal way to promote a nationwide presence and route calls to the most effective area of your business.
These memorable numbers don’t have a fixed location, they are virtual and can be redirected to landline, mobile number or even have a complex routing plan assigned.