VoIP, short for Voice Over Internet Protocol, simply means that telephone calls are made through the internet, rather than a landline, ISDN or mobile network. There are two ways you can get a business VoIP phone system: buy the equipment and host one yourself or subscribe to a hosted phone system such as the Horizon platform we offer. Which is best for you will depend on your requirements, but usually it's the cloud-based hosted service we recommend to most businesses as it will provide you with more features and the best reliability at a predictable monthly cost.
How does VoIP Work?
A VoIP system works by taking your analogue voice signal and converting it into a digital signal that can be transferred over a broadband line.
Unlike traditional phone systems where you need a physical phone, you could use any of the following to make VoIP calls:
- A VoIP Phone
- A computer
- A smartphone
The best business VoIP services will let you transfer calls between all three of these options.
What are the advantages of VoIP?
There is a wide range of benefits of VoIP over traditional phone systems; in this section we look at those in more detail. As a guide, you can expect the following benefits from your VoIP phone system:
- Lower service costs
- Increased accessibility
- Improved portability
- Advanced features
- Clearer voice quality
- Flexibility with softphones
Controlling costs in business is vital, which is why the first benefit of VoIP phone systems we want to bring to your attention is that in most cases, lowers costs. Of course, how much it lowers costs by will very much depend on the systems you currently have in place, but we would usually expect to see savings of anywhere up to 50%. Yes, that's right, VoIP services can save you up to 50% when compared to a traditional phone system with an ISDN line.
Cost savings vs a traditional PBX
When it comes to a traditional phone system, businesses must make a huge investment in the handsets and PBX hardware. A PBX on its own can cost thousands of pounds, and while that can often be leased over a number of years, getting set up still represents a massive cost.
In contrast, hosted VoIP services such as our Horizon platform, do away with the capital outlay and simply charge you per user per month for everything.
To run a traditional phone system prior to VoIP you would need telephone lines such as ISDN and also internal cabling to every desk. Each and every time you want to add another person to the system, you'd need to get them connected via a cable running back to the PBX, this is of course in addition to any networking you need for your computer systems. The great thing with business VoIP systems and handsets is that they run over the same network as your computers, completely removing the need to have a second connection going back to your comms room. Not only that, but they can also even run over wireless, which while not quite as reliable as a physical network cable, can give you more flexibility over where the handset is located in the office. Finally, as we know, ISDN line rental is costly and is being phased out in favour of SIP lines - by moving to a VoIP service, all of your calls go over your internet connection, so you can rid yourself of one more on-going cost.
Direct savings also come in the form of reduced call costs, with many VoIP services even offering substantial free call packages; ours, for instance, gives you 2000 minutes to UK landlines and 2000 minutes to UK mobiles per user per month! VoIP calls can be up to 60% cheaper domestically and sometimes up to 90% cheaper internationally than calls via PSTN or ISDN.
Another significant cost related to traditional phone systems and handsets is the maintenance costs. When you purchase a PBX you'll invariably take out a support service alongside it with a local provider so that as or when you have issues or want to make changes you have someone to call upon. Those maintenance costs add up and as your system gets older, you'll likely find that the support fees only increase.
By getting a hosted VoIP system you remove the need for a maintenance contract to support your PBX. You don't own the hardware and therefore don't need to support it. You pay your monthly fee per phone and the rest is taken care of for you.
Putting cost savings to one side, there are a number of other benefits to VoIP for businesses, one of which is increased accessibility. With VoIP phones, as long as you have an internet connection you can make a call, so that means you can call from your desktop, laptop, or smartphone and have calls routed to all of those devices too. If you're unable to answer a call, you can direct them to another person, or have voicemail to email. You can take your business phone anywhere with you with a simple softphone app.
With Covid-19 still looming over the UK, giving your team the ability to pick up their phone and work from anywhere is a massive advantage.
A VoIP number is completely portable which means you can use the same number wherever you go. For some people that travel often, this is welcome news as they can appear to be in the office from anywhere in the world. Better yet, in the event that your business changes its address or your employees need to work from home for an extended period of time, you can all keep your phone numbers.
Scalability is a benefit often associated with VoIP as it provides business owners with a system that can grow as their company grows. A cloud VoIP solution does away with the need to purchase expensive hardware or a dedicated telephone line as a business grows. Got a new office opening? Simply order a few more handsets and ship them to site.
VoIP provides you with a number of advanced features such as auto-attendant and call forwarding that help small businesses project a much larger image. Equally, it can help large enterprise-scale organisations feel more approachable. It all comes down to how the system is set up.
Let's say you have a Birmingham-based business, which serves clients across the UK, but especially in London. By signing up with a VoIP provider like T2K you can get a phone number with the London area code, even though you're not based there. This gives your customers the impression you're a local business even though you might not be.
Similarly, the auto-attendant and call forwarding features can make you look larger than you are. For example, you could be a sole trader but you've set up your VoIP system to seem like you're a company with several departments.
The best business VoIP systems, regardless of whether they are hosted or onsite, provide organisations of all sizes a huge number of features to choose from.
Clearer voice quality
Clearer voice quality is the final benefit of VoIP we'd like to draw your attention to. When VoIP was first rolled out around the world one of the primary issues customers raised was the inferior call quality, primarily caused by poor, unstable internet connections.
Today, as long as you have a fast and stable internet connection, voice quality shouldn't be an issue. VoIP calls tend to be clear and crisp, with no latency, lag or call dropout issues.
The key to VoIP call quality is having broadband or a leased line which is reliable and has plenty of bandwidth. If your connection is slow and often drops, then it's a warning sign that VoIP might not be the right fit for your business.
What is Unified Communications?
Unified communications refer to a phone system which integrates multiple communication methods. A business probably communicates in a number of ways, such as phone calls, video conferencing, instant messaging, email, SMS, Fax etc. A Unified Communications service connects all of the ways your business communicates, letting them talk to each other in one system and making your business more efficient.
Choosing the best VoIP provider
As a customer, it's important that you spend time reviewing your options before you choose your VoIP provider. With almost every company offering cheap calls, here are some of the reasons why we think we're the best choice for your business.
- Minimal or no capital outlay
- The choice between hosted or onsite solution
- UK based customer support
- Highly rated and reviewed
- Over 25 years of experience
- Experienced with small and large business
Introducing Horizon - Our cloud-based hosted PBX system
Our cloud-based VoIP platform is a complete business communications service that provides an extensive range of fixed and mobile telephony capabilities via an easy-to-use web portal.
Business focussed features that have an emphasis on control and administration take the burden of management away from your IT team. We can manage and configure the system to your specific needs and each user can then manage their calls effectively, maximising their productivity.
Easy to use interface
With a wide range of call handling features, all accessible via a web dashboard, Horizon gives users convenient access to all of the following:
- Call history
- Voicemail to email
- Easy call routing
- Recorded calls (Optional)
- Call stats (Optional)
Improved team working
Horizon cloud VoIP improves team working through a variety of excellent features, all included as standard with your VoIP system's subscription:
1) Adhoc conferencing
Start a conference at any time, without scheduling a meeting, simply drag and drop users from your contacts to an open within and you can enjoy all of the features of a planned conference.
2 ) Hunt Groups
Distribute calls across your team using Hunt Groups, it doesn't matter where the team is based, or even if they're in the same office, if they're in a group and available they can be included in your call routing. Choose from the following five ways to call the group:
- Circular - Sends calls to users based on their position in a list
- Regular - Sends calls to the next available user in the hunt group
- Simultaneous - Sends incoming calls to all of the users at the same time
- Uniform - Send the call to the user who has been idle the longest
- Weighted - Assigns calls to users based on percentages you set in the Hunt Group
3 ) Call Transfer
Transfer calls to any internal or external number quickly and easily and not only that, easily receive the call back if no one answers. Simply enable the settings and you'll have the option of how many times a transferred call should ring before it's transferred back to you. You don't need to answer either, using Blind Transfer you can transfer a call without speaking to the person.
4 ) Common or customisable settings for sites, groups and departments
Reduce admin and maintain consistency across the organisation by grouping sites, teams and departments together. Changes in settings can then be rolled out on a per-site, team or department basis.
5) Call park
Put a call on hold and pick up on another phone, giving you the flexibility to move around the office and even switch to a mobile device or computer.
6) Call Pick-up
Someone in the team away from their desk? With Call Pick-Up you can take the call and let the person know when your colleague will be back at their desk. This feature not only allows you to answer colleagues phones but lets you pick up calls that are in a call waiting state too.
7) Call Waiting and music on hold
Call waiting queues callers and ensures you're ready to take the next call. With music on hold, you can choose to play waiting music or even promotional messages while your customers wait.
8) Auto Attendant
Auto-attendant provides menu options to callers so that their call can be routed to the correct person or team. You can create a bespoke schedule that enables the auto-attendant only during working hours and disables it when the office is closed or it's a holiday.
With a range of features specifically designed to help your team maximise their efficiency, Horizon is the business VoIP solution that small businesses and large businesses use to avoid wasted time.
1) Last number redial and click to dial
Quickly redial the last number that was called, received or missed and use your computer to Click to Dial anyone in your contacts list.
2) Presence or Pre-set Availability
Manage incoming calls with Presence and Pre-set Availability, if you know you're not going to be available, your business phone needn't ring and call routing can take the caller to someone that is available. Choose from four different availability profiles:
- Available In Office
- Available - Out of office
All of these profiles include the ability to manage incoming call functions, for example, Call Forwarding, Busy, Voice Messaging and Call Notify.
3) Anonymous call Rejection or Selective call Rejections
Anonymous call reject enables a user to reject calls from people that have restricted their caller ID. By activating the service via Horizon's web portal, callers without identification will be informed that the user isn't accepting calls at that time. The user's phone won't ring and the user won't see or hear any indication that a call was attempted. This service, of course, doesn't apply to calls from within the business or group.
4) Auto Call Back and Busy Lamp Keys
If you call another person in your company and they're busy you can use Automatic Call Back to be notified when they're off the phone. Equally, you can have Busy Lamp Keys on your phone handset which show you whether another user is on a call or not.
5) Do Not Disturb
Do Not Disturb will show you're unavailable and automatically reject attempted calls or transfers.
6) Company Directory
With Company Directory you can assign up to 100-speed dials for your favourite numbers. Save time and avoid having to search for a popular number.
7) Call Recording
Use call recording to create audit trails and ensure compliance. Equally you can use call recording for training purposes and be able to quickly and easily listen back to calls that have taken place.
Mobile and flexible working
Our VoIP service gives you and your team so much flexibility to be able to work from anywhere. Enjoy features such as Call Forwarding to manage calls effectively, Home Worker to take profiles and settings home, Voicemail to email to never miss an important call and Hot desking to move around and work from anywhere.
IP Phones - Our Choice of Handsets
We stock a variety of Polycom and Yealink handsets that are compatible with our Horizon cloud-based VoIP service.
Polycom VVX 150 Phone
The Polycom VVX 150 handset is an entry-level phone suitable for handling low to moderate call volumes. The VVX 150 provides a high-quality but cost-effective solution with advanced unified communications (UC) features. With an intuitive user interface, usability and navigation is simple and straightforward, with minimal training required.
Polycom VVX 250 Phone
The Polycom VVX 250 is a basic VoIP phone with a colour display. It’s a high quality, IP phone that has four lines and provides excellent sound quality. It’s ideal for office workers who need the quality features that a modern business environment demands.
With Polycom HD Voice delivering superior high definition sound quality, the VVX 250 has advanced voice processing capabilities.
Polycom VVX 450 Phone
The Polycom VVX 450 is a step up from the previous models featuring 12 lines, and is a high performance desk phone with a colour display. It’s a high quality IP phone that’s stacked with features for today’s busy executives and upper management. It’s a perfect fit for all environments with the HD Voice delivering superior sound quality. The Polycom Acoustic Fence technology, minimises background noises, echoes and distractions.
Yealink W25P Cordless
The Yealink W25P Cordless IP Phone is the perfect fit for busy small businesses that need a flexible device that can roam around an office. In our experience, the Yealink W25P is the best wireless business VoIP phone currently available, feature-rich and cost-effective, the perfect companion to our Horizon cloud-based VoIP service.
Polycom Trio 8500 Conference Phone
The Polycom Trio 8500 takes conference calling to the next level. It’s a sleek and sophisticated model with a full-colour screen for ease of navigation and use. With Polycom’s market-leading voice quality, you can be sure that your meetings will be seamless.
Polycom Trio 8800 Conference Phone
The Polycom Trio 8800 is the modern conference phone that marries excellent voice quality with video and content performance. The Polycom Trio can turn meeting rooms into a collaborative, hassle-free team working environment.
Tips when you're choosing a VoIP provider
With hundreds of UK VoIP providers to choose from it can be difficult to know what the key differences are between them. In this section, we give you our top tips to consider when you're choosing your VoIP provider.
Prices between VoIP providers can vary quite significantly so it's important to get several quotes to understand each will charge you per month.
Work out how many minutes you use approximately per month and then look to see if it's worth paying a set fee for a certain number of minutes or would it be less expensive with a pay-as-you-go provider?
Spending an hour researching the options will ultimately save you a lot of money on calls.
It's important that you do proper research on all of the VoIP providers you're speaking to, check their ratings on review sites and if possible speak to some of their existing customers.
VoIP services require a significant amount of investment to keep them operational, so you need to know that as a customer you're in safe hands.
3) Ease of use
Some VoIP providers will provide you with complicated instructions which are difficult to follow and will make using the system a real struggle. Others will perform the installation for you and be on hand to give you training on how to use the system. Look for a provider that gives you that level of customer service as it's vital you've got a good grasp of the system.
If you're fairly technical already this may not be too important to you, but for everyone else, the simpler the better.
4) Choose a provider for the features you'll use
The functionality that VoIP system provides is far greater than you'd expect from a traditional phone or even a PBX system, because of that you'll want to make sure you familiarise yourself with all of the things the cloud-based platforms you're looking at can do.
While many of these features will be included in your monthly service fee, some will attract an additional charge so speaking to each provider to establish what it'll cost for you to use such features is important.
5) Can you scale the service up and down?
VoIP gives your business the opportunity to connect your staff quicker and easier than ever before, but what happens if your business grows or shrinks?
In most cases scaling a VoIP service up won't be an issue and the provider that you're working with will be more than happy to sell you another license for the platform. But what happens if you need to reduce the number of subscriptions you have? Make sure you speak to the VoIP provider about this, the last thing you will want is to be tied into a contract for a person that's no longer in the business.
6) How secure is the service?
Technology by its nature can be prone to security threats so understanding what security measures are in place to protect your VoIP calls is vital. Can you imagine what might happen if you were, for instance, using call recording and someone got their hands on all of your historical calls? It doesn't bear thinking about, so make sure you check with your VoIP service provider whether they support secure communications and what measures they have in place.
7) Customer support
It's likely that as you use the hosted VoIP service there will be certain things you need assistance with, so check with your provider what level of customer support they provide. The best VoIP providers will offer 24/7 technical support so look out for this.
8) Choice of phone numbers
The great thing with VoIP phones is that you can have a phone number anywhere in the UK. This is great if you're running a market campaign in one city but you're actually located somewhere else, all of the calls will still come through to your business phone but from the customer's perspective, you appear to be local.
9) Number porting
The best VoIP Providers will let you "port" or move your existing phone number over to the new service. Check with your account manager or customer service that this is available before taking the service out to ensure you can keep your number.
About Us - A UK based VoIP Service Provider
Based close to Bournemouth, T2K was founded over 28 years ago as a specialist business telephony provider. Today, we support hundreds of businesses and thousands of users across the UK with both hosted and onsite phone systems. Being at the forefront of the development of VoIP systems, we're perfectly placed to provide you with expert advice based on years of experience. Our customers range from small business right through to large multisite organisations with complex networking requirements.
UK Based Customer Service
The strength of our business comes from our customer service, we provide stability, reliability and continuity via our 100% UK based support. Most of our staff have been with us for ten years or more, which means our customers get the same great service from our dedicated team, time after time.
With dedicated account management we ensure that your business receives the very best customer service available.
When you're comparing VoIP providers, it's important to find one that's got a track record of reliability. Ultimately the provider you choose will be your telephony partner for the foreseeable future, so it's important you take your time when you're speaking to the various VoIP providers.
Get In Touch
Give Us a Call
If you're looking to enquire about products, give us a call directly on 0808 202 3200. Our helpful team will be able to advise or help you every step of the way - It's a hassle-free process.