Using SIP Phones with Hosted VOIP

Guest Author: This week’s blog was brought to us by Tiffany Torbert — Tiffany is excited with the new technologies that are threatening to change the way we stay in touch and communicate, particular in business. She works with companies that are introducing these technologies to make understanding them easy for regular people.

voip colorsEveryone knows that you can connect any phone to a hosted VoIP line, right? But what advantages does connecting a SIP phone provide? There are actually a number of them.

It might be natural to think that your work is over once your enterprise has made the decision to go with hosted VoIP. After all, VoIP can run nearly entirely in the cloud, so you won’t have to worry about keeping the resources around to manage the telephony services in-house. This alone can take a load off your mind. And it’ll certainly make life a lot easier for IT. At the same time, though, your employees will still be using their same old desk phones for their telephony needs. And there will be critical decisions to be made in this area — and I don’t mean simply who your hosted VoIP provider will be.

One of the decisions you’ll have to make will be which SIP phone you’ll want to use in order to complement your VoIP service. After all, all SIP phones are not made the same, as some people might have you think. If you do think this, then you might miss out on some critical features that might not be apparent until after your purchase. In order to assure this does not happen to you, here’s three key attributes of SIP phones that you should look for when you’re planning your move to hosted VoIP. They’re based on my extensive research.

  1. Ensure Compatibility with Your VoIP Provider

This might sound like a no-brainer, but it’s interesting how many times I’ve seen this one overlooked. Surprisingly, though, it’s a complex topic. The main gist of it, though, is that the VoIP service and the SIP phones are going to make up an entire single unit working together. They’ll be a holistic telephony solution, if you will. There are a wide variety of VoIP providers to pick from, and they all have many different features. At the same time, not all of the SIP phones are certified to work with all VoIP providers. So you need to do some homework beforehand in order to be certain that both of them working together will give you the features that you think you must have. If you don’t do this previous legwork, you will risk selling yourself short. At best, you’ll be undermining your own investment in the SIP phones and hosted VoIP; at worst it simply won’t work.

  1. Provide a Quality Experience

SIP phones are about delivering the best parts of VoIP to your workers, more than anything else. When using hosted VoIP, getting a dial tone reliably should be a given. You also shouldn’t need to worry about network management or connectivity. Since VoIP service is pretty much a commodity, the real distinctions are drawn at the endpoints, where the workers interface one-to-one with VoIP directly.

Legacy telephony has actually set the bar for quality pretty high, so VoIP audio quality has to be even better on a consistent basis. Its core feature set also has to be easy to use. If you try and go the inexpensive route — low-end phones that have poor audio quality — your workers will quickly notice, and soon become disenfranchised. To make sure that this does not happen, the SIP phones you choose should be able to use the high-quality G.729 codec. If you want to shoot even higher, for high-def. audio, then look for the G.722 wideband codec.

Simply put, if the SIP phones you invest in do not provide a quality experience, your workers will move on the other modes of communication that do. They’ll use mobile devices, or PC-based VoIP, perhaps — thus completely invalidating your investment in hosted VoIP.

  1. Fulfill the Needs of Your Employees

The workforce of today is frequently mobile and certainly always-on. Legacy telephony fails to address these needs, but it is exactly these sorts of things that VoIP addresses. As far as SIP goes, you should look for Power Over Ethernet, which uses any broadband connection to provide direct network connectivity. With this technology, any location can be utilized by a worker; they’ll get all of the same calling features they’d have at their desk.

Although SIP phones do not offer any mobile functions outside of the office, you can use DECT-based cordless SIP phones to serve the needs of those employees that need to be away from their desks but can remain on site. DECT phones offer a long range and a signal that doesn’t interfere with Wi-Fi. Another use case might be that of desk-based workers whose primary task is working with the phone, such as call center agents. These people would love to have headsets that have good audio quality, are comfortable, and are easy to use.

But not all SIP phone dealers will stock headsets. And not each third-party headset is going to be completely interoperable with every SIP phone. Specifically, you need to also evaluate the merits of cordless versus wired headset models. Cordless models offer a greater range of movement, yet be aware that there are two different types — DECT and Bluetooth. The former has a significantly greater signal range.

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