Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP) may seem like a new technology, but its origins go back more than 25 years. In 1989, entrepreneur Alan Cohen founded VocalTec, Inc. in Israel and developed the technology that would be part of the Internet’s first voice service in 1996.The technology has changed rapidly since that time, and is now in high demand all over the world. Considering how VoIP has made international communication more affordable for everyone, the demand is not surprising.

VoIP Doesn’t Charge by the Minute

Telecommunications providers charge by the minute when a person makes a long-distance call using a landline or a cell phone. That means businesses routinely placing overseas calls could have a telephone bill for several thousand dollars by the end of the month. With VoIP, the regular monthly fee for high-speed Internet access is the only cost. Since this is typically a fixed amount, business owners can budget for the cost of international communication in advance. When compared to a regular telephone or cell phone, VoIP users can save as much as 90 percent on international calls and 40 percent on local calls.

Affordable Hardware and Software with Flexible Features

Getting started with VoIP is inexpensive because most people and businesses already have at least one computer. People have the option of purchasing a microphone, speakers, and sound card or downloading a program like Skype that allows people to make calls over the Internet. Users can also added features as needed, such as contact lists, 911 service, 411 service, and caller ID. There are also a number of advanced VoIP features, such as anonymous call block, call transfer, and distinctive ringtones for different callers.

Avoiding and Recovering From Disasters

Land-based communication systems are unfortunately susceptible to damage outside of a businesses control. Aside from equipment failure due to age or everyday exposure to the elements, events like earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes and wildfires can cripple communication on a massive scale. Elizabeth Huber, CEO of the Missouri based IT provider Huber & Associates recently spoke with me about the increase in demand for VoIP services, noting “Hurricane Sandy really opened people’s eyes to the role VoIP systems can keep lines of communication open. All along the East Coast, businesses and organizations had extended power outages and phone systems underwater, quite literally. Hosted VoIP was an essential part of many businesses disaster recovery efforts”. VoIP systems can be deployed quickly, and save business the financial burden of replacing the damaged phone system amid the many challenges faced while recovering from disaster.

Conference Call Capability

Typical phone calls are limited to the caller and receiver, but VoIP provides the ability to set up a conference call for multiple people. Those involved in the meeting can even see one another if desired. It’s safe to say the VoIP has changed the way many companies do business.