Internet telephony – What is it and how does it work?

What is Internet Telephony?
Internet telephony refers to all features of traditional telephony (phone calls, fax, voicemail etc.) where all calls and data are sent over the Internet rather than over traditional landlines. Examples of internet telephony services include the NFON Cloud Telephone System and Skype for Business.
Internet Telephony vs. Voice over IP (VoIP)
Internet telephony and Voice over IP (VoIP) are often used synonymously. While internet telephony refers to any internet phone system, Voice over IP is a specific method for placing phone calls over the internet.

With internet telephony from NFON, it is possible to integrate Unified Communications (UC) and fax solutions over XCAPI.


What is Voice over IP (VoIP)?
Voice over IP (VoIP) is the most common method for placing phone calls over the Internet. Traditionally phone calls were sent as analog signals through telephone lines. With VoIP, your call is converted into data that is sent over the Internet: Audio is sent over IP (Internet Protocol). This is the same technology that allows us to browse websites on the Internet.


How does an Internet Phone System Work?
In order to use an Internet phone system, it is necessary to have a VoIP solution such as the NFON Cloud Telephone System.

As you speak through a microphone (laptop, mobile or headset) your voice - the audio signal - is digitised. This data is split into packets and given individual labels.


Your call is made up of different packets of data. Each packet of data travels over the Internet to the recipient. When the data arrives at the end destination it is put back into the correct order. The data is then converted into audio and the recipient hears what you said.

Interestingly, the data packets don’t necessarily arrive in the order they were sent: they can overtake each other en route. When then arrive they are reassembled in the correct order and your message can be heard by the recipient.

Internet-telephony

How is Internet Phone Data Handled Securely?
When you send data over the Internet, it is usually sent over a server. Whether email or document storage, your data is stored or sent from the server of the service you are using. This is the same with the NFON Cloud Telephone System. Your data is hosted on secure, geo redundant, inland data centres. Our servers comply with the EU Electronic Communications law and meet the highest standards of data security, system availability, accounting precision, and many more. NFON data centres have been certified according to ISO/IEC 27001 – Information Security Management.


What is the Difference Between Internet-based and Traditional Phone Calls?
Voice over IP uses the Internet Protocol to make phone calls. Traditionally, phone calls were made over the PSTN (Public Switched Telephone Network). Originally the PSTN was fixed-line analog network. Now, however, the PSTN network is mainly digital. It refers to a mix of telephone lines, fibre optic cables and cellular networks and undersea cables.

The key difference between PSTN and VoIP is that the PSTN is circuit-switched network. This means a dedicated channel is established for the duration of the phone call. VoIP uses the Internet Protocol (IP). With VoIP calls, a fixed line is not established. Instead, data packets are routed between the IP addresses of the caller and the recipient. This means data is sent according to the most efficient route and individual data packets may travel over different nodes of the network. VoIP takes advantage of the existing architecture of the Internet. As no fixed channel needs to be established it is much more cost effective than traditional telephony.


Can You Call External Numbers / Regular Phones with VoIP?

Most VoIP solutions allows you to call non-VoIP users whether they use mobile or landline connections. This means you can enjoy the benefits of VoIP and still connect with non VoIP users.


How does this work?
This is accomplished over a VoIP gateway. This gateway connects the VoIP system to the PSTN network. Likewise this connection makes it possible for PSTN users (landline) to call VoIP numbers. This is handled automatically by VoIP solutions, making calling non-VoIP users simple.


What Options are There for Using VoIP?
There are four main options for using VoIP:


Install VoIP Software on Laptop/PC
The first option is to install a VoIP client on your laptop or PC. This enables you to turn your computer into a VoIP-ready device. Audio is captured through the microphone and played through the speakers. Additionally, VoIP clients often include additional functionality such as instant messaging and video calls. No hardware is required for this setup.


Use VoIP-enabled End Devices
Secondly, it is possible to use specific VoIP-enabled end devices as well as IP and SIP telephones. These differ from standard telephones in terms of the technology that enables the data transfer over the internet. These types of phones usually have an ethernet connection that plugs into your modem or router. 

IP-Telephone

Convert a Conventional Phone to VoIP with an ATA
It’s also possible to convert your conventional landline connection to VoIP. This is done by using a special Analog Telephone Adapter (ATA). This adapter connects your phone line to your modem or router and digitises your analog phone call. This lets you use your normal phone to make VoIP calls.

VoIP on Your Smartphone
Finally, it is also possible to use a mobile phone by connecting through the telephone system over an app - the FMC client. The FMC client is software that makes your mobile an extension of the VoIP telephone system. This means if you’re out on the road and want to make a call your client sees your office number. Not only this but the FMC client always looks to optimize your costs. It does this by automatically selecting the most cost effective way to place your call whether via WLAN or mobile data.
By combining an office desk VoIP setup with your mobile device, you can take your business communication to the next level.


What are Typical Business Use Cases of an Internet Phone System?



Calls Within the Company
NFON Cloud Telephone System provides the functionality of a traditional internal company phone network without any of the disadvantages. There is no need for expensive hardware installation or a costly service provider. Instead all of this is made possible over the Internet and our cloud system. Additionally, calls within the company are entirely free. This includes calls between different offices, even between branches in different countries.


Calls to an External Company or External Mobile
The NFON Cloud Telephone System allows you to make VoIP calls to external company numbers (landline or mobile). This means you can enjoy all the benefits of VoIP calling and still connect with non-VoIP users.


Use Your Smartphone as an Extension
By connecting your smartphone to the NFON Cloud Telephone System, you can use VoIP right from your mobile. This is done by downloading the app - also called FMC client - to your phone. In a few simple clicks, you have all the functionality of the NFON Cloud System right from your mobile phone. Whether sat at your desk or out on the road with your smartphone, you have one universal number where people can reach you.

What are the Advantages of Internet Phone Systems?
There are many advantages of Internet phone systems compared to traditional phone setups. Let’s take a look at just some of these:


Cost
VoIP is considerably more cost effective than traditional landline and mobile providers. Why is this? VoIP makes very effective use of the Internet to efficiently transport data - your call - to the recipient.


No Installation of Hardware
VoIP is cloud based making the installation of traditional hardware redundant. This makes getting started, quicker, easier and more cost effective.


Increased Functionality
The NFON Cloud System makes Unified Communications (UC) possible. With seamless integrations with major players such as Skype for Business, functionality such as video calling, and instant messaging are just a click away.


How Do You Migrate From Traditional Phone Systems to VoIP?
All you need is a reliable internet connection. VoIP / Internet phone solutions such as NFON take care of the rest. There is no tricky setup or installation on your computer as everything is hosted on our secure servers.
Further Resources:

VoIP
IP Address
NFON Cloud Telephone System (product page)