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A Guide to VoIP

Guide to VoIP | Gradwell

If you’re unsure about VoIP, thinking of purchasing a VoIP service, or have only a faint idea of what VoIP actually is, you’re in the right place; Gradwell has almost 20 years of experience in supplying and supporting Voice over Internet Protocol, or VoIP, to over 20,000 customers nationwide and beyond.  It’s safe to say we know what we’re talking about.

What’s VoIP?

VoIP is the communication of voice, data or video content over IP (Internet Protocol) networks. In simple terms, VoIP is the use of broadband for telephony and other services.

Ever used Facebook’s call function? That’s VoIP. FaceTime or FaceTime Audio? VoIP again. Skype? Well, you get the idea.
VoIP telephone services allow you to make low cost calls over the internet; using a multitude of different networks and operators, you can connect with members of staff, clients and customers across the globe both cost-effectively and efficiently.
There’s very little to get to grips with when making a VoIP call – you dial a number, and connect through to the person(s) on the other end – most of the time you won’t even realise the difference!

So what’s the point? Well, VoIP is incredibly cheap (sometimes free!), usually faster, more reliable and, what’s more, affords numerous flexible features.

Back in the early days of VoIP, the unreliability of dial-up connections meant that landline calls were highly superior – VoIP was beset by poor audio quality and high drop rate.  However, with modern internet speeds, including Fibre Optic broadband and Leased Lines, VoIP telephony far surpasses landline connectivity in quality and innovation.  If you run a business, you know how beneficial this is: vital sales calls, multi-partner conference calls, being available for your customer or client when they need you the most.  Furthermore, VoIP is a great addition to your home – in fact, it may become essential, with Openreach planning to switch off their ISDN network by 2025, migrating nearly all UK landlines over to a SIP trunk (VoIP) service.

How Does VoIP Work?

But how does this differentiate from traditional phone calls? In terms of landline calls (or ISDN and PSTN, to give the two types their technical names), VoIP bypasses the national landline network’s copper wire by using data packets of information (usually audio) transmitted across an IP network.

These IP packets are received over the packet-switched network, and ‘de-packetised’ as the voice you hear through your VoIP endpoint – the technical term for a VoIP desktop phone, VoIP mobile phone, soft phone application (VoIP Software), or other receiver.

Mobile phones operate calls through connection to the PSTN, maintained via a terrestrial network of base stations.
When you use VoIP, your voice is converted into digital information which is then transmitted in as data over the internet, unlike the way traditional phone lines work via a local phone provider.

A Private Branch Exchange (PBX) is a term you may have seen being used. This refers to the main piece of tech that routes all your calls, using Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) in SIP trunks to make those connections.

Your PBX can be a physical bit of hardware, run and maintained by you (or your IT department); however, with modern cloud solutions, your VoIP provider can usually run your PBX via the cloud. This elegant solution affords you the ability to control your VoIP functionalities with a personal online control panel, resulting in instant access to your add-ons and personal features, as well as a real-time overview of your VoIP service.

An Inter-Asterisk eXchange (IAX) is an alternative to the PBX that involves a different level of authentication. In basic terms, the two can be compared to petrol and diesel – they do the same job, but in different ways.
Phew….. that’s enough acronyms for now.

What Are The Benefits Of VoIP?

One of the main benefits of using a VoIP telephony service is that you can talk to anyone, anywhere as long as you have an internet connection.

A VoIP solution is a capable and reliable service, with only 10 Kbps required bandwidth in each direction, compared to 64 Kbps bandwidth required with a PSTN phone service.

Remote extensions are usually standard with VoIP, PSTN extensions are expensive when using PSTN, as additional dedicated line installs are needed.

Furthermore, disaster recovery is usually standard with most VoIP services. Gradwell offers a comprehensive disaster recovery service, including remote access to your system, Gradwell Cloud Backup, and rerouting to business mobiles. In the event of a major disaster, VoIP is one of the only systems that provides constant customer contact capabilities.

Ultimately, the outstanding benefit of VoIP is the price.

Not only is there the capacity to conduct a variety of free calls, but the monthly costs are phenomenally lower. The average business line rental for PSTN is almost 4x times greater than the VoIP equivalent. As bandwidth is utilised efficiently, there is less wastage – one internet connection is all that’s necessary to transmit all voice information.

The VoIP Cherry on Top

A VoIP solution provides you with the unique opportunity to take advantage of a wide variety of additional services:
Call Recording – With a choice of VoIP call recording solutions, you’ll be able to send call recordings straight to the Cloud Storage service of your choice.

Keep your number

 – Becoming a VoIP customer doesn’t mean losing your existing PSTN phone number.

International numbers

 – Reach a global audience and work from any location with an international phone number.

International Mobile Minutes Bundles

 – Many suppliers offer worldwide minutes bundles; Gradwell’s Zonal based International Mobile Minute packages start from only five pence per minute.

Memorable numbers

 – Strengthen your brand, track marketing activity and manage business performance with an instantly memorable number. Gradwell provides Gold, Silver and Bronze tier numbers.

Call forwarding

 – With call forwarding as an add on to your VoIP, you’ll be able to redirect any call from a UK or international phone number to your office, PC or mobile phone.

Directory Enquiries

 – Ensure your business can be found quickly and easily by listing your number on the BT directory enquiries service.

Voicemail-to-text or Voicemail-to-email

 – Voicemails are instantly translated into SMS text and email messages, which you can pick up and read anytime, from anywhere.


 – Save time, money and go greener with our fax to email service: no fax machine required.


What Equipment do I need?

If you opt for a physical (on premise) PBX, you’ll need a location at your business to house the PBX, as well as actually purchasing the PBX.

A VoIP Phone may be the most obvious bit of hardware that you may need; these are phones designed specifically for VoIP networks, and come in a variety of formats. Whether they’re desktop, cordless or conference phones, you can guarantee on a stable, high-quality connection.

We recommend renowned companies such as Snom, Yealink, Netgear, Gigaset, Sennheiser and Cisco for your VoIP phone, and – of course – Gradwell offers all of these brands for purchase.

You may wish to invest in headsets (both wired and wireless), or other accessories, including DECT clips and specific receivers.
Adapters work over an IP network, connecting analogue phones and fax machines to a VoIP network. A great choice for any business with a set of analogue phones already at its disposal.

Software Phones, or Softphones are downloadable applications that live on your computer. They usually consist of a keypad for making call, plus numerous other 

VoIP functions, such as call recording. 

Softphones such as Zoiper can be downloaded and utilised for very low cost – a great way to integrate your communication solutions as an alternative to physical VoIP phones. One service in particular called 3CX has a very sophisticated soft-phone, and comes as standard with the solution. 

PBX Alternatives 

If you choose to go with a hosted PBX service, the provider will house and service the PBX at a monthly fee; many customers opt for this, as maintaining an on-premise PBX can take a lot of time and technical know-how. 

A Virtual PBX is a possible third option. While it lacks some of the functions of a full hosted PBX, the costs are substantially lower, and the use of SIP Trunking means that calls can still be routed appropriately. With the advent of cloud systems, a virtual PBX may be a more appropriate solution in the future. 

Internet Connection 

As mentioned previously, you’ll need a good-quality internet connection to support a VoIP service. Gradwell offer a fantastic range of connectivity services that can be found here. 

VoIP Packages 

Once you certain you have the technical capability to support a VoIP solution, the next step is to choose your package. 

What VoIP packages do you offer? 

Does your provider offer a monthly minute’s bundle or charge by the second? Is the package designed for a single user or for multiple users? How customisable are the packages? All of these questions are highly pertinent when procuring the most appropriate VoIP solution for you; remember to bear in mind the length of contract, if one is offered to you. 

How will you support me? 

Is the support team based locally, and are they available 24/7? Through which channels are you able to reach them? Although a VoIP service is relatively intuitive, you made need their help if there are issues with your systems. If you’re opting for a physical PBX, you’ll need to make sure there’s open lines of communication in case you need to permit access, or accept a delivery. 

How secure is my VoIP service? 

Most suppliers offer disaster recovery backup as standard, for example, Gradwell provides remote access service to ensure your VoIP system can be reactivated in a different location, cloud storage to guarantee none of your files are lost, and optional rerouting of the business network to employees’ mobiles. If you’re running a business, you’ll know the critical impact of communication downtimes on your activities, so make sure to check that your supplier has the necessary contingencies planned out. 

What extras do you offer? 

Of the above options (Call Recording, Memorable Numbers, Voice-to-text etc.), which are standard with which packages? And which result in an additional cost? One of the key benefits of a VoIP solution is the easily enabled added features; you’ll need to make sure you can pick the package most suited to you, and that you’re not paying extra for any functions you don’t need. 

How Can Gradwell Help? 

Gradwell’s award-winning cloud phone services are perfect for smaller and growing businesses.

As we said earlier, we’ve been at the forefront innovative VoIP technologies ever since 1998; from our award-winning technical teams, to dedicated customer support professionals – communication and knowledge are at the heart of what we do. 

We pride ourselves on being flexible, we don’t tie our customers to unnecessarily lengthy contracts, and we bill by the second – making your budget go further. We’re sure you’ll love our services, and so we offer a 30-day money back guarantee on our telephony call services. 

If you choose Gradwell, calls between your VoIP-enabled offices are free. On top of that, any calls made between Gradwell-serviced phones are free; if the whole country used Gradwell, no one would pay for domestic calls! 

Get in touch with an expert today.