VoIP Makes Office Phones Smarter & More Powerful
One of the great things about a cloud-based phone service like ShoreTel Sky, is that we own, manage and house all of the hardware and software that is needed to run your phone system. There is no need for servers in your closet or IT resources to maintain the system. However, users still need something on which to make and receive calls. ShoreTel Sky gives clients three choices to best fit how they work. Users can chose from a VoIP phone, a VoIP softphone or ShoreTel Sky Mobility, which lets your smartphone work like a VoIP handset.
What is a VoIP Phone?
A VoIP or IP phone is simply a handset that uses voice over IP (VoIP) technology to allow calls to be made and received over an IP network (like the Internet) instead of using the traditional Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN). The audio from the call is digitized into small data packets (just like the data of a web page or a video on YouTube). Calls can be routed through a private IP network or over the public Internet. Internet phones look very much like traditional office handsets; they just use a different backend technology. In fact, you’ve likely seen or even used a VoIP handset without noticing it. However, because VoIP phones interface with the VoIP system software, they can provide features for your phone that are not available with typical office phones.
The Anatomy of a VoIP Phone
ShoreTel Sky supports most of Cisco’s current 7900 series IP phone models. Various VoIP handset models are designed to support different types of phone users. In order to select the best cloud phones for your organization, you may want to identify which employees will have low to medium phone usage and handle fewer than three calls simultaneously and those who will have medium to high phone usage. This will help make sure that you get the right VoIP handset for each role.
Your cloud phone has several key components. Although VoIP phone models vary, the illustration below shows the common features:
What is a Softkey?
A softkey is a button flexibly programmable to invoke any of a number of functions rather than being associated with a single fixed function. Softkeys correspond to the actions displayed on the tabs along the bottom of your phone display. Softkey functions change depending on the status of your VoIP phone. For example, options such as hold, transfer, and conference will only appear while you are on a call. ShoreTel Sky uses softkeys to deliver new features from our hosted PBX to clients without the need to replace the IP phone hardware.
What are the Advantages of a VoIP Phone?
The combination of IP-based call routing, digitized audio, intelligent IP-PBX software, and phone softkeys turns what would otherwise be a simple telephone into a powerful communications and productivity tool. The software provides a level of intelligence and functionality that we usually associate with smartphones. Furthermore, the programmability can be done remotely so you don’t necessarily need someone onsite to update or maintain the phones. It all can be managed from the cloud. This flexibility lets “your phone” move with you, even if you are not at your desk (or even your office). Simply login to any other VoIP phone connected to your network or the Internet and it’s as if you are at your desk using your normal deskphone. Furthermore, phones using IP telephony allow for better audio quality than traditional digital and analog phone systems.
Installing and Supporting your VoIP Phones
ShoreTel recommends you entrust the installation and configuration of your VoIP phones to us through our ExpertStart installation service or to your IT partner.
Basic hardware and configuration troubleshooting for your internet phones is included with the ShoreTel Sky solution. Most issues can be remotely resolved by our support team. Consult your vendor regarding warranty service and replacement.
VoIP Softphones Put a Phone in Your Computer
For users who do not want or require a traditional handset, ShoreTel Sky offers software called a “VoIP softphone,” it’s a virtual phone which runs on a PC. The ShoreTel Sky Softphone appears as an image of a phone, with a display panel and buttons with which you can interact. It is used with a headset connected to the sound card of the PC, or with a USB headset.
A VoIP softphone is an excellent choice for people who travel frequently or work from home, but who still want to be as connected as if they were in the office. It offers all of the features of a VoIP handset without the hardware.
ShoreTel Sky Mobility – Turn Your Smartphone into a VoIP Phone
With ShoreTel Sky Mobility, users enjoy enterprise VoIP deskphone features such as extension dialing, call transfer and conferencing on their smartphone. Calls made from ShoreTel Sky Mobility display your office phone number, not your personal cell phone number. The system even selects the best network, cellular or WiFi to provide the best possible call quality.Contact us today to learn more about selecting the best VoIP phone options for your organization.