What Does VoIP Actually Mean?

By Emma Lewis, bOnline

VoIP stands for Voice over Internet Protocol. Yes it sounds a bit techie, but that’s just its name – it’s actually fairly simple.

The thing is, landlines are due to be switched off permanently in the UK from next year. This means that more and more businesses (and households) are looking to the main alternative so they can carry on making and receiving phone calls – and that’s VoIP.

Here we go back to basics and break down some of the commonly asked questions about VoIP to help make things a little clearer.


What is VoIP?


VoIP is a technology that basically means you make and receive phone calls using the internet, rather than using traditional copper landlines or a mobile phone.

Without getting too technical, it converts voice signals into digital data, which is transmitted over the internet in ‘packets’. The sound therefore tends to be much clearer and more reliable, plus VoIP systems come with lots of extra features and benefits that we’ll look at now.


What Are The Benefits of VoIP?


VoIP comes with a whole host of extra benefits that you don’t get by just using a landline or mobile phone. For example:

  • You don’t need to pay for any extra landlines (in fact you’ve not been able to buy any new landlines in the UK since September 2023 anyway)
  • You can make or receive calls from any internet-connected device, including your smartphone or tablet. Which is great for flexible working on the go
  • You get some incredibly helpful business-friendly features. For example, bOnline’s VoIP features include video conferencing, call menus and call divert, hold music, voicemail, access to call analytics and much more
  • You can keep your existing number, or change it for a new one. You can even choose to have an area code even if you’re not actually located there. For example, an 0207 or 0208 London number, even if you’re nowhere near London
  • You tend to sign up for a fixed price package that includes calls – similar to the package you get with a mobile phone contract. This can really help keep track of your spending, with no nasty big phone bills
  • You can often add a fixed-price international calling package too which can save you serious money if you call abroad a lot. For example, currently BT charges up to £1.55 a minute to call the USA from a UK mobile. With bOnline, monthly all-you-can-eat international calls start from £6 a month
  • As sound is transmitted digitally, it’s likely to be much clearer and better quality


How Much Does VoIP Cost?


This depends on the provider you sign up with and what they’re charging. With bOnline, fixed price packages start from £7 a month. 

Quick tip: Compare contract lengths too. With bOnline, all their contracts are only 12 months long, whereas with many of the bigger providers you’ll be tied into 18 or even 24 month contracts instead. 

I Have A Landline Phone – Can I Just Use That?


Technically you still can, as the landline switch-off isn’t due to complete until December 2025. However, we strongly recommend taking action now to avoid a last-minute rush.

You also need time to do your homework. If you run a business, you may find other systems like your security or payment systems run off a landline and will therefore need upgrading too. Additionally, you need a chance to shop around and be clear on the kinds of things you want from your VoIP digital phone.

For example, what is your budget? What features will you need most? What kind of contract length do you feel comfortable with?

I Run A Small Business And Tend To Just Use My Mobile Phone. Do I Really Need VoIP?


Again, you might find your mobile is fine for now. But what if your business grows and you want to take on some employees? Then there are always signal black spots to worry about, and the chance you’ll miss an important customer call because you were busy or it’s out of hours.

A VoIP digital phone system can still work through your mobile, but it’s so much more flexible. It means you no longer have to worry about missing work calls, or being out of range – and you get a work/life balance back too!

I Hate Technology And Feel Worried About VoIP – What Should I Do?

Don’t worry. These days, VoIP technology has become very easy to use as it’s so intuitive. In fact, many VoIP providers allow you to sign up online in just a couple of minutes. With bOnline specifically, there’s no need for any engineer visits or technical knowledge at all – simply sign up and they do everything for you remotely. 

Are There Any VoIP Providers Out There That Offer A Free Trial?

Signing up for a free trial is a great way to test out all the VoIP features on offer, without the commitment. bOnline offers a free 7-day trial with no obligation, and they don’t ask for your credit card details either. It’s simply a case of signing up for your trial and getting instant access.

Don’t Risk Your Business Getting Left Behind


The landline switch-off is coming and can’t be avoided. VoIP is the very best alternative to landlines and mobiles when it comes to managing your business calls – it will very likely make your business more efficient, give it a whole new professional look and save you money too.

At TechRound we’ve been talking about this for a while and have put together some articles you might find useful: