Voice over Internet Protocol is technology that enables you to make phone calls, send emails, and conduct video conferencing over the internet rather than through traditional land lines.
For business users (whether at the office or at home) who need a multitude of phone lines on a conjoined network, the Primary Rate Interface (PRI) is a viable option. It's a type of VoIP that provides up to 23 separate Internet-based lines and a data channel. As with any emerging technology on the market, there are pros and cons.
User and pocketbook-friendly. Implementing a PRI as part of your VoIP connection will be an easy and cost-effective endeavor as this system works well with existing technologies and can easily convert established land lines into an Internet-based system.
Freedom to fly (or lounge by the pool). If you have access to the Internet, then you can call, email, video conference with, or send a voice mail to anyone's email or phone. It doesn't matter if they are across the ocean or in the building next door, as long as your internet signal is strong, you don't have to hassle with remembering area codes, worry about long-distance charges if you chat for an hour, or wonder if you are going to be disconnected if a cloud drifts by. Your one assigned "local" phone number will allow you to call anyone, anywhere.
An Impressive Menu of Choices. VoIP comes as part of several different packages depending on your particular needs. Some options include: 3-way calling, caller ID, voicemail, automatic call forwarding, auto-redial, online faxing, automatic emailing of voicemails to your designated email account, a "virtual" receptionist greeting callers and directing them to the appropriate company rep, and even customized greetings for specific times of the year or after regular business hours.
A Streamlined System. VoIP can be easily integrated with instant messaging, file sharing software, video conferencing, or any other internet-based communication. Multiple applications and devices can be integrated, layered, or streamlined to meet most every user's needs at the corporate or home office.
No electricity, no VoIP. Perhaps the biggest (yet certainly not insurmountable) caveat to the VoIP is that you must have electricity and internet service to use it. So, during a storm when there is a power outage, your VoIP system is out, too (since routers, adapters, computers, and other VoIP devices need electricity to function).
Traffic Jams. If there is high internet traffic when you are trying to place a VoIP-to-VoIP call, you may experience some degradation in the quality of your call and/or your service may be interrupted completely.
911 Services Are Not Guaranteed. With the basic VoIP package, emergency services are not a for-sure thing. If VoIP is your only form of communication with the outside world, you may want to consider an additional device to enable you to contact help if needed, though a cellphone is an easy alternative.
Countless applications and functions, combined with being cost-effective and user-friendly, make the VoIP (especially with the PRI) a viable option for your 21st century communication needs.