When it comes to connecting to a VoIP service provider for calls, you can actually do so via a variety of different means. In the most simple terms, the only requirement to using a VoIP service, is an active internet connection.
In this post, we'll explore some of the most commonly used methods, as well as their benefits and drawbacks.
A more "traditional" way of getting up and running with a VoIP provider is by using some dedicated hardware to connect to a "SIP account", which is in essence, a username and password that your provider will give you to connect to them and be able to make and receive calls.
VoIP hardware comes in a variety of forms, from the more well known desktop devices with a handset and curly cord, or a cordless device connected via a base station, to something a bit more custom such as a conference device with a set of speakers.
Generally, as long as the device can be connected to a SIP account, it'll work with the majority of providers, and hardware that might be purchased directly from the service provider can often be "provisioned", meaning everything is set up remotely for you and the hardware simply needs to be powered on and connected to the internet.
These types of devices are good for those familiar with using a dedicated phone and even if moving from an older analogue phone to a VoIP phone, the functionality will be generally the same.
Additional features such as dedicated buttons on the device for speed dials, line selection and voicemail access can also be taken advantage of.
The drawback with dedicated hardware is the up front cost for purchase, time taken for delivery and in the cases of some providers, additional monthly cost or a minimum term if the hardware is being provided on a rental basis.
An alternative method for connecting to a service provider is using software, either on a computer/laptop, or a mobile device. Often referred to as a "Softphone", your chosen software will in its most basic form give you a dialler for making and receiving calls with your existing hardware.
Some software can be more difficult to set up, especially if it's a third party that the service provider might not be familiar with, or have guidance for, but you'll find that there is a wide range of options out there.
Some software will be free and/or Open Source (Linphone being a good example that has software available on mobile and desktop devices), and other software might have a licence cost, or certain features only available in a paid version.
Cost can vary similarly to hardware (open source software aside), but generally, you'll be able to get your softphone setup immediately for use with your VoIP provider, removing time factors if you need to be making and receive calls very quickly.
Software can also be more convenient, especially for mobile users on either a laptop or a mobile device, as they can take calls from anywhere with an internet connection. If you're also using a softphone on the same computer as other tools (i.e. CRMs, email clients, etc) for your business, saving space on a desk.
Which should I choose?
Ultimately, the choice of which route to go down is up to you, and some users might even opt to have both options available if they want to switch between them.
Dial 9 is compatible with the majority of options and whilst we do provide hardware for sale, you can always bring along your own VoIP devices, just as long as you can access them to reconfigure them, i.e. if they haven't been locked by another provider.
Software is very much the same, and we have a number of ready-made guides for configuring popular options with our services.
We'd recommend having a look on our store at the various hardware that we provide:
And if you opt to use our recommended manufacturer Yealink, new phones can be automatically provisioned to our services, meaning zero setup is required. Otherwise, we do have a number of guides for manually configuring hardware.
And for software, you can read the following series of guides in our documentation:
Otherwise, if you need any assistance with configuration of hardware or software to your Dial 9 account, that isn't covered by our documentation, please don't hesitate to get in touch where we'll be happy to help.