VoIP 101

Hello and welcome! The purpose of this blog is to explain what VoIP is and to compare some of its advantages against traditional phone providers. It was written for laymen looking for a quick brush-up on their knowledge. Without further ado, let’s dive in.

Kontak logomark with blue background


Introduction – What is VoIP

In a nutshell: Voice over Internet Protocol, or VoIP, is a technology that allows you to make and receive phone calls over the Internet.

It works by converting your voice into a large number of digital signals transmitted over the internet to the person you are calling at a very high speed. Those digital signals are then converted back into sound on the other end, allowing you to have a conversation just like you would on a regular phone call.

This technology has been around for decades but has become increasingly popular in recent years as more and more people are working remotely and relying on digital communication. With this technology comes a very high degree of flexibility, making it very user-friendly and adaptable to specific business needs.

How did it all come about – a brief history

VoIP would not exist today if it weren’t for three major inventions: the telephone, the Internet, and perhaps, most crucially, Internet Protocol (IP). VoIP technology has roots in the 70s when the first IP networks were being developed — originally by the Advanced Research Projects Agency Network (ARPANET). This was a rudimentary computer network founded by the US Department of Defence. It was used primarily to provide communications among the Department and the US Military. However, it wasn’t until the 90s that VoIP technology became widely available to the public.

In 1995, VocalTec — a company founded by Israeli entrepreneurs — pioneered the first commercial internet phone. This software allowed users to make phone calls over the internet using their computers and using the VocalTec software.

Ever since, the VoIP technology has continued to evolve — in the 2000s, VoIP services became more available and accessible to the general public. Today, VoIP is the most popular alternative to traditional phone lines, especially for business use.

Types of VoIP Services Comparison

Internet phone service:

This type of VoIP service allows users to make phone calls using their internet connection and a VoIP app or adapter.

  • Virtual phone system: A virtual phone system is a cloud-based phone service that provides users with a virtual phone number and allows them to make and receive calls from anywhere.
  • Unified communications: Unified communications (UC) is a type of VoIP service that combines various communication methods (such as voice, video, and instant messaging) into a single platform. (This is us, Yaaay!) ☺
closeup of keyboard sitting on office desk

Pros & Cons

There are multiple benefits to switching to VoIP, including:

  • Cost savings: This is a big one! VoIP is, on the whole, much cheaper than traditional phone providers (some locations report up to 60% in savings after making the switch)
  • Flexibility: Another big one. VoIP allows users to make and receive calls from anywhere as long as there’s an internet connection, making it an ideal solution for businesses with remote employees or clients.
  • Simplicity: The cost of initial deployment in terms of both money and time is a big advantage — it doesn’t require any new line installations, and if you already happen to have hardware (phones) that is built for VoiP protocols, it can be as easy as “plug in and go.” If you don’t, however, you will incur an initial cost of new phone devices. Think of them as an investment, as they will more than pay for themselves in a very short amount of time, given the overall savings that come along with switching to a VoIP system.
  • Remote Capabilities: Being that the whole data transfer occurs over the internet, you have many remote options available. Imagine being on the road, making a house call, or working remotely — you can have a “carbon copy” of your work extension on your mobile device, allowing you to answer work-related phone calls wherever you are.
  • Advanced features: Many VoIP providers offer advanced features such as call forwarding, voicemail, phone trees, and virtual meetings, which can be useful for businesses. Kontak, for example, has specialized their product for the Veterinary industry — meaning all current features and development of new ones take a veterinary perspective as a starting point.

However, as with everything, there is one potential drawback to consider:

VoIP fully relies on the internet connection to function properly. If the internet connection is lost, calls cannot be made or received, and if the internet connection is weak, it will reflect on the quality of your service. In other words, your VoIP is only as good as your internet connection is. This is an important thing to keep in mind, and if you are aware that your internet reception is problematic, this may not be the ideal solution for you. However, given how good internet connectivity is today, in our experience, this is rarely an issue.

product image of three Yealink phones

How to Get Started with VoIP

Getting started with VoIP is easy. Here is how it usually works:

  1. Choose a VoIP provider: Research different providers and compare their features and pricing to find the best fit for your needs. (If you happen to be in the veterinary industry, we hope that by now it’s a no brainer ☺)
  2. Set up your account: Follow the provider’s instructions to set up your account and configure your device(s). (If you are in the vet industry and wish to make the switch to Kontak, we will do this for you from start to finish.)
  3. Test your connection: Make a few test calls to ensure that your VoIP system is working properly.
  4. Start using VoIP!

We did also mention some advanced features, right? Let’s dive into those, as Kontak is more than just a VoIP company.

Advanced features

First off, we specialize in veterinary hospitals’ operations — or simply put, we are fluent in vet ☺. We understand your workflows because that’s all we do.

Next, we customize every build for every practice. Choose your phones and build your system from the ground up — no generic non-veterinary templates, and no limitations to the number of messages, call trees, ring groups, etc. Whatever your use case may be, we are confident we can accommodate.

Now, let’s talk some real business. Here are two words you’ll love: Kontak Retriever.

Kontak Retriever product photo

What is Kontak Retriever?

Kontak Retriever is the most comprehensive PIMS-integrated phone system on the market. So, what does that mean? Retriever connects our phone system to your practice management software to automatically extract important client and pet information.

Once the call comes in, no more wondering who it is and who their pets are. You already know. You’ll also know the pet’s gender, species and spay or neuter status, last and next appointment, the outstanding balance on the account, and many more data points of your choosing.

The data sync is in real time, so you always have the most current data before you even pick up the phone. Integrated SMS lets you send and receive messages to and from any of your numbers, including the main number. Your pet parents will never be confused or have to make a choice of which channel to use.

Your practice management system’s scheduling calendar is also visible in Retriever, allowing your team to have efficient conversations. You can also improve your team’s performance by showing the scorecard of the impact of handling each call’s opportunities. Armed with all this info upfront, imagine how drastically you can reduce the duration of every call.

Also, Kontak always has your back — our customer service team is available 24/7. There are no hidden fees for additional support or modifications made to the system once you go live.

Sounds good?

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