VoIP vs Unified Communications: What’s the Difference?

VoIP Telecommunications Telephone Communications

If you’re shopping for a new business phone system, you’ll likely come across the terms VoIP and unified communications. These terms are often used interchangeably, and they do go hand-in-hand. However, they don’t necessarily mean the same thing. Here’s what you need to know about VoIP versus unified communications.

What is VoIP?

VoIP stands for Voice over Internet Protocol. A phone using VoIP routes calls over the Internet rather than over traditional telephone lines and networks. For example, in your office, you likely have traditional telephone jacks and wiring. These are ultimately connected to your local phone utility. When you make or receive a phone call using regular telephone service, your calls are routed over the phone company’s network just as they have for decades.

In contrast, if your office moves to VoIP, you will no longer need those traditional phone jacks and wires. Instead, your VoIP phone system will be patched into your computer network. Your calls will move through your network’s cabling within the office and then sent over the Internet just like your other data such as email messages.

What is Unified Communications?

While making phone calls over the Internet has its benefits such as reduced telecommunications costs and robust calling features, many organizations find VoIP is not quite enough. Unified communications adds a number of real-time calling features to the equation. For example, a unified communications system might include: instant messaging, phone texting, integrated voicemail, faxing, and video conferencing. When these additional calling features and services are added to VoIP, whether just a few or all of the above, your phone vendor may call your system a unified communications system.

According to AskIdeaCom.com, “VoIP brings together voice and data services into one secure network foundation.” That essentially means that your voice calls and computer data use the same network. They are no longer separate systems. ShoreTel puts it another way, “VoIP can be part of Unified Communications, but not the other way around.”

Sources:
Unified Communications Industry News
VoIP vs. Unified Communications Explained
Digital and IP Communications Solutions from AskIdeacom

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