Businesses designing their telecommunications systems often find themselves considering multiple technologies. A common telecommunications decision they may encounter is to decide whether to use Softphones or VoIP hard phones. Both Softphones and VoIP hard phones allow businesses to create and receive calls via the internet. Companies that choose to switch to VoIP communication receive benefits such as:
- Simplicity – A single internet connection to support multiple phone calls.
- Portability – Users may take their phone number anywhere and use it as long as they have an internet connection.
- Features – VoIP allows users to engage in video conferencing, file sharing, SMS texting, etc.
There are many more benefits in using VoIP technology. To take advantage of these benefits, business managers must choose the right telecommunications equipment for their staff.
This article will examine Softphones and VoIP hard phones, discuss and compare each technology and describe how to record calls on both devices.
What are VoIP Hard Phones?
A VoIP hard phone looks and behaves like a standard analog telephone. These devices connect and rely on the internet to make and receive calls as opposed to a traditional Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN). The equipment is stationary meaning they are not intended to be picked up and moved often. The basic features are a handheld receiver and microphone with a base that contains a dial pad.
There are several types of VoIP hard phones such as:
- Desktop VoIP Phone – looks and behaves like a standard telephone. May have an LCD screen with several features.
- Cordless phone – combines the functionality of a desktop VoIP phone with a wireless handset to provide the user mobility.
- Conference phone – ideal for multi-party conference calls.
- USB phone – is plugged into a device using a USB interface. These devices may be paired with a soft phone.
VoIP hard phones may vary in operational features such as:
- Digital touch screens
- Browsable directory menus with internal extensions
- Full color displays
- Bluetooth and/or Wi-Fi compatibility
- Call forwarding
- Do Not Disturb setting
- Cameras and digital screens for video conferencing
Adoption of VoIP hard phones by many businesses is simple because these devices are so similar to standard analog telephones. Businesses may choose VoIP hard phones initially for the traditional design and enjoy the additional benefits of this technology.
What are Softphones?
A softphone is a software application installed on a device that enables users to communicate via the internet. The device could be a tablet, smart phone, laptop, desktop computer or any hardware that can support the software application and connect to the internet. A microphone and speaker are minimally required and there may be optional features such as a camera or any other peripheral device. The software application typically features a dial pad interface to allow the user to operate in the same manner as a telephone. There may also be other features for the user to enjoy on the softphone software application.
What are Softphone features?
Businesses often seek additional features built into softphones beyond the standard telephone capabilities. As more businesses have adopted the usage of softphones, the integrated features have expanded to facilitate business communications and processes. Beyond the standard features of making and receiving calls, softphones may have the following functions:
- Customer Relations Management (CRM) integration to allow call center operators to see customer information and history before answering a call.
- SMS texting
- Customized greetings, IVR trees, hold music, etc.
- Contact management
- Speed dialing
- Call logger
- Call forwarding
- Caller ID
- Warm, blind and voicemail transfers
- Conference calling
There are many more integrated features a soft phone may have. The only limitation is what has not been programmed into the software application.
Softphones vs. VoIP Hard Phones
Softphones and VoIP hard phones are both telecommunications devices, however; they’re both very different technologies. Both have amazing features and have lower costs than traditional telephone services. The differences in the technologies are highlighted in the table below.
|Feature||Softphone||VoIP Hard Phone|
|Portability||Allow the user to make and receive calls anywhere the device can connect to an internet connection.||Designed to be kept at a stationary desk or location.|
|Optional Applications, eg – SMS texting, video calling, etc.||Softphones are software based. This means the limitation is what has been developed within the application. Additional features require software updates.||Features may be limited by the capabilities of the device. For additional features, the device may be upgraded.|
|Call Quality||Depends upon the device where the software is installed. Call quality may decline as the device is running additional applications in the background.||These devices are dedicated to making and receiving calls. Unless additional applications have been added to their proprietary system, the call quality should remain high and only limited to the internet connection quality.|
|User Interface||Software application is installed into a device. The user typically interacts with a Graphical User Interface.||Typically, similar to a standard analog phone. There are more advanced models which feature additional functionality.|
|Reliability||Service relies on both the internet connection and a functioning device. If the device crashes, call functionality is lost.||Service relies on internet connection. The device is not typically used for other functions so making and receiving calls is highly reliable.|
Although there are many differences between the technologies, it is best for companies to use both devices together within the organization and take advantage of all features. It may be necessary for an employee to use a VoIP hard phone instead of a Softphone, or vice versa, depending upon the situation. For example, many offices or organizations prefer a VoIP hard phone as a standard appearance or prefer the comfort of the equipment.
How do you record calls on Softphones and VoIP hard phones?
There are several methods to record calls on a soft phone. The top two methods are onsite and remote.
How to record calls onsite.
Versadial has a call recording solution for VoIP technology. VoIP supports two-way transmission of conversations by converting analog voice into digital data. The solution requires a server that sits in the telecom or server room within the business. This device runs the call recording software and stores the recorded calls. The server uses the Network Interface Card (NIC) as opposed to a physical recording board.
Both the VoIP hard phones and Softphones are connected to a switch. On the switch, there is a Switched Port Analyzer or a SPAN port that can be setup to mirror all ports on the switch. The IT manager can configure the switch to send all voice data to the SPAN port. The call recording server is directly connected to the SPAN port with and ethernet cable that plugs into the switch and NIC on the server. This allows all of the voice data to be sent to the call recording server.
How to record calls remotely.
The second common method is remote call recording, scenario 15. This configuration routes the calls from the remote softphones to a central call recorder location. Softphones connect to the internet to make and receive calls. The calls route to a main site and the call recorder connects via a mirror port on a switch. For more details about recording remote calls, please see How To: Record calls from remote site or remote workers.
Versadial offers multiple solutions to meet your call recording needs. Contact us today to have a dedicated sales account manager assist you in finding the right solution for your business’ needs.
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Last Updated on August 29, 2022