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Analogue Phones and Systems - Digital Phones and Systems - VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) Systems

Telephony gives immediate voice, fax and other data communication with the outside world. You and your organisation will have specific requirements (e.g. basic one-on-one landlines), want certain capabilities (a certain amount of bandwidth or number of lines) and need desired features (e.g. forwarding, caller IDs, recording, conference calling, call management), which are all determined by the telephony system – analogue, digital or VoIP.


Analogue Phones and Analogue Phone Systems

Traditional analogue phone signals come through single copper cables that run from a switchboard (which switches between different addresses or phone numbers) to your building. This line (aka POTS – Plain Old Telephone Service) therefore physically connects your phone system’s private branch exchange (PBX) to the phone company. Although analogue cables usually offer a single phone line, splicing them together creates several lines – but these all share the same phone number. Traditional analogue phone systems have their limitations, including a maximum of 8 lines, no more than 24 extensions and a bandwidth of 56k in total, which is why they suit voice calls only, though this can be extended with an ADSL filter. Occasionally experiencing security issues, fluctuating performance (because of bad weather and extreme temperatures), interference and noise intrusion, analogue lines are not without their faults. However, they do cater for basic needs/provide standard features, have relatively cheap installations and rentals, can give you multiple, independent phone lines (increasing costs), run broadband (with ADSL filters) and suit certain set-up restrictions. They could therefore be all your organisation can handle and in fact needs.


Digital Phones and Digital Phone Systems

Digital transmission technology uses digital signals and their binary codes (sequences of 1s and 0s) to transfer data to your device (e.g. phone) for conversion into the original signal. Rather than the transmission occurring solely through traditional, single copper cables as they do in analogue systems, digital systems also use Integrated Services for Digital Networks (ISDNs) and give a maximum 128 kbps.

Digital technology allows a great concentration of binary codes within the same space that analogue alternatives use, resulting in fewer faults, higher reliability and quality (reception and transmission), improved voice clarity, less interference/external noise, added security and a greater capacity. As digital PBXs are designed with a proprietary bus structure, digital systems allow added features (e.g. extensions, virtual auto attendants, music when on hold, transfers), so they give you greater flexibility. Digital installations and equipment (e.g. the required interface for voice conversion) usually cost more than analogue systems but they are always evolving and even provide the basis for other systems such as VoIP.


VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) Systems

For VoIP telephony, your business IP PBX hosts virtual phone lines that connect (via the internet) to your VoIP provider’s network of VoIP servers; these servers connect to the PSTN (public switched telephone network), allowing the IP-based telephony process.

IP-based telephony involves a virtual pathway that transmits mainly voice data (telephone conversations) over the internet and other networks (e.g. an organisation’s intranet). It does so by converting analogue voice data into digital data, sending this data over the internet and reconverting the data to analogue. Unlike traditional circuit-switched telephony (POTS), which establishes circuits between callers, VoIP involves packet-switched telephony whereby separate individual network packets transmit encoded (for security) and compressed (for efficiency) data, particularly voice data..

Some benefits of VoIP telephony:

  • significantly lowers costs or even free calls (including international ones)
  • greater communications flexibility; for example:
    • numerous simultaneous calls (have more than one conversation at once/over the same period)
    • multiple people in calls (rather than just the 2 in traditional telephony – suitable for conferencing)
    • various contact paths and interconnections easily established (office, home and remote workers, staff on business trips)
  • highest-quality calls usually provided (though there may be fluctuations – see disadvantages)
  • exceptionally smooth data transition
  • basic phone system functionality included
  • easy telephone contact with non-VoIP telephone lines
  • easy scalability: add extensions for additional staff or requirements
  • practical preparation for future IP-based telephony developments (e.g. cloud-based telephony)

The main disadvantages of VoIP lines are less reliability and greater variability: they rely on your internet connection, bandwidth and your VoIP service provider. That said, using them means you will be getting even more from your cabling infrastructure.


You can see that getting the right telephony installation for you, your usage and your setting involves careful integration of various factors. Fibrelight Communication Networks considers all these and provides whatever your large or small organisation requires – new system installations, system replacements, maintenance, upgrades (e.g. for greater capacity and more features), expansions and relocations – so contact us now to discuss the bespoke telephony service you require.


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