The difference between UCaaS and VoIP

As companies advance from plain old telephones (PoTs) to using business voice communications over a data (IP) connection, the demand for flexible communication solutions increases. You may already be utilising VoIP and want to opt for the next generation of unified communications (UC) tools, but you are wondering about the difference between VoIP and UCaaS. 

What is the difference between VoIP and UCaaS?

Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), which may also be referred to as ‘IP Telephony’, ‘IP Phones’ or ‘Internet Phones’ was developed in the 1970s, and gained traction in the late 1990s and early 2000s as a tool for business voice calling.

Unified-Communications-as-a-Service (UCaaS) or Unified Cloud Communications entails the unification of business communication tools into a single, seamless platform including Cloud-based services. These services include VoIP, video conferencing, collaboration tools, file sharing, and instant messaging. UCaaS embraces the potential of the cloud, unlike standard unified communications which include on-premise components and legacy systems. 

Many organisations may have the need to unify their business communications in the cloud and will unlock the greatest benefits by picking UCaaS. However, some businesses may find that VoIP is sufficient for their needs. 

What is VoIP?

As one of the fastest-growing technologies of the past decade, VoIP technology converts voice data into a digital signal, allowing calls directly from a computer, a VoIP phone, or other data-driven devices. VoIP is thus an alternative to traditional phone services delivered by traditional cabling.

Also referred to as IP telephony, Internet telephony, broadband telephony, or broadband phone services, it is a phone service delivered over the Internet. VoIP is a low-risk and well-established way for organisations to save costs on business voice communications. 

Business-Class VoIP

Rather than using telephone cables installed by a telephone company, VoIP requires an on-site adaptor that connects to an Internet service provider. VoIP calls are made on-site through Internet-compatible handsets or softphones. Advanced features are either managed in-house (on-premises) or delivered as cloud-based phone services through an agreement with a hosted VoIP vendor. 

Enterprise-class VoIP providers offer call features such as call waiting, caller ID, call forwarding, three-way calling, voicemail, and call blocking. Most businesses that switch from traditional telephones to VoIP calls experience the benefits of simpler contact centre management, increased accessibility and flexibility, portability, higher scalability, better voice quality, and multitasking.

What is UCaaS?

UCaaS is considered as a cloud-focused solution for combining communication strategies and has numerous benefits in the modern business landscape. It delivers a combination of services including mobility, communication-enabled business processes, instant messaging, unified messaging, meetings, and telephony.

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UCaaS provides access to low-cost and flexible solutions on a single platform where team members can connect and share information. Unified Communications apps are hosted and delivered ‘as-a-service’ by a cloud communication tools vendor. User experience involves a consistent single user interface across devices, including sending and receiving messages in multiple forms (voice, text, instant message, email) through a single user app on multiple platforms such as a computer, tablet, or mobile device.

VoIP vs. UCaaS: Which is best for my Business?

Essentially, UCaaS is not an alternative to VoIP, because UCaaS services include VoIP calling, but organisations may consider either to only employ VoIP or fully implement UCaaS services. UCaaS will include IP telephony and can be an alternative to on-premises Unified Communications tools, a VoIP-only implementation, or a non-unified suite of business communication tools that include a mixture. 

VoIP may be the right choice for the organisation that is comparing the benefits of VoIP to traditional phone service options like publicly switched telephone networks. VoIP is a viable option for organisations that need simpler, cheaper phone calling. Benefits of VoIP include:

  • Cost saving on inter-office, long-distance and international calls, and by the bundling of data and phone service through the same vendor. 
  • Simpler line management and scalability in terms of instantly adding and removing phone lines.
  • Cost-effective, easier contact centre management
  • Accessibility to additional features such as automated call distribution, interactive voice recognition and remote lines management.
  • Mobility and convenience of mobile access to business calls and voicemails.
  • The potential to scale from VoIP to UCaaS with vendors that offer both options.
  • Simpler troubleshooting. 

Some businesses may find that UCaaS is the better solution to their needs because its benefits include:

  • Lower total cost of ownership (TCO) across cloud communications tools.
  • Integrated video conferencing, web conferencing, and screen sharing.
  • Simpler communication management across multiple sites or locations.
  • Business continuity and disaster management processes though broadcasting features via voice phones, instant messages, text, and email.
  • Increased productivity and data integration across apps, including Salesforce, Office 365, and social media platforms.
  • Improved customer experience though unified channels, including chat, email, and phones.
  • Mobility and support for a ‘bring-your-own-device’ (BYOD) culture with simple, secure employee communication apps.

Enhanced by the flexibility and power of cloud technology, UCaaS allows businesses the freedom to grow at their own pace to meet the demands of not only customers, but employees and stakeholders as well.

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