What is a SoftPhone?

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Using your Computer as a SoftphoneA softphone is a software program for making telephone calls over the internet using your computer, rather than dedicated hardware and phone lines. A softphone functions as a telephone by using voice over IP (VoIP) technology, and your computer network.

Using a headset or a hand-held device, and the numbers on the keyboard to dial, a computer with soft phone software will perform the full range of telephone features available through traditional systems, including teleconferencing and call forwarding. Softphones characteristically make use of the computer’s sound card for audio input and output.

A benefit of using a softphone is that you now have the ability to place a video call instead of a traditional voice-only call. The video call option allows you to see the person with whom you are speaking. This is beneficial for more personal calls in which you want to be able to interact visually with the person you are speaking with. You can also use the video option to show your customers physical items. If you already have a computer, webcam and a microphone, no other purchases are necessary.

Unlike a cell phone, you do not need to enter into a long- term contract to use a softphone. Placing calls is also less expensive compared to using a cell phone or land line. If you wish to place numerous long distance calls and find yourself sitting by either your desktop or laptop computer for the majority of the day, a softphone can save you a lot of money.

Four categories of workers are most likely to end up with softphone’s:

  • telecommuters
  • mobile users making calls through their laptops
  • sales reps
  • small and mid-sized business owners

Telecommuters who split their work time between home and the office will use Softphones to let them access corporate phone features when they’re working from home. Mobile users making calls through their laptops, will saving money and many of the inconveniences of being on the road, letting them access corporate telephone options while away from the office.

By providing sales reps with softphones, companies may be able to save money by not buying them desk phones or cell phones at all. As for the small and mid-sized business owners that need to save money, buying IP desk phones for employees can be a major expense, so such companies can cut costs by using softphones for those employees who sit in front of a computer anyway.

But softphones are not ideal for every person in every situation. Whether you get a softphone will depend a lot on the type of work you do and your office location.

The biggest disadvantage of softphones is that they depend on a PC. Many workers have trouble acclimating to headsets as well, preferring the feel of a handset when they’re talking. Some businesses and employees also continue to worry about the quality and security of IP telephones.

Many of these drawbacks are disappearing as VoIP services mature. Be sure that you have the requirements necessary for the service. Many of the software companies are very specific about where their hardware is placed in relation to the router.

The softphone is most popular in business applications, where it is well suited for users who want the ability to carry their office phone along with them. Softphone technology provides users with all of their business phone systems features and directories – but on a laptop for example. It also works great for those who frequently use the computer and phone simultaneously and who may be required to travel regularly. Softphone technology also allows more employees to work from home, offering a potential economic savings to businesses via telecommuting.

RingCentral‘s call controller with softphone allows you to integrate all of your business phone system functions into your computer. With their softphone ability you can integrate all calls to and from your business phone, into your computer. This allows you to easily route calls to any phone number, record or screen calls, and answer a call with the simple click of a mouse. Softphone basically simplifies many of your business phone system functions. For instance you can facilitate conference calls and check voicemail messages or faxes directly from your computer.

Another equally good option is Phone.com. Their virtual office will merge far-flung locations and employees on the go with one main toll free or local phone number. Phone.com also enables customers to record professional greetings, forward calls to whomever or wherever necessary, give different departments their own extension, and hold conference calls with up to 99 individuals. It’s like having a personal assistant for each and every employee. Phone.com’s Communicator program(Softphone) is the next generation of software that is going to allow users to manage communication easier and more effectively all from your desk top, In order to use the Communication software you must have a Virtual Office plan with the communication extension set up. Additional fees may apply, but it is well worth it in order to take your office on the road.

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Christina Sterling

Editor at VirtualPhoneSystemReviews
Christina is the chief editor at VirtualPhoneSystemReviews.com. In her spare time she is also a web developer and a small business owner. She loves camping, traveling, and all things VoIP related.

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