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What is a softphone? (And why is my VoIP service provider suggesting I get one?)

If you’re considering switching to a VoIP solution for your business, you may have been advised to download a softphone for you and your team.

A softphone is software you use to make calls through the internet using a desktop/laptop; removing the need to purchase physical handsets (or hardware).

There are many versions of softphone available, and selecting the right one for your business will be determined by your agent requirements, budget and campaigns. (If you’re unsure, your VoIP service provider will be able to advise you).

What are the main features a softphone offers?

Softphones offer a range of features, over and above what a ‘standard’ or ‘traditional’ phone would. For example, there’s call forwarding, conferencing and transferring, as well as voicemail and text and instant messaging.

You’ll see all the usual features similar to a normal handset; making it an obvious option to use when looking to set up a VoIP service contract to manage your telecoms. You can use them on Windows, OS X and Linux platforms too.

Here’s an idea of what one looks like. (Note it shows the usual layout of a phone, complete with dialling pad, volume and ‘call’ mechanism).Softphone and Dialler

WebRTC browser phones

The latest versions of common browsers like Chrome, Firefox, Opera include SIP VoIP capabilities built in. This means any of these browsers is able to perform like a soft phone without any plugins being installed on the user’s PC. It also means that you could have a softphone built into your web site which can make a call when a button is pressed.

How to set up a softphone:

  • Firstly, you need to choose your softphone provider and download the software.
  • Purchase a headset with a microphone or an internal microphone and speakers. You don’t need to spend a lot of money, even the most basic hardware works perfectly.
  • Contact your VoIP service provider in order to connect the phone to the service. You’ll be expected to run through a few settings such as configuration and preferences.
    In this call, they’ll set up your extensions and talk you through set up. It’s a quick process: it only takes a few minutes to configure each softphone.
  • Start making calls.

Bear in mind there are both paid-for and free versions, so you’ll need to select the set-up that’s suitable for your team’s needs.

We recommend using Zoiper – it’s free, really simple to use and compatible with the majority of VoIP / telephony services. (Great if you’re new to VoIP and want to be up and running quickly).

How does it work?

The softphone will collect the voice data and send it to Hostcomm. We’ll then convert it into voice signals, sending them to the right exchange. The voice signal then follows the reverse pattern. (Here’s an infographic on how VoIP works: Thinking of moving to a VoIP phone system?)

Why use a softphone for your business?

It’s fair to say, that the main reason is that softphones are incredibly cost-effective. What’s more, the benefit they offer to mobile workforces are great too.

Want to learn more?

Interested in learning more about VoIP and hosted telephony? Sign up for a free 7 day trial with Hostcomm today.



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