SIP Trunking for Dummies: What You Need to Know About VoIP Softphones

What the heck is a “softphone”? A VoIP softphone (or soft phone) is a piece of software that is installed on your computer so that you can make and receive telephone calls on your workstation, computer, laptop or tablet device. A USB or wireless headset is typically used in place of the physical handset. Softphones can only work on systems and services that support the universal standard of SIP (session initiated protocol). 

Here are some of the benefits of a VoIP softphone:

  • Ergonomic Advantages: Users no longer have to radle the phone handset between their shoulder and ear when typing and talking. Countless people have suffered workplace injuries by contorting their body work on the computer while talking on the telephone. I know only too well, I’m one of them.
  • Freedom of Movement: A normal desk phone tethers the individual to their desk. A softphone allows the user to move around their office and frees up both hands for handling paperwork, retrieving information, and other multi-tasking activities.
  • Lower Cost: A business telephone costs between $100 and $750. Soft phone costs range from free to a high end of $50. While the cost of a headset must be factored into the equation, the overall cost compares very favorably to the desk phone. On an ongoing basis the cost for softphones is equally low as softphones don’t break.
  • High Quality Phone Calls: Most softphones comply with the wideband standard, which means that you’ll experience better sounding telephone calls than on your old desk phone.
  • Dialing From Your Computer: Many softphones can dial numbers from Outlook or other applications. This ability to click-and-dial is a time saver, especially for those people who make high volumes of outbound calls.
  • Instant Messaging: There are softphones on the market that have built-in chat capabilities. It’s nice to have your phone and chat converged into one interface.
  • Video: Video conferencing is a feature that is supported on some softphones. A call can start as a simple phone call but then be “upgraded” to a video call at the push of a button. It’s pretty cool that you can configure desktop video conferencing for so little money.

So, the softphone is a wonderful thing. However there are a few considerations before you jump to this new technology:

  • Setup: It typically takes some time to configure your computer to support a softphone
  • Headset: Make sure you have a high quality headset. Also, don’t wander too far away from your desk or you’ll drop your caller.
  • Don’t Turn Your Computer Off: You can’t turn your computer off during that last phone call of the day nor do you want to re-boot your machine while on an important conference call!
  • SIP Required: Softphones work on the SIP standard, meaning that your PBX must support SIP telephones. In the past, this was a big challenge but companies are rapidly moving to SIP PBXes since SIP now is the universal standard for voice communications going forward.

Our Softphone Recommendation

TeleDynamic’s preferred softphone provider is Counterpath. They’ve been in the business for several years and they have a wide range of products that will work on Windows, Apple, tablets and more. Specifically, I recommend the Bria at a retail cost of $50.

We offer business-class communication solutions with responsive local support

To learn more, call us today at (510) 785-2480