VoIP and landline are the two most popular business phone solutions today—but that will soon change. With the public switched telephone network (PSTN) soon to be switched off by 2025, the traditional landline will gradually be eliminated.
The reason for this is simple. VoIP technology is superior to the rigid technology of the traditional landline.
VoIP is more flexible, scalable, and cost-effective. Most importantly, it provides advanced features that modern businesses rely on. And with the high deployment cost of 5G resolved with wireless power technology, VoIP is set to reach new global capabilities soon.
Before we get into the tech differences between VoIP and landline, let’s clarify what we mean by a VoIP phone system and a landline phone system.
What Is a VoIP Phone System?
VoIP (voice over internet protocol) refers to the standards that dictate the transmission of voice over an internet connection. A VoIP phone system facilitates this transmission, permitting you to make voice and video calls (as well as share files and send messages) via the internet.
Here’s how it works: On a call, your voice is converted into a digital signal when speaking. This digital signal is compressed into multiple data packets and encoded by a compression technology called a codec. The compressed data packets move across the internet via a router. Once they reach the recipient’s device, codecs quickly decompress and decode the packets.
Your voice is then converted back into an audio signal that your recipient can hear perfectly on their end of the call. And as you’ll know from your phone calling experiences, all of this takes place almost instantly.
What Is a Landline Phone System
Landline phone system technology has seen little change since its creation over a hundred years ago.
When you make a call on a landline, your voice converts into electrical signals that travel through underground copper wires. The call connects via the phone service provider. As we embrace digital communications, the race is on for businesses to modernize legacy applications or risk being behind. For many, this means embracing VoIP phone solutions.
5 Tech Differences Between VoIP and Landlines
So, what are the primary tech differences between VoIP and landline, and how do they affect business communications?
1. Call Handling and Management Features
The call handling and management features available on traditional landlines are critically limited compared to VoIP. Traditional landlines were designed with the basics in mind. You can make and receive phone calls, leave a voicemail, and perform simple call holding and forwarding tasks.
Operating a call center or virtual contact center isn’t enough.
VoIP solutions come equipped with all of the call handling and management features you need and then some. For example, auto-attendants and interactive voice response (IVR) systems make intelligent call routing decisions. You can configure your phone system to route calls based on agent idleness, agent skill, time of day, and much more.
IVR systems are a powerful modern technology tool that facilitates automated customer interactions. Customers can interact with the IVR system through the IVR menu, which is the response system that presents customers with a list of options (e.g. “press 1 for sales, press 2 for customer services”).
Dual-tone multi-frequency (DTMF) technology allows customers to use their touch-tone keypad to navigate the IVR menu. Modern IVR systems also use voice recognition technology, enabling callers to interact with the menu through their voice.
Another tech feature that comes readily available with VoIP is call recording and phone call transcription. Not only can you record calls for later evaluation or record-keeping, but you can also access transcripts of the call for ultimate easy access and clarity.
We could go on and on here but you get the point - VoIP comes with a bunch of features that are essential for modern business.
2. Call Quality and Reliability
Traditional landline phone systems run calls through underground copper wires. This makes landline call quality more reliable than VoIP, which relies on the strength of your internet connection.
VoIP’s reliance on internet speed is the most notable tech difference that presents a drawback to VoIP. The raw audio must be digitized, compressed into multiple data packets, transmitted to the recipient’s device (with stops along the way), and then converted back into an audio message.
All in a matter of milliseconds.
As you can imagine, poor internet speeds present problems. You’re going to fall prey to one-way audio, latency, jitter, and other issues that make for an unpleasant call experience.
However, as internet providers continuously work hard to improve broadband speeds, we’re seeing the reliability gap close rapidly. High-speed internet makes your call reliability as good as a traditional landline.
When it comes to calling quality, though, VoIP blows landlines out of the park. Landlines use narrowband technology, meaning they can only support sound frequencies between 300 Hz to 3,400 Hz. VoIP, however, uses wideband technology that can support frequencies between 30 Hz to 7,000 Hz.
Wideband technologies enable higher-quality calling experiences. Callers get better speech intelligibility, clarity, and responsiveness, making conversations feel more natural.
3. Collaboration Features
Collaboration tools have become a fundamental part of our everyday work experience. Gartner's research reports that 79% of people use social collaboration tools for work. Furthermore, the report predicts that by 2024, only 25% of enterprise meetings will be in person as we continue to embrace remote and hybrid working.
These figures tell us that the modern workplace needs collaboration tools. And while collaboration technologies are completely nonexistent on traditional landline phone systems, VoIP provides a wide range of collaboration options.
Many VoIP phone solutions are regarded as unified communications solutions. Unified communications as a service (UCaaS) providers supply more than just a phone system. They also provide video conferencing, instant messaging, content sharing, and more—within one unified, streamlined interface.
Video conferencing technology boasts some particularly valuable features. Unlike landlines, which generally only support three-way calling, VoIP technology can permit limitless conferencing attendees. It also supports screen-sharing, live transcriptions, scheduling, and more.
Collaboration technologies enhance productivity by allowing remote users to engage effectively with their team regardless of their location. Even for those in the office, collaboration tools provide teams with a centralized location for all their communication needs.
And when it comes to external communications, collaboration tools make it easier for you to communicate, negotiate, and close deals with clients. It can enrich affiliate marketing ideas and capabilities because you can have productive, face-to-face conversations with brand partners.
4. Advanced Features
Innovative integrations are masterfully enhancing workflows in all business areas. Look at the PySpark sample, a collaboration of Apache Spark and Python that enables you to write Spark applications using Python APIs.
While landlines provide features like caller ID and anonymous caller rejection, they’re simply not sophisticated enough to handle the demands of modern communications. VoIP, on the other hand, provides advanced features such as:
- call analytics
- native integrations
- visual voicemail
- find me/follow me
- business text messaging and so much more.
VoIP facilitates maximum integrability with your essential business tools and apps. From your CRM system to your productivity apps and document electronic signature software, you can perform all the integrations you need to streamline workflows and boost workplace productivity.
5. Flexibility and Mobility
The inherent restrictiveness of traditional landlines is a huge reason for its phase-out. Its reliance on the PSTN means that it's unsuitable for international calling and on-the-go communications.
VoIP is renowned for its device flexibility and so-far unmatched mobility. As long as you have an internet connection, you can communicate from any location, at any time, on the device of your choice. It includes smartphones, laptops, tablets, PCs, and VoIP desk phones.
Some VoIP features enhance flexibility even further. Find me/follow me, for example, lets customers reach you on different devices or numbers depending on your location. Call flipping enables you to switch devices seamlessly during a call. This means you never have to miss or disrupt an important call again!
VoIP also facilitates business-wide flexibility and scalability. If you decide to expand your business to a new location, there’s no need to buy any expensive equipment. Once again, as long as you have a stable internet connection at your new location, business can continue with little-to-no downtime.
Employees can even turn their personal cell phones or laptops into full-powered business communication systems with the download of an app.
In contrast, landlines offer minimal flexibility. You are chained to your desk on a wired phone (or confined to a small radius on a cordless phone) and limited to your landline device. And when it comes to expansion, you are looking at hefty costs and major downtimes while you perform installations. You might also be unable to use the same phone company if you stray outside their service area.
The Bottom Line
Fundamentally, it doesn’t matter whether you’re running an enterprise contact center, a small business call center for ecommerce, or a modest local restaurant. VoIP is the solution you need to help you achieve your communication and collaboration goals.
By exploring the tech differences between VoIP and landline, we can identify that VoIP solutions provide teams with more flexible and productive collaboration experiences. They also enable businesses to monitor and manage their contact center in a way that facilitates remote working, streamlines workflows, and enriches collaborations.