At this point, we’re all familiar with the popularity and benefits of VoIP service. Yet, despite these attributes spawning an industry boom, there are some users that are still unwilling to leave their traditional landline service behind. While users retain skepticism, there are a number of tools available that enable users to keep their traditional lines while also embracing VoIP service. Amongst these tools are VoIP Gateways.

Simply put, VoIP Gateways are devices that convert telephony traffic into packets of data, which are can be transmitted over the Internet. In doing so, Gateways can function to either convert incoming traditional telephone line calls to VoIP (or SIP) or connect a traditional phone system to an IP network. In doing this, these devices are able to fit traditional phone lines and systems with VoIP features; therefore, users can keep their lines AND utilize VoIP service. VoIP Gateways meet users’ needs and allow for a compromise between two services; however, with an increasing number of options available, choosing a Gateway and subsequently switching over to VoIP can still seem daunting.

Despite these anxieties, selecting the right VoIP Gateway isn’t as tricky as you’d think. As with anything, it’s important to know what functionality you’re going to require. As stated above, gateways have more than one primary use; therefore, users should define their intended use before selecting a Gateway. Additionally, there are different types of gateways available, which support different functionalities. Analog VoIP Gateways connect legacy telephones (and fax machines if applicable) to users’ VoIP systems, or VoIP phone systems to the PSTN. Inversely, digital gateways allow users to connect a VoIP phone system to digital lines or to connect a traditional PBX system to an IP network. While both solutions allow for VoIP to be blended with traditional service, Analog gateways typically have a broader application.

Analog VoIP gateways bridge an IP network to your PSTN (public switched telephone network). In doing so, the PSTN trunks are connected to one interface along with the gateway. From this connection point, the gateway is able to direct calls to the PSTN. Additionally, Gateways can typically connect to more than VoIP device/service; therefore, PSTN resources can be shared between the multiple services/systems. In employing a VoIP Gateway, however, users should consider that both protocols (method of transporting voice packets across a network) and codecs (method of encoding/decoding digital data streams or signals) must be compatible with the VoIP service/system being used. If not, the gateway will not work properly—i.e. reduced call quality, or complete failure to work. Aside from VoIP Gateways, there are other tools and devices available. For example, Analog Telephone Adapters (ATAs) convert signal one phone at a time. While these devices are helpful, they are much slower. Gateways are able to support upwards of 200 calls at one time.

Users that are hesitant in abandoning their traditional service need not look further. Gateways are a quick and simple solution that works with your traditional line. VoIP offers an expansive feature that traditional lines cannot account for; therefore, it doesn’t make sense for users to rely solely on their PSTN. While some reservations and concerns have footed validity, solutions such as VoIP Gateways offer users advanced service and features without dropping their traditional service.

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