Role of the PC in VoIP communications
For many years now, communication over the phone has been achieved using dedicated devices. Nothing wrong with that of course, and there are plenty of situations where a dedicated device serves the needs of a segment of the population far better than a multipurpose one. The camera is an example and it seems unlikely that cameras will ever be replaced by smartphones.
However, there are times when the dedicated devices become a white elephant around the collective neck of the technological and business community and different devices are need to enable radical advances to occur. This is what is happening with in the communications industry right now with VoIP being the challenger. With VoIP, another device is coming into prominence as the capabilities of the technology are being explored. The PC.
Using VoIP with the PC
When utilizing VoIP for a small business, a more complex piece of hardware is needed to keep up with all the functionality and settings that are the hallmark of a full fledged VoIP infrastructure. For example, businesses will need to configure their users, attach different devices to each person and generally ensure that everything is set up to reflect the way their business works.
For this, it's impossible to use anything less than a PC. In fact, it's possible to delegate the work to each user and allow them to configure their phone systems the way they like it. So they can set up extensions, register and deregister phones, go about enabling HD voice using VoIP, check their voicemail and do everything that a VoIP system is famous for.
In fact, this is a good thing since it enables VoIP providers to design their software in an easy and simple manner using familiar interfaces. We've all shaken our heads in frustration at some of the overly complex configuration procedures on phones - even the simplest of operations like setting a speed dial vary from phone to phone depending on the whims of the manufacturer. With a PC, anyone can figure out how to use it when there is a GUI, help notification provisions and tooltips.
Of course, there are times when you have to use a PC to connect. This is mainly to leech off the Internet connection that's supplied to the PC - such as when you use the magicJack hardware. One can expect that in the future when Internet access is as ubiquitous as phone lines are today, the PC can be done away with for simple configurations.
And that's the great thing about VoIP. There is no "one way" to do it. The power lies in its flexibility.