VoIP and UC: Decoding the Difference

By Brian Ferguson

VoIP and UC

When working within your profession on a daily basis, it’s so easy to take the lingo of the industry for granted and assume that everyone must know what all of it means. This assumption can often result in confusion for people that are interested in the products and services you offer. This phenomenon is also very common in the communications industry- no more so than with two terms that are confused so often that they are incorrectly used interchangeably, even though they are two distinct technologies. The terms that cause a great deal of confusion are VoIP and UC. In order to help clarify how these two technologies differ and to understand what is important to know about both of them, let me briefly explain a little about each one.

What is VoIP?

VoIP stands for Voice over IP, and in the most basic terms, means using your existing network and/or internet connection to facilitate voice calls. Companies can achieve a true VoIP system by purchasing a VoIP-enabled phone system and take advantage of SIP trunking to facilitate handling the voice calls over your existing Internet connection, as opposed to a dedicated physical voice line(s) like PRI, T1, or analog. The cost savings gained by the removal of these outdated physical connections and the drastic usage rate savings are the primary drivers for many looking to move to VoIP.

At the same time, VoIP has opened up the telecom world to new features and functionality that has moved communications beyond simple phone calls. Features like chat, mobility, status, and business app integration are just a few-and this is where our next term comes into play.

What is UC?

Unified Communications (UC) is less about how the calls are made and more about the many different ways that VoIP systems allow you to communicate to your co-workers and customers. UC is the unification of many what used to be desperate systems, into one-with a single interface and user experience. UC combines voice, data, email, chat/instant messaging, video, screen sharing, and conferencing into one, unified system. Now users can take advantage of all these different connectivity options and choose which one is the right method for that individual situation without having to cycle to the correct application. These advanced options available in a UC system allow companies to be more efficient and productive in today’s ever-changing work environments.

Understanding How it Fits Together

Now that you know a little about VoIP and UC, let’s take a look at Switchvox, Digium’s UC solution, to help you understand how these two technologies work together and can help you solve your communications challenges.

Switchvox is an IP-enabled PBX and uses VoIP technology to mange phone calls. Switchvox appliances can be installed in your network and SIP providers, like Digium SIP trunks, can be connected to save you money on your monthly phone bill. At the same time, Switchvox takes advantage of your network’s ability to process more than just phone calls and includes UC features to provide solutions to communications headaches such as:

  • A softphone for your iPhone and Android to handle calls from anywhere
  • Conferencing to connect groups from all over the world to collaborate on projects
  • Instant messaging to get instant feedback and answers to questions while greatly reducing your email backlog
  • Status to have visibility on the location and activities of your staff
  • Voicemail to email to stay connected regardless of location
  • Video for conversations that need physical context or the need to understand expressions and visuals
  • And so many more


We would love show you how Switchvox can combine the cost savings and flexibility of VoIP with the power of UC to solve your specific communications challenges.


Sign up for a personalized demo with one of our Account Executive group and see for yourself how Switchvox can save you over 70% on your monthly phone bill and change the way your company communicates.



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