Eugene Raynor

Softphones vs deskphones – Which one’s better for your enterprise and why?

Eugene Raynor

Apr 13, 2021

11 min read

Technology has evolved a lot over the past decade. In today’s corporate environment, with infrastructure moving to the cloud, almost every kind of hardware is being replaced by more convenient online solutions, and your office phones are no different. Why pay a separate telephone bill for your office when you can just take it out of your internet expenses? Yes, I’m talking about VoIP and the countless possibilities it opens.

However, with the introduction of every new technology, your business gets presented with a few important decisions. ‘Softphones vs Deskphones? How do I decide the best solution for my business?’ This is one such tough choice to make.

Softphones vs Deskphones

So, how do you do it? Softphones or Deskphones – what’s the better choice for your Enterprise?

What is a Softphone?

A Softphone is a software application installed on devices like smartphones, tablets and PCs (any device with a speaker and microphone) that connects the devices to a VoIP network and enables them to make and manage phone calls over the internet.

What is a Deskphone?

A Deskphone is a VoIP-enabled telephone that empowers users to transmit voice signals in digital packets through the internet, using Ethernet/Fiber optic cables instead of legacy phone lines.

Furthermore, if you already use landlines or Deskphones in your office, is it worth replacing them all with Softphones? These are hard choices that require quite a bit of research and thinking.

But don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. In this blog, we’ll cover the features, use cases, and costs involved when comparing Softphones vs Deskphones and determine which solution is feasible for your Enterprise and why.

1: Working

Both Softphones and Deskphones work quite similarly. Both devices use the concept of Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) technology to place calls. While Deskphones are connected to the web through Ethernet cables, Softphones have software installed that enables them to make and receive calls using Wi-Fi.

Deskphone in an Office
Deskphone in an Office
What is VoIP?

VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) is a technology that converts voice into digital signals, compresses it into small packets, and sends it over the internet. Simply put, it enables you to deliver telephone services through the web.

With VoIP, you can have your Deskphones connected to the internet to make calls. Or better yet, you can have your smartphones, laptops, or even your TVs (any online device with a speaker and a microphone, really) converted into Softphones that can make and manage calls. And what’s more, these services actually cost LESS than traditional landlines while providing MORE features.

To place a call using VoIP, your Deskphone must be SIP (Sessions Initiation Protocol) compatible, and your Softphones must have a VoIP calling app installed. This assigns your phones with an IP address, enabling them to make and manage calls from your network.

2: Cost

Now you may be wondering; Softphones require only a bit of software on your device to run. Of course it’s going to cost way less than setting up Deskphones for your office! Well – Yes, but No.

Technically, you’re right. All that your Softphone needs to make itself work is – the software (along with the in-built audio components). But when you’re setting up Softphones for your Enterprise, that’s not all you’ll require.

You’re going to need a good pair of headsets. Employees cannot have calls on speakerphone when they’re in the office. That’s just gonna ruin everyone’s groove. You’ll need enterprise-grade headsets with microphones and active noise cancellation mechanisms, that can go along with your Softphones. And those don’t come cheap. Let’s find out, shall we?

  • So, a basic office headset will set you back by about 10$ to 50$.
  • Considering that such headsets either go out of style or get replaced by 2 to 3 years, the average TCO (Total Cost of Ownership) comes to about 120$ for ten years.
  • Now if you’re going higher, the best industry headsets will cost you between 250$ to 400$.
  • These tend to last longer than your average headsets. Let’s say about 3 to 4 years. So, the average TCO comes to around 1000$ for a time period of 10 years.

*(data taken from Amazon, Hubspot blogs, CNET)

Now let’s compare these figures with some Deskphones of similar quality.

  • You can purchase a basic Deskphone for your Enterprise for around 30$ to 50$.
  • Deskphones go outdated or are replaced approximately after 7 to 9 years. So, we’ll just take the TCO as 40$ for 10 years.
  • Now, the best Deskphones are on sale for around 450$ to 850$.
  • Considering that these too get outdated by around 7 to 9 years, they’re going to cost you somewhere near 650$ for 10 years.

*(data taken from Amazon, itprice)

We’re seeing a price gap of around 80$ for basic devices to about 350$ for the best devices available. Multiply that with the number of units your enterprise needs, and you’re looking at a pretty significant gap in price.

Furthermore, if your office runs an existing landline setup, you can switch to a VoIP network by connecting them to a VoIP gateway.

A VoIP gateway serves as a bridge between your IP network and your legacy telephone network. It is a piece of hardware that,

  • Connects your traditional PSTN (Public Switched Telephone Network) to an IP network, and
  • Converts incoming PSTN traffic into digital VoIP packets, and vice versa

Such a move enables you to maximize your cost savings by reusing old equipment. However, it must be noted that quite a few features may not be available when reusing older telephone models.

3: Call Quality

Let’s get straight to the point. Deskphones provide your Enterprise with clear and uninterrupted call quality. This is because they are connected to the internet via ethernet or fiber optic cables. Softphones, on the other hand, use Wi-Fi to connect to the web. Although not entirely noticeable, this results in a relatively reduced call quality when compared to Deskphones.

4: Ease of Use

Since Deskphones are standalone devices, they are always ready to use 24/7. And as they work similar to a traditional landline, employees require no prior training to operate them.

On the other hand, Softphones depend on the health and status of the device in use. To use the Softphone, the device must first be booted up. In case your device is not performing well, has been attacked by malware, or isn’t turning on, well, there goes your Softphone too. They also require some light training to operate, as some features may seem unfamiliar to new users.

5: Features and Functionalities

When it comes to the features, Deskphones provide more rugged call handling capabilities, including the ability to transfer and hold calls, switch to multiple lines and go to voicemail. You’ll also get relatively better sound quality on a Deskphone than on Softphones that usually run on mobile devices or PCs. However, Softphones provide a far greater range of features for your Enterprise, including the ability to,

Control presence and view other active users

With the presence feature, Softphones can show the status of your teammates. Using this feature, users can check if a teammate is offline, busy, in a meeting or online, enabling them to quickly identify available teammates and assign or divert calls, thereby boosting business productivity.

Make Video Calls, Voicemails and Instant messages

Softphones enable businesses to strengthen their team communication processes with features like Instant messaging, Video calls and voicemail. This aids employees in their remote collaboration processes.

Monitor and manage Call logs, user activity and Internet data

Since Softphones are managed from the cloud, as an IT admin, you can easily track your employees’ calls and activities, regardless of whether they are in the office or working remotely. This enables businesses to monitor calls and ensure productive hours. You can also manage network data for your employees to restrict them from wasting it for unproductive purposes.

What’s the Verdict?

I think it’s pretty obvious who’s the winner here.

If you’re looking for better features, more flexibility and control, and the ability to set up and monitor a remote workforce, then Softphones are the way to go.

With their additional features, including presence and the ability to view and transfer calls to active users, Softphones are the more sensible choice for remote team communications. However,

If high sound quality, better cost optimization in the long run, and more fluid call handling functions are your requirements, then your business can benefit from using Deskphones.

There is no written rule stating you must deploy only Softphones or only Deskphones for your Enterprise. You can easily set up a mix of both models in the office to meet your business needs. Ultimately, it’s up to you to review and decide which plan would best fulfill your enterprise requirements.

Why are softphones the better option for a remote workforce?

Softphones are extremely useful for Enterprises that employ a remote workforce. They equip your business with the flexibility and mobility required to run remote services without sacrificing any of the necessary features to make and manage calls.

Employee making calls on a Softphone device
Employee making calls on a Softphone device

The best part about Softphones is that they are usually managed from a central cloud-based server. This enables you to answer calls from any device while on the go, from any location on earth. The only pre-requisite required to fulfill is the availability of a fast and uninterrupted internet connection. Since calls made from a Softphone are displayed by business numbers, employees can boldly use their personal devices as Softphones.

Best practices for VoIP security

Although VoIP technology equips your Enterprise with innovative functionalities, it can also act as potential gateways for cyberattacks. Enterprises must secure their networks and devices to prevent the occurrences of such attacks. Some good practices to achieve VoIP security are,

Review call logs

It is essential to periodically check your enterprise call logs for any irregularities in calling trends or activities. A detailed report on call logs enables you to track abnormal call durations, call times and locations, letting you quickly rectify these issues in your Enterprise.

Delete inactive accounts

It is good to delete accounts not being used, such as when an employee leaves a company or is transferred to another department.

Use router with firewall

It is not advised to connect your IP phones directly to the internet, as this makes your device vulnerable and increases the chances for attacks in your system. By using a router to connect to the web and by activating the firewall, suspicious attempts to access your system are automatically blocked.

Educate employees on good security practices

With Phishing and Social Engineering scams on the rise, it is crucial to educate employees on the security practices required when working in an enterprise. This dramatically reduces the chances of such attacks affecting your business.

How can your enterprise secure VoIP endpoints with Hexnode UEM?

With Hexnode’s award-winning UEM solution, your Enterprise can secure VoIP endpoints and ensure that they connect to secure and encrypted channels.

Password and device encryption policies

With Hexnode, businesses can enforce password policies for their VoIP devices and customize the password requirements, including complexity, age, history, attempts after device wipe and auto-lock time. You can also push device encryption policies such as FileVault and BitLocker to ensure that your call records and activity logs stay secure and encrypted.

Virtual Private Network (VPN)

A VPN can secure and encrypt all network traffic even when an employee is connected to an unsecured and open network. Hexnode enables you to push VPN configurations in bulk to your managed devices and ensure that network traffic stays encrypted, even when managing calls remotely.

Wi-Fi encryption

It is never a good idea to connect your managed devices to unsecured Wi-Fi networks. This is especially the case when working remotely. With Hexnode, you can restrict devices from joining open Wi-Fi networks and push corporate network configurations in bulk to your managed devices.

Network Data Management

Hexnode UEM equips enterprises with the ability to set up network usage rules for managed devices. As an IT admin, this enables you to set up restrictions on data usage, either entirely or for individual apps, and notify IT when the set limits have been crossed.

OS updates

Staying updated on recent OS updates and patches is a must for managed devices. This protects your device from any malware or flaws in the software.

Eugene Raynor

Seeking what's there lurking over the horizon.

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