IP telephony handsets connect directly into a local area network (LAN) switch. Voice (and video for video enabled phones) use the computer network to communicate. Key points related to IP handsets include:
- The handsets need to be coupled with an IP telephony switch which will need an interconnection point to the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) which enables phone calls to/from mobiles/cell phones and traditional telephones.
- The IP telephony server can be purchased and installed in your own office (3CX , Cisco Unified Communications Manager), or many companies provide IP telephony services to connect your IP handsets with (Vonage, RingCentral, or Microsoft).
- IP handsets need power. This can be provided directly to the handset with a power cable, or it can be provided via the computer network connection using something called Power over Ethernet (PoE). PoE requires PoE enabled network switches.
- IP handsets include their own switch. IP handsets include a two port switch. This allow you to connect the handset to the computer network and your computer to the handset. This removes the need for an additional computer connection.
- Since IP handsets are connected on the computer network there are requirements for the network to support IP telephony. This outside the scope of this page, but something to keep in mind.