A voice-over-internet-protocol (VoIP) gateway is a hardware device that converts calls between an internet-based IP network and traditional copper-based landlines so that voice data can be transmitted. This saves businesses the cost of upgrading existing phone hardware while still allowing them to make use of VoIP-based business phone systems.
How a VoIP Gateway Works
VoIP gateways work much like an internet router in that they can receive calls over the IP network, decompress the call, and decode the signal for transmissions across the traditional copper phone infrastructure known as the public switched telephone network (PSTN). Inversely, they also receive voice traffic from copper landlines and encode the call over the IP network.
This allows businesses to use traditional phone devices without completely overhauling existing phone network infrastructure. In addition, they provide a significant advantage over VoIP adapters, like analog telephone adapters (ATA), which convert a single line, as they can support hundreds of calls at a time.
Once a VoIP gateway is installed, businesses can take advantage of all the powerful VoIP features (like long-distance calling, visual voicemail, and advanced call management) right from their hard-wired phones.
Types of VoIP Gateways
In order to understand the types of VoIP gateways, you need to know the difference between the two ports, or connection types, used by these devices. The first port is known as the foreign exchange subscriber (FXS). This powers the device and connects your phones to the phone company. The second, called the foreign exchange office (FXO), connects the gateway to devices like phones, fax machines, and Ethernet systems.
VoIP gateways then vary based on your VoIP phone system setup and what connections are needed:
- FXS gateway: FXS gateways connect analog telephones and fax machines to a VoIP phone service through an internet connection.
- FXO gateway: This type of VoIP gateway allows you to connect an analog phone system using a traditional private branch exchange (PBX) network to a VoIP-enabled business phone service provider through a physical connection such as a wall jack.
- Digital VoIP gateway: These devices are used to group individual VoIP lines into one collective system, and can also be used to connect legacy PBX systems with an IP network.
VoIP Gateway Providers
There several VoIP gateway solutions on the market, which can vary based type and the number of available phone ports. These can typically be purchased for a one-time cost or leased along with other equipment. However, in order for the device to work, you must have a subscription with a VoIP-based business phone system provider, like RingCentral, which has pricing plans starting at $29.99 per month.
Some example VoIP gateway providers include:
- Patton Analog Gateway Devices: Patton provides industry-leading analog gateway devices for companies ranging from small businesses to enterprises. Patton’s SmartNode line ranges from hundreds to thousands of dollars depending on the number of ports you need.
- Grandstream Digital Gateways: Grandstream offers enterprise businesses a range of digital gateways. Its GXW line provides a variety of models that provide support for anywhere from 30 to 120 concurrent calls.
VoIP Gateway Pros & Cons
VoIP Gateway Pros
VoIP Gateway Cons
Use your existing legacy phone system for your communications instead of replacing everything
VoIP gateways connect legacy infrastructure to the future of phone systems, but they’re only a bridge
Enjoy the reliability and call quality of a landline while also utilizing VoIP features
Setup can be difficult for those with little-to-no computer networking experience
Take your phone calls with you wherever you go with the mobile functionality that VoIP routing provides
VoIP gateways subject your phone system to the downsides of VoIP, such as internet dependencies and power outages
VoIP Gateway Alternatives
The best alternative to a VoIP gateway would be to completely overhaul your legacy infrastructure with a VoIP system. It may cost a hefty upfront premium, but the monthly landline expense you’ll be cutting (plus the added VoIP-enabled functionality) will save you money in the long run.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Will a VoIP gateway still provide me with a caller ID?
Yes. Your handset will display the same caller name and number you’d typically see routed through your landline system.
Can I use my cell phone on the business’ phone network?
Yes. If your VoIP provider has a softphone app, you can make and receive calls on your mobile device over your traditional or cloud-hosted PBX system.
Can a VoIP gateway revert calls to the PSTN if the internet crashes or the power goes out?
Yes, but only with specific models and VoIP providers. Check with your hardware supplier and VoIP services provider to check your unit’s functionality.
A VoIP gateway is a business’ bridge to the future of phone communications. Thanks to gateways, you don’t need to replace your entire legacy phone infrastructure to take advantage of modern VoIP features. You can simply install a gateway with sufficient ports to handle all your existing landlines and voice traffic. Check out Patton and Grandstream’s gateway products to find the best one for your business, and then signup for a RingCentral account to access all the VoIP services your business needs.