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Keeping Communications Compliant: Hardphones vs. Softphones

Businesses are changing the way in which they communicate, especially in the wake of so many moving to a remote or hybrid work model. Highly mobile and dispersed workforces need different tools to communicate, and businesses are adopting UC platforms at increasing rates. It's time for your organization to look ahead and recognize the collaboration tools needed for future success, while balancing current communications needs.


Time to Ask Some Questions

What is working for your business as you adapt to long term remote environments? What is helping your dispersed workforce collaborate? What is beginning to feel outdated? These are the types of questions businesses are asking in order to remain efficient and effective, regardless of whether employees are back in the office or working from home.

Understanding the best types of communication devices and platforms for your business aid in increasing productivity and efficiencies. However, knowing what types of devices and platforms your company uses is also vital in determining what responsibilities you have to fulfill state and federal legislation.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has developed specific regulations around emergency situations and when a person dials 9-1-1 from your network or company issued device. Knowing the difference between device types on your enterprise allows you to plan for the specific deadlines your company must meet. It will also show whether you are already out of compliance and must act now.


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What Are VoIP Hardphones?     

Most simply, a hardphone is a physical device. It sits on your desk. It has all the features of a traditional phone like a handheld receiver and numbered buttons. While it appears much like traditional phone systems, a hardphone works very differently behind the scenes. While hardphones are plugged into walls, they are not connecting your calls through the traditional copper wires. Rather, hardphones connect your calls via the organization’s IP networks. Hardphones use the internet to connect all your calls.

Additionally, hardphones can have improved features such as displays for video calls and conferencing. They are essentially mini-computers whose only job is to connect your calls. This means that hardphones can sometimes provide a better, more reliable, connection than a softphone, as the hardphone’s only job is to connect calls.

While they come at a steeper cost, traditional workspaces may opt for a hardphone-based environment. Hardphones are something that most people are familiar enough with, so they would not require training or onboarding, and the 100% reliability is another attractive quality. This differs from softphones, which you will learn in the next section.


What Are Softphones?

A softphone is an application that can be downloaded onto any compatible device such as a laptop, tablet, or smart phone. Softphones allow the user to send and receive VoIP calls using their business phone number on multiple devices. This provides extreme flexibility, especially for those working outside the confines of traditional office spaces and hours.

Softphones are often included within powerful collaborative tools, which many businesses are turning to in order to perform efficiently throughout recent quarantines and the mass move to remote working. Some popular softphone systems include Cisco Webex, MSTeams, Zoom, etc.


Hardphones vs Softphones. What is the Best Fit for My Company?

In the wake of pandemic, softphones have become increasingly popular. They offer supreme mobility and are often lower in cost. However, due to the fact that softphones operate on devices that are running multiple programs, the quality of the call may suffer at times. However, slight blips in quality are often worth it for a business’s ability to place workers anywhere in the world and allow constant collaboration.


What Do Hardphones and Softphones Have to Do With 9-1-1?

The phone systems (MLTS) your organization chooses to implement must be compliant with both Kari’s Law and the RAY BAUM’s Act, and there are different deadlines you must hit depending on what phone systems you have in place. You will need to ensure that you have the proper E911 solution to protect your specific environment whether you have only hardphones, only softphones, or a combination of both.


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