What is a DECT VoIP phone?

DECT stands for Digital Enhanced Cordless Telecommunications, which is a rather grand term for a modern cordless phone. It is also said to stand for Digital European Cordless Telecommunications and, as it originated in Europe, that’s just as good a term for it.

Basically though, it’s just a cordless digital phone handset. It has been around for many years and preceding technologies such as Bluetooth and WiFi. It was in use well before the big migration to VoIP began. You don’t have to use a DECT phone with VoIP, but the combination works really well and is what’s used in most commercial and domestic situations.

An example of a DECT phone from Yealink

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How DECT started

We kind of expect handsets to be wireless now – but when DECT got started, most phones still had to be physically connected to socket in the wall or on a switch or adapter. Work started in the 1980s and the original DECT standard was first published in 1992. It was developed by the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) and was soon being used by manufacturers around the world to provide a simple, reliable, and inexpensive cordless phone option.

There are fundamentally, two components to a DECT system – the base station and the handset. These two units constantly communicate using radio waves, so if a call comes into the bases station, it can connect it to the handset/s (there may be more than one) immediately.

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What are the benefits of a DECT phone system?

Aside from being completely wires-free, the benefits of DECT are range, quality, reliability, and cost. It’s also very secure and energy-efficient.

DECT is widely used for cordless handsets in both commercial and consumer deployments. The big advantage of DECT is its range. The base station – which would plug into the phone socket or router for IP-based solutions – and the handset can be up to 100 meters distant, which should be plenty for most office or home deployments. However, as is the case with WiFi, the reception may depend on the building and physical characteristics of the area. If there are a lot of thick walls and other obstructions, the range will be impacted. On the other hand, if there are no obstructions, DECT can work at up to 300m.

By comparison, the range of Bluetooth is only around 30 meters – but that technology was designed for and is used for very different kinds of applications – namely linking-up small electronic devices, such as connecting your smartphone to your internal speaker system in the car.

Also, you do not have to rely on the inherent range of a DECT base station and handset; you can extend coverage with repeaters. It’s perfectly possible to support quite extensive installations with DECT. In addition, you can have multiple handsets that are connected to the same base station, so you could easily pick up calls in different rooms on different handsets.

WiFi of course, is a completely different technology; with WiFi you can have access points set up right across a building, or extended area and, in theory, it should be possible to use VoIP handsets through those WiFi connections – providing that the handset has built-in WiFi as well of course.

DECT phones can also and often are used with VoIP as they are cost less to produce and, as they use a difference frequency to WiFi (and to Bluetooth) they won’t use bandwidth on the wireless network. They also provide really good quality. DECT was designed for voice, whereas WiFi was designed for data.

This is not to say that VoIP phones that use WiFi to connect offer poor quality, but DECT is a very well tried, tested, and reliable technology and can readily be used alongside these other wireless technologies. You could connect some handsets with DECT, others with WiFi. This might sound a little complicated, but it’s not that hard to set up at all. And your service provide should be able to help.

DECT used 64-bit encryption which makes it very secure. It is also a really energy-efficient technology. Handsets can be left off the base station for some time and retain enough energy to make and pick up calls. And as soon as they are placed on the base station again, they will start to recharge.

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DECT phones for hosted VoIP phone systems

DECT is widely used to link cordless handsets to hosted VoIP telephony services, with both business and consumer solutions. It’s important to understand that these two elements of telephony – the handsets or devices used to make and take calls, and telephony service itself – are entirely distinct from each other.

If you subscribe to a VoIP service, you can connect to it through a special VoIP handset, a desktop, laptop, or tablet computer, or even using a smartphone. But you can also use DECT to provide the link between the router and the handset – via a base station.

Indeed, multiple DECT phones can be connected to a DECT receiver station, which in turn would be connected to the Internet line. The hosted VoIP service would take care of everything on the Internet side of the base station, the DECT system would simply connect the calls to the appropriate handset. This would mean you’d get all the benefits of VoIP, alongside the simplicity, affordability, and reliability of DECT.

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How to choose the best DECT phone

If you are subscribing to a VoIP service, your provider will probably have a preferred choice of DECT systems and indeed, may offer them itself as part of an overall package. But you can also go out and buy your own DECT system. All the DECT systems on the market will be VoIP-compatible.

It’s always good to go for a well-known and established brand, but DECT providers are not exactly household brand names, so it’s probably best to go with the handsets that your VoIP supplier or reseller recommends.

Systems for larger businesses and call centres will need to be carefully set-up to ensure coverage and connectivity is exactly as it should be. Usually, for these environments, DECT headsets will be the best suited. For smaller businesses or domestic situations, it’s much simpler and if you are confident with technology, you could easily set up your own small; DECT phone system.

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