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Creating your own certainty in a changing mortgage environment

National Mortgage Professional
Aug 14, 2007

A perfect marriageRich Garboski voiceover Internet protocol (VOIP), Session Initiation Protocol (SIP), Internet VOIP technology and the mortgage industry Every so often, a new technology arrives on the scene that has the potential to change the way we do business. In the 1980s, the breakup of the Bell system created alternative communication solutions after a wide variety of telephone systems and voicemail applications arrived on the scene. In the 1990s, the Internet opened up worlds of opportunities for all industries, especially the mortgage industry, with the introduction of e-mail and instant messaging. Also, Web sites entered the arena as a new way of prospecting, advertising and communicating with customers. Web optimization has enhanced the playing field for many mortgage companies on a global basis. There's a new technology that matured over the last few years called voiceover Internet protocol (VOIP). This is changing the way the world can now communicate. No longer is a business bound to the phone company or a long distance carrier. While most business owners may be accustomed to paying for every phone call, those calls can now be made for free! This technology has matured to provide excellent voice quality by using VOIP to make Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) calls, which are calls that are established from point to point without the need of a telephone carrier. For the mortgage company that employs loan officers who work remotely or out of their homes, or for those that offer branching programs, a VOIP telephone system will allow all of your employees to be virtually connected to the corporate office. The benefits are numerous. Savings is on the top of the list, and through VOIP, your geographically disbursed employees will give the appearance to outside callers that they are residing in the corporate office itself. For example, a remote branch or employee is speaking to a title/escrow company that needs to arrange a closing date. By dialing an extension number, the agent can be sent directly to your closing department. To really understand how VOIP and the mortgage industry is such a good marriage of technology and business, one must understand what VOIP and SIP really are. What are VOIP and SIP? VOIP allows for your Internet connection to be utilized for Web browsing, e-mail and other data functions, and simultaneously utilized for voice communications. This amazing feature eliminates the need to have a separate phone line from that of your computer. In fact, over the next few years, you will see traditional analog telephone lines completely phased out and replaced with one pipe that will either be a cable connection, fiber optic or other high-speed connection brought into one's home office or business. It will integrate all voice and data communications onto one common transmission medium. Businesses will have many options as to who to turn to for this pipe. While the term "VOIP" has become more common over the past few years, the term "SIP" is very new and represents a technology that will have the same impact that the Internet, Web browsers and e-mail once had. SIP is merely a set of communication rules for establishing a point-to-point connection over the Internet for the purposes of voice or data usage. In the traditional method of telephone communications, businesses were accustomed to picking up a telephone device, dialing a set of digits and the phone company would connect point A to point B for a fee. Before the days of the Internet and cell phones, this was the only means of communication, and everyone was under the jurisdiction of telephone communications companies. A SIP call, however, functions very differently. The best way to describe SIP is that it compares very much to instant messaging on the Internet. It provides a direct point to point communication link between two people by first establishing an Internet connection between the two parties, then allowing for an audio or video conversation to occur. All of this happens without the need of the traditional telephone network. With the latest business telephone systems supporting SIP as a method of communication, a world of possibilities and savings will open up for the mortgage industry. Why use VOIP and SIP? There are many advantages for using VOIP and SIP over the traditional way telephone calls are typically made. Some of the benefits specific to the mortgage industry are: Create a seamless integration of your off-site personnel With a VOIP phone system, you can connect all your remote loan officers and branches through SIP calling between their individual locations and the corporate office. Not only are these calls free, it will also create an integrated environment. No more various numbers to remember and stacks of phone bills to pay! With this technology in place, the operator in your main office can transfer a call to any branch or remote loan officer in the country (or visa versa) while appearing totally transparent to the customer. Lower your operating costs With VOIP and a phone system that supports SIP, you can have as many different telephone providers as you like. I would recommend using one provider for out-of-state calls and use another for in-state calls. With the various dialing plans and providers available, a mortgage company can now effectively control its operating costs. Converge your data and voice mediums Most business platforms today have separate access to telephone lines and access to their Internet. VOIP technology allows businesses to combine these mediums and lower their operating costs by using one facility for both their data and voice communications needs. If your business is using separate facilities, your company is most likely paying too much. Are there pitfalls of VOIP? In the early days of VOIP, the biggest complaint was the quality of the audio, which was choppy. This choppiness was due to the speed of the Internet at that time and other factors that were out of proportion--such as the size of the digital signal after conversion from an analog format. Since broadband is more readily available, Internet speeds have improved while the methods of compressing voice signals have improved. This has resulted in a very clear voice/audio quality on VOIP and SIP calls. In most cases, the clarity is even better than that of the traditional telephone network. Additionally, the implementation of quality of service (QOS) ensures that voice traffic takes priority over data traffic. With correct implementations of QOS, conversations are consistently of good voice quality. Like other technologies that have entered the marketplace, VOIP and SIP have matured to the point where mortgage companies can now adopt and embrace this technology and take advantage of the numerous benefits they have to offer--the perfect marriage! Rich Garboski is the president and founder of New York City-based He may be reached at (888) 557-8324 or e-mail [email protected]
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