Is a Voice over IP (VoIP) phone system right for your business?

Voice over IP (VoIP) is perhaps the most misunderstood term in telecommunications.  Let’s break it down, along with several other often misunderstood terms in modern telecommunications.  Along the way, we’ll clear up several misconceptions and help you be more informed about technologies that can positively impact your business.

VoIP is a Communication Protocol Using Packet-Switched IP Networks

Ok, so what does that mean?

VoIP is defined as Voice over Internet Protocol where the two-way transmission of audio is done over a packet-switched IP network (TCP/IP network). This does not mean it has to involve the internet. The technology simply uses the same network protocols that are used for the transmission of voice over the internet. The “network” can be an on-premise or campus environment, Local Area Network (LAN), a Wide Area Network (WAN) which connects to multiple LANs, or a IP phone service provided by an Internet Service Provider (ISP) or Carrier.  Voice over IP (VoIP) also known as IP Telephony simply uses packet switching internet protocol technology as opposed to analog or digital technology to transmit phone conversations over any network.

VoIP Can be Implemented on Most Computer Networks

VoIP can be implemented on most computer data networks making it available to any size business and provides access to features and applications not as easily available on standard analog or digital networks.

Why Managed VoIP Communications are so Important

IP telephony over a managed Internet data network backbone or on a business-managed private network can provide voice quality matching that of the Local Telephone Company which accesses the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) through traditional analog or digital protocol.

The term managed is a key: one, for it implies that it will prioritize voice packets over data packets during the voice transmission and two, that is critical for a voice conversation equal to a Public Switched Telephone Network (PTSN) call.

Understanding Quality of Service (QoS) for your Managed Network

The term Quality of Service (QoS) is used in reference to a managed network. Quality of Service (QoS) is achieved by providing appliances such as switches and routers which allow for the configuration and set up of packet prioritization, making voice the priority, and can be easily done on the Local Area Network (LAN). When a Wide Area Network (WAN) is used, Carriers or Internet Service Providers (ISPs) have these appliances in key re-transmission locations and guarantee that the transmission and Quality of Service (QoS) are maintained to a high level. However, when using the unmanaged Public Internet voice quality varies considerably and issues such as echo, static, voice delay, and disconnects may be experienced. This connection can be compared to a bad cell phone call.  However protocols that support Quality of Service (QoS) are expected in the future and this should improve unmanaged internet call quality.

How VoIP Managed Communications Impact Your Business

To recap, Voice over IP (VoIP) is a type of phone service technology that uses an internet protocol rather than a traditional phone line to transmit phone calls. One of the most popular reasons for choosing Voice over IP (VoIP) is cost savings. Voice over IP (VoIP) service plans are typically less expensive than traditional phone lines and Voice over IP (VoIP) systems, once installed, can require minimal maintenance and deliver other costs savings:

  • No long distance charges
  • Remote office workers
  • Video conferencing
  • Call tracking
  • Online system management
  • Multi-site connectivity
  • Cell phone integration
  • IPad and tablet applications

Requirements for Successful Implementation of a Voice over IP (VoIP) System

  • A high-speed managed internet connection
  • A Voice over IP (VoIP) telephone service plan
  • Phone system capable of Voice over IP (VoIP) either IP-enabled or resident IP

Before you VoIP phone system goes live, a thorough analysis of your network is advised. There is even test software that you can put on your network to simulate voice traffic.  Any time spent in preparing your network for VoIP is time well spent. If you discover that your present data network or wiring infrastructure may not be able support Quality of Service (QoS), this doesn’t mean you need to replace everything in order to take advantage of the new Voice over IP (VoIP) features. You may want to look into a hybrid phone system which allows digital and IP technology to coexist and truly offers the best of both worlds. For example, digital in-office phones, IP off-site soft phones and an analog audio-conferencing unit can share the same system. This is especially useful if you plan to role out the new phone system in stages.

Cost savings aren’t the only reason to make the switch. VoIP provides unique features that can allow you to have remote offices or workers access calls from anywhere an internet connection is available. As the workforce becomes more and more mobile, the standards that define the modern office change and properly implemented VoIP can make the transition of your office to modern technology a reality.

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