VOIP – What is it and will it work for me?
You may have heard the word VOIP used a lot recently and may be left wondering “what is it and will it help me?” Well, explaining the full intricacies of VOIP is far beyond the scope of this article, but perhaps we can try to clear up a few points.
In short VOIP stands for Voice Over IP and as far as this article is concerned, this relates to the delivery of voice communications over Internet Protocol (IP) such as the internet.
One of the reasons why so much noise has been made over this technology is the cost savings that it can make you.
For instance, let’s compare……………….
a) A conventional telephone system with 25 users, each with a direct dial and the system is connected via ISDN.
b) A VOIP based telephone system with 25 users, each with a direct dial and connected via a voice approved ADSL line.
It is highly possible that system b could reduce your monthly call costs by half, yes, that’s right 50%! On the face of it it seems to be a no brainer, coupled with all the additional features offered by a VOIP system such as remote workers being able to have a phone at home that works just as if they were in the office. Plus, where multiple sites are concerned, site to site calls can be free.
However, an ISDN system is very reliable and a VOIP system using a voice approved ADSL line has it’s Achilles heel right there. ADSL lines rarely come with any kind of SLA and their uptime is not as good as ISDN. That’s not to say it’s not an option as there is the possibility of running a backup ADSL line for when the primary fails. Additionally, new technologies such as EFM (Ethernet first mile) can provide a more reliable connection for a VOIP system and often come with an SLA, the cost is higher than ADSL but it may still save money as this technology is capable of serving both your voice and data requirements with one circuit.
To move from ISDN to VOIP most likely some investment will be required, you will probably need to replace your PBX (Phone system) and handsets. A cost saving analysis is worth doing at this point to see if VOIP is for you at this stage.
If you currently have no system and are just about to install your first, chances are that VOIP will be the way to go. The only choice left to make is whether you have an onsite PBX or a hosted system, but that’s a story for another day.