As Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) becomes a mainstream technology, more and more companies adopt it as a cost-effective and flexible means for voice and data transmission. It has come a long way since it first came to mass consciousness back in 2004; it was primarily designed before as an alternative way for consumers to place and receive cheaper telephone calls using existing broadband connections instead of a public switched telephone network (PSTN).
Migrating to VoIP for business
It is always good business sense, whether in good or bad economic times, to make use of technologies that are proven and economical. VoIP certainly offers this advantage, as it has been in used in business settings for quite a while and so far has a good track record in serving the communication requirements of companies without major interruptions or breakdowns.
Known primarily for bringing down the cost of local and international long distance voice calls, VoIP has since enabled business features such as advanced call distribution and integration with customer relationship management (CRM) systems that streamline operations. Using IP PBX (private branch exchange) system for business offers savings in
• Infrastructure. The same network used for data communications is used for VoIP, removing the need for separate subscriptions to telephone and Internet service providers.
• Hardware. VoIP phone extensions are cheaper and the system can use standard desktop PCs and dual-mode cell phones as interfaces, removing the need to buy separate equipment.
• Call costs. Local calls are usually charged a flat rate while cost for long distance calls are just a fraction of the international toll rates for wired lines. This is fantastic for businesses with out-of-state or international branches or clientele, as the telephone costs are lowered significantly in VoIP.
• Maintenance cost. Data networks are less expensive to maintain compared to wired telephone systems. Adding new extensions, moving existing units and changing configurations are a lot easier and there is no need to employ separate personnel to maintain the data network and telephone system.
In addition to savings, broadband telephony offers scalability and flexibility to adapt to future needs and developments. VoIP can be configured easily to what the business presently requires, and the system can be ramped up or scaled down whenever necessary.
Disadvantages of VoIP
In the early days, adoption of VoIP was hampered by unreliable Internet connections that result in lost data packets or non-sequential arrival of packets. The missing or jumbled packets make voice calls liable for momentary audio interruptions and less than ideal call quality.
Current broadband implementations have Quality of Service protocols that aim to ensure more reliable VoIP connections, through tagging and prioritizing time-critical packets, although there is still no 100% guarantee that dropouts won’t happen. Moreover, web problems such as DoS attacks and hacking can hamper VoIP calls.
Power failures, calamities and other regional conditions may restrict availability of Internet connection, and consequently, VoIP calling. Most service providers rely on mains electrical supply to power routers and modems, and VoIP systems without backup power supply can become useless during power outages.
Today’s VoIP systems have indeed come along way. The rising VoIP migration of companies fuels further research and development, and we can look forward to more interesting features as service providers try to outdo each other in offering innovations.