So, what is VoIP (pronounced v-oy-p)? VoIP is Voice over Internet Protocol. It goes by other names like voice over broadband, cloud IP telephony, IP communications, and cloud IP phone service. No matter the name, the way it works is the same. Instead of traveling over traditional telephone lines, phone calls move across the internet.
One reason you might be thinking of moving to VoIP is the potential cost savings. In a legacy phone system, telephone landlines (also referred to as Private Branch Exchange – PBX technology) connect the phones to an on-site computer or Central Processing Unit. You’re probably paying for each of those lines, so the more lines, the greater the monthly expenditure. Costs can start to rise if the PBX running the show has to be upgraded — or worse, replaced — so you can add new users and new features to your system. Have more than one location? All those costs are multiplied. If you’re considering moving your office, you’ll have to deal with the expense of removing the old wiring and lines plus the PBX, and then setting up the whole system again in your new location.
VoIP is the cloud-based alternative to the traditional phone system. While saving money is always an important reason to consider making the move to VoIP, it’s not the only benefit. Especially now with so many employees telecommuting, VoIP’s ability to support video chat and group video calls can keep your teams and your customers connected. Another benefit is scalability. As your business expands and you need to add more users, it’s a fairly easy process to manage from a web-based dashboard. The dashboard also allows you to add and delete calling features on the fly.
If the pros of VoIP technology have you intrigued, what are your next steps? Evaluating your current and projected needs is a great place to start. For example, you might be planning on moving your current phone support to chat. Another question to ask: realistically, how important are video conferencing and similar data-hog features to your business now and in the future?
Because VoIP calls will travel over the internet through your existing data network, answers to these and other usage questions will help you understand if your current data network can keep up with the extra demands of VoIP. Right now, your network handles things like querying databases, downloading files, and serving up web pages. When you add VoIP, competition heats up for the available bandwidth. When VoIP loses, call quality can rapidly deteriorate, resulting in hang ups or garbled conversations filled with static.
A Virtual Local Area Network (VLAN) and Quality of Service (QoS) can solve the competition problem by prioritizing voice over other data traffic. If your data needs aren’t that taxing to your network, at the very least, you might need to invest in some beefier cabling that can handle the increased network traffic VoIP creates.
As you consider your budget as well as your current and future needs, including any possible relocations, you may feel that a hybrid solution would be best for you. A hybrid solution can help you save money, improve quality and operate more efficiently if you’re not quite ready for a complete transition to VoIP. A hybrid solution incorporates features of both VoIP and PBX technology to create a blended system.
If you have questions about which approach is optimal for your business, our team of experts would be happy to help you determine your options. To learn more, call to schedule a site survey with our HIG professionals!