March 14, 2016
Don’t Shy Away from VoIP
Voice over IP (VoIP) services are popular alternatives to traditional landlines or on-premises PBX systems. But many companies still shy away from this Internet-based service thanks to horror stories of big latency, dropped calls and poor service quality. It’s true, these solutions aren’t perfect — but here are four good reasons you shouldn’t shy away from VoIP.
As noted by Tech Target, moving to VoIP typically saves an organization 20 to 30 percent upfront since they no longer have to pay for on-site hardware, and get all server and software upgrades on the provider end for free.
One concern about long-term business VoIP usage, however, is diminishing returns on savings over time. This is due to the OpEx nature of voice over IP solutions: You pay a consistent rate per month — which avoids the “spiky” nature of CapEx investments — but has no finite endpoint unless you terminate the VoIP contract. Initial savings are just the tip of the iceberg, however, since you also benefit from low-cost international calling, the ability to add features and services on-demand and fully adopt a unified communications (UC) approach that sees regular calling, video conferencing and multimedia streaming all covered under a single solution.
According to Information Age, one of the biggest drawbacks associated with VoIP technology is hit-or-miss reliability. This is a justifiable concern: If service interruptions occur, the results could range from short-term productivity loss to long-term customer dissatisfaction.
Solving this problem comes in two parts. First, make sure your VoIP provider has a track record of superb service and reliability — for example, best-in-class SIP trunking. Next, take a hard look at your internal network infrastructure. Do existing network appliances, LANs andWANs support the kind of throughput you need? If not, start by investing in network tech before switching to VoIP.
One key benefit of VoIP is the ability to “add” new features as required without the need to upgrade existing hardware or endure complex implementation procedures. This abundance of choice can be perceived as a drawback, however, since it’s easy for companies to overspend on features they don’t need or that don’t deliver long-term ROI. The solution? Start with a plan. For example, one key area of growth for many companies is mobile. Since voice over IP solutions naturally support mobile devices, start your rollout there. Opt for basic plans and features, but make sure your entire mobile and local network is connected via VoIP. In six months, re-evaluate and determine which value-added features offer the best return.
VoIP-Info calls out one of the biggest “why VoIP?” worries: Call quality. Two of the worst culprits here are jitter and latency. The first makes conversations sound choppy and out-of-second while the second causes a delay between speaker and listener, which often manifests as an echo. Both are tied to the way VoIP traffic is sent — as packets of data over the Internet. If these packets are delivered out of order or are delayed by network handling, queuing or the ~200 millisecond delay associated with signals traveling halfway across the world, the results can be maddening for callers and receivers alike. But just as VoIP has evolved, so have technologies to combat these issues. Most notable is the ability to prioritize VoIP traffic using techniques including Class of Service and Multi-Protocol Label Switching. Reputable providers should proactively apply one or more of these solutions to virtually eliminate latency and jitter.
Business VoIP isn’t perfect, but the benefits far outweigh potential drawbacks — marked improvement in cost savings, reliability, flexibility and quality all come with the right provider.
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