There are few applications that have come along that are as attractive as VoIP is to a small business owner or administrator. The promise of eliminating the recurring expense of a commercial phone bill, while using the bandwidth that’s already on the books seems like a complete no-brainer for a business, but there are some pitfalls that have to be sidestepped to get the most out of a VoIP solution. Today, we will look at all the pros and cons of implementing a dedicated VoIP solution, and whether the promise of the technology matches up to the reality of deploying it.
What is VoIP?
VoIP, or voice over Internet protocol is exactly that. It is a phone system that uses your organization’s Internet connection to provide you with a phone platform and other features.
The Pros of VoIP
In theory, the pros of a VoIP solution far outweigh an enterprise-level phone system from a traditional telephone service provider. The biggest advantage a VoIP system has is the cost savings your organization will see. While there are a lot of VoIP platforms available, the amount of money you are willing to spend will be commensurate with the features you receive from your VoIP solution. Some simpler consumer VoIP systems only allow you to make calls to other people using VoIP, while the majority of the options a business would use will allow for calls to anyone.
VoIP can cost an organization a lot of money if it insists on hosting the PBX system in house, but today the reliability of the cloud-hosted VoIP solutions can deliver everything an organization needs in a telephone system at a price that’s right. Additional VoIP features like call forwarding, call waiting, three-way calling, video, and data sharing are found in most VoIP options.
Another benefit of VoIP is that it can be used from multiple phones. Not only can you use a VoIP solution from a headphone and mic hooked into your computer, you can also get phone handsets that hook up to a computer giving VoIP users a choice about how they are going to communicate while in the office. More than that, most VoIP solutions have dedicated applications that can run on mobile devices that can allow people to go mobile with their work number. This improves the ability for people to be on the move. Overall the number of benefits, for both an organization and its workers, is numerous.
The Cons of VoIP
With the laundry list of benefits, it’s hard to consider that there are some very poignant cons to consider. One is actually cost. If you want to have a PBX server that you can control, you are going to have to buy one. This can be extraordinarily expensive and on top of the hardware costs, you will have to have someone who is competent to set up the platform, another huge cost. These cost concerns can be alleviated by sticking with a cloud-hosted VoIP platform.
Another qualification you have to consider is call quality. Since VoIP is a process of turning sound into data, delivering it to the user, and transcoding it in virtual real time, some of the time the sound can be quantized and choppy, or experience lag. This is because data packets that are received sometimes aren’t in the proper order in which they were sent, a normal problem in data transmission, but when dealing with realtime calls, it can be somewhat bothersome.
These problems tend to happen when there isn’t enough bandwidth, or other networking limitations, supporting the system. As a result, an organization may be on the hook to upgrade their bandwidth if a lot of problems of sound quality happen early in the implementation. Besides sound issues, some practical issues arise with VoIP. Of course, devices supporting the VoIP services have to be on and connected to the Internet to function. The last thing to mention is that there are times when emergency services are not available on the other end of a VoIP line. This is because the location of a caller can’t be determined like it would with a traditional phone system, or cellular network. If you do have a VoIP service, make sure to have direct emergency numbers on hand to ensure you aren’t putting you or your staff in harm's way.
Deploying a VoIP system makes a lot of sense for almost every business. Does your business use VoIP, or are you thinking about it? If you are, contact the IT professionals at Emerald City Solutions and we can give you some options to help you improve your business’ communications while cutting costs. Call us today at (206) 340-1616 for more information.