BY CRAIG STEPHENSON
Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) is the
top of mind request for most of our customers,
whether it’s to upgrade to a better system, or
for a first time install, but the “newest thing”
isn’t always the best product for your business.
The term VoIP is being thrown around as
a catch-all for many levels of service and it’s
important to understand what you are actually
getting when you are offered a VoIP Solution.
Within your business, a true VoIP system
uses your existing network to manage both your
computer traffic and your phone traffic on the
same data lines, therefore saving you the cost of
additional cable runs. This is best implemented
in new construction, or for companies upgrading
their entire network infrastructure. In this
instance, integrating your telephone service over
your company network can save you money;
but if not implemented correctly, can bring
your network to a crawl and introduce a layer
of complexity that can impact your call quality,
and ultimately your customers.
These integrations need to be planned and
implemented by experienced professionals with
a solid telephony and networking background.
Testing the existing bandwidth is required prior
to installing a VoIP system.
Some service providers will sell VoIP or Session
Initiation Protocol (SIP) where the data line
coming into your building caries both your voice
and data over the same line. You may still have
the old digital phone system you purchased five
years ago. However, the service provider will install a converter so your phone system can send
your phone calls through those new data lines.
Although technically a VoIP system, this is
not an end-to-end solution and you still have
separate phone and data lines within your
office, and you retain your old phone system.
This option can save some companies money
on their monthly phone bill, so don’t be quick
to dismiss this as a viable option. Ask your
technology provider for an assessment of your
carrier services so you can determine the actual
savings you could receive.
The last option is fully hosted VoIP. With this
type of system, the phone on your desk connects
directly to the internet, and ultimately
to software in the cloud, which manages your
With a large number of the hosted services
currently in the marketplace, your call quality
is at the mercy of the internet. Once that call
leaves your network, you may have one call
that is crystal clear, while the next call sounds
like you are connected to someone hiking in
the Adirondacks, talking on a cell phone from
the 1990s. There are, however, companies that
have refined the technology to manage and
monitor the call quality. These companies will
provide guaranteed reliability, so be sure to do
your research before considering a hosted VoIP
provider. This application is best for companies
with multiple locations across geographically
The key consideration in any VoIP solution
is to have a network audit to determine your
current status, and the appropriate bandwidth
necessary to implement a VoIP solution.
Understanding the different flavors of VoIP
will help you decide which, if any, is the best
option for you.
VoIP systems are perfect for many of today’s
business needs; however, the current premise based
phone systems available today allow for
hybrid solutions that could provide you with
Stephenson is sales and marketing manager
at Tech II Business Services Inc.
Photo Courtesy Tech II Business Services