VoIP - Equipment or Service?
Benefits of VoIP:
everyone who is logged into the system is capable of receiving and originating calls. If an employee is at a remote office in Seattle and a call comes into the corporate headquarters in Chicago, the call can be directed to the employee in Seattle just as if that person were in Chicago. The use of the corporate communication resources such as voice mail, automated attendant and email are all centralized simplifying all support and maintenance.
There are going to be choices in how your VoIP system is implemented. Most PBX systems are owned by the user. Some enterprises opt for Centrex; which is a service of the local telephone company very similar to an onsite PBX. The vast majority of enterprises choose to own/lease their own equipment. In the VoIP market, you may have the same choice. The names may be a little different but the choice is the same.
Enterprise owned IP-PBX Equipment is much the same as owning traditional PBX equipment. The comparison to IP Centrex is identical to the past where the customer owned solution is usually perceived as more flexible and less expensive to operate. When there are disruptions in the Internet or power systems, most users prefer to own their own equipment to add to the options in disaster recovery. If the Internet service gets disrupted for any reason, an IP PBX is still connected to the PSTN and this would not affect the flow of non-Internet call traffic.
IP Centrex is a service that is purchased from an IP Centrex provider. It will deliver similar benefits to an on-site PBX without the burden of owning the equipment.
Cost reduction in operating a VoIP system covers just about all areas of the business.
When calls flow over the Internet, long distance charges are avoided. This is great for remote workers who can stay logged into the office all the time without incurring any additional charges.
With a VoIP system, all system administration functions are performed on the network usually through a browser based administration program. This means that the system can be modified from anywhere if required.
Advantages of VoIP
From a purely technical sense, one must consider the way the PSTN (Public Service Telephone Network) handles telephone calls now. Each call is set up and delivered from a pair of dedicated copper wires from the caller to the called party. This creates a dedicated physical connection for a single call with extremely good quality. The technology is sufficient to carry one call at a time over the pair of dedicated copper wires. (We are keeping it simple here folks; don't worry about TDM for now)
VoIP packetizes the voice turning it into data packets. These packets are then sent to the network. The same copper wire is now capable of carrying significantly more than one conversation. The same device used to send voice is also capable of sending other packetized information simultaneously like data, video and instant messages. So at the very least VoIP is a much more efficient medium to transport voice, and at the very best, will produce a much richer experience for the user when one considers the enhanced features of video and instant messaging.
The practicality of VoIP in your business depends on several variables. VoIP can be deployed with little or no cost, or can be an elaborate application designed with your specific needs in mind. You either are looking for a new telecommunications system or you want to enhance the one you have. Deploying VoIP does not necessarily mean trashing your old PBX. Some manufacturers have VoIP enhancements that may be a reasonable alternative to completely throwing out the old system. A legacy PBX will generally have a massive feature set that most VoIP system can’t match right now. Most of those features usually go unused, but if you rely on some of them, make sure that you can still get the functionality in a new system.
VoIP systems operate on a LAN. This is a little different than the legacy PBX systems. The legacy PBX systems (Any non-VoIP system is now referred to as a legacy system) usually work when power goes out because they are simple to back up and all of the telephones get their power from the PBX. In a VoIP system, to get that type of redundancy, you need back up power for all of your LAN equipment, plus consider how you will power the IP telephones during a power outage. Some IP telephones are powered from Power Over Ethernet (POE). This adds reliability not unlike the reliability of a legacy PBX.” Power Over Ethernet” will add to the cost of a VoIP system when compared to a traditional PBX.
Over time, legacy PBX’s will all be replaced with VoIP systems. The real world consideration is whether or not you want to gradually migrate to new VoIP features over time or step right into it immediately.
Be sure to consider the underlying technology. SIP is the standard that the industry is embracing. At the very least, if considering a solution, be sure to inquire if it is SIP compliant.
All calls are Peer to Peer. This is a big advantage over the traditional PSTN. The call is set up by the VoIP server then the call flows between the two endpoints. All of the voice or video traffic is direct between the two endpoints reducing the congestion at the server.
Instead of separate wiring for telephones and separate wiring for data, all data and voice are on the LAN. There is usually plenty of bandwidth available on a well-designed LAN.
VoIP applications can take advantage of presence management. This is a function of the system that allows users to set how other users view their presence on the system. Most systems have tremendous flexibility. This is not too different from using the “do not disturb” button on your legacy PBX telephone, but it really comes into its own when using a soft phone.
Since it is apparent that all communications will be IP based within the next 10 years, it makes good sense to begin the shift toward VoIP as soon as practical. Investing now in a VoIP solution that provides interoperability with the new technologies that are available over the next several years makes a lot of sense.
Instant Messaging is a great corporate tool when used properly. With a VoIP system, Instant Messaging can be limited to corporate business eliminating some of the security issues associated with public Instant Messaging sites and provides complete control to management.
Video sessions can be set up between endpoints.