Voice over IP (VOIP) has arrived. VOIP is a technology that converts the sound of your voice into digital information, and sends your calls over a computer network. At the other end it is converted back into sound.
Because of easy availability and low cost of internet service, there are countless vendors selling VOIP as a panacea for business voice communication. Because it comes at a lower financial cost, many businesses jump to implement this new technology without closely considering the trade-offs, often because the vendors selling VOIP do not want you to know that there are trade-offs. VOIP is also very attractive because VOIP systems can include many terrific, valuable features that increase productivity, like Unified Communications. VOIP can be a great solution for business, but like with most other things, you get what you pay for.
Inexpensive VOIP At What Cost?
Imagine for a moment you are in your car on I-77. This is your voice call. When there is no traffic, you are happy and cruising along smoothly. But then traffic slows down. There’s congestion at a big intersection (like with 485), or worse yet, an accident (something on the internet breaks). What happens? Your calls have quality issues. It sounds like you are in a tin can, or the call breaks up intermittently, or it just drops all together.
With VOIP, this is fairly common and happens because the internet was not designed for real-time data delivery, which is necessary for good voice quality. The internet was designed to be massively redundant. This design serves the movement of data very well. Voice, however, doesn’t perform nearly as well in this environment as plain old telephone service (POTS).
VOIP services where you have only a phone at your office, and where your calls go over the internet to a hosted server (like RingCentral), while inexpensive, will likely be disappointing. You must ask yourself how much you are willing to tolerate call quality issues when talking with your customers. Because it is not a question of if you will experience calling issues with these simple and cheap solutions, it is only a question of how often and how severe.
A Better Way With VOIP
The good news is that there are methods for getting all the benefits of VOIP technology without sacrificing call quality. The most reliable approach is to have a managed internet connection that uses Quality of Service (QoS) prioritization to send your calls ahead of normal data. This is like the proposed I-77 toll lanes. You pay extra so that your calls get priority on the network.
Another approach comes from vendors who intelligently monitor and manage your calls route over the internet. This approach is like having many alternate routes programmed into your car’s GPS. If there is an accident on I-77, maybe Park Rd. or Providence Road would be a better route. With this approach, the vendor watches traffic on all routes in real time and picks the fastest route for your calls. This approach mitigates most of risk of poor call quality that comes with simple VOIP.
We at Proactive IT have been VOIP skeptics in the past. We are not skeptical anymore. We have battled with many VOIP vendors over the past two years who have set unrealistic expectations with our mutual customers, and we have learned how to engineer VOIP solutions for the best possible results. We are now VOIP proponents, but you must be ready to invest properly to get great call quality, or be prepared to accept voice quality issues in exchange for cost savings promised by simple VOIP.
Do you want to learn more about VOIP services and whether they would be the right fit for your business? Click Here and submit our contact form or Call us at 704-464-3075.