As a business owner or decision-maker, you know that communication is absolutely vital to the successful operation of your company. If your phone company isn’t doing enough to keep you, your employees, and your clients in touch, you may need to consider alternatives. One business communication solution you should consider is Voice over IP. But before making the leap from a landline to VoIP, take a look through some frequently asked questions about this new technology.
What is VoIP?
VoIP stands for Voice over Internet Protocol. This relatively new technology allows phone calls to be made over local area networks (LAN), wide area networks (WAN), or via an internet connection. Unlike a traditional phone line, VoIP can carry multiple conversations and data types over a single line, making it an efficient mode of carrying conversations, information, and data between multiple locations.
How does VoIP work?
Voice over IP converts voice audio into data packets and sends them through an internet connection or a network between locations, allowing multiple conversations, video, data, and messages to be carried over a single line at the same time.
Think of it this way: say an office with multiple floors orders several different pizzas. If the pizza is delivered slice by slice to different floors, from the bottom floor to the upper floors, the food is going to get cold. It is more efficient to put the orders together in boxes, even if different people are getting different slices, and send the boxes up by floor. In the same way, VoIP gives you “boxes” to send multiple different kinds of information at the same time.
VoIP vs. Landline for Business
Landlines: Advantages and Disadvantages
Traditional landlines either work on individual lines (the slice-by-slice method in the pizza metaphor) or through a Private Branch Exchange (PBX) system. A PBX system allows for features such as call transfer, intercom, call waiting, and phone directories. These tend to cost at least $50 per month per line after taxes and fees, plus the cost of the handsets and the initial installation investment. A sophisticated PBX system installation with all the bells and whistles can cost thousands of dollars. On the plus side, traditional landlines do have excellent sound quality and you never have to worry about losing communication during a power outage or crowding your bandwidth with phone calls, internet browsing, and e-mails.
VoIP: The Pros and Cons
Pros of Voice-Over IP
VoIP, because it works over the internet, can cost significantly less than a traditional landline service. Your savings depend on what sort of VoIP service you choose. Some only allow you to make calls to others with VoIP systems, while others will allow you to make calls to anyone with a phone or PC. PC to PC calls are typically free, and often any VoIP to VoIP calls are free as well. VoIP calls to traditional phone lines tend to cost a bit more, but they still usually add up to a lower cost than landline services.
VoIP is also a portable and versatile phone system; the IP address is built into the devices, so you can typically take your VoIP phone with you and use it wherever a broadband internet connection is available. Some VoIP providers also offer web interfaces that can support calls anywhere in the world with an internet connection. VoIP also can be used to support data sharing, screen sharing, and video calling.
Plus, VoIP systems are no more difficult to use than traditional phones, and they can even be added to traditional phones through the use of an adapter.
Cons of Voice-Over IP
VoIP might not have the same sound quality as landlines. With newer generation systems, there are lower bandwidth requirements for VoIP, but it is still dependent on your internet’s speed and stability. If data can’t travel quickly enough, there can be slight delays during real-time calls.
Also, if the data packets arrive to the recipient out of order, the real-time call could have a second or two of silence while the data is reassembled. As long as you have an internet connection capable of handling VoIP, and you aren’t running one hundred calls at once along with internet browsing, e-mail, and other internet activities, the call quality should be good and it shouldn’t crowd your bandwidth.
There are also no real standards among VoIP systems, and some systems are proprietary, requiring that calls need to be made with two phones using the same system. In addition, VoIP doesn’t work without electricity. If there is a power outage, the internet tends to go out as well, which means that voice over IP cannot function. Finally, VoIP cannot properly dial 911. It does not allow location identification through a phone number or cell tower, so the 911 system does not know to which local 911 dispatch center to connect you.
Should I Switch to a VoIP System?
In all honesty, whether or not you switch from a landline to a voice over IP system is entirely up to you. VoIP has plenty of benefits that could really help your bottom line and your efficiency, but there are a few downsides that might give you pause. The 911 caveat may be a bit unnerving, but most everyone has a cell phone nowadays. The biggest problems may be the lack of operation during a power outage and the sound quality if your bandwidth is overburdened. There’s nothing you can really do about the former, but, unless power outages happen frequently in your area, it shouldn’t be much of a problem. If you are a business with decent internet, VoIP could be a viable, money-saving communications solution for you.
How do I switch to VoIP?
Customer 1st Communications offers multiple business communications solutions through VoIP that provide high-quality, low-cost phone services to your company. If you would like to find out how these systems can revolutionize your business communications, contact us today for a free consultation.