Voice over IP or VoIP has had a bit of a bad rap. Firstly people use terms like IP Telephony, VoIP and Voice over the Internet interchangeably.
In my mind there are distinct differences.
Business grade VoIP services are provided over an IP connection but that is where the comparison with voice over the internet ends (IP is the transport protocol). Undoubtedly we’ve all experienced the variable quality of a voice over the internet service on our home PC. As there’s no way to prioritise traffic or guarantee the quality of the internet connection, any Quality of Service (QoS) goes out the window as soon as it hits the public internet. No wonder people cite concerns with reliability when they talk about voice over IP.
Superior business grade VoIP services can be reliably provided over a private converged network environment, leaving you in control of the network end-to-end. Voice can be prioritised over other applications; internal calls need never leave your own network environment and calls to external parties should be handed over, uncompressed on high quality connections by your service provider.
Many customers believe a separate access for voice and data is more reliable – yet both of these services more than likely appear on the same cable into the customer’s premises and are transported on the same backhaul network by their service provider. A premium voice provider will have redundant voice switches just the same as the traditional telco.
Power failure is another common concern. For a business running a PBX if the power fails and they don’t have a backup supply this will be an issue in any case.
Having hopefully dispelled some of the common concerns people have about VoIP let’s look at some of the benefits. Collaboration tools, presence information and the ability to video have been embraced by our own organisation after implementing Lync; increasing productivity and reducing cost.
I have seen a number of customers who have quite happily paid for multiple IDSN Primary Rates (60 trunks) for the past few years and when they have migrated to a VoIP based solution that provides better visibility and reporting on trunk utilisation, they discover that they only require half the number of trunks they had previously paid for. How can this be?Quite simple, their voice environment had changed significantly over the past few years. Fax is used less often and each fax machine had had its own dedicated line. In addition, calls to and from mobile phones also don’t use a dedicated line, so the utilisation of the customers fixed voice network has often dropped significantly and yet the network had not changed in response to this. This is a logical but often less obvious benefit.If implemented correctly over a quality converged private network environment that uses the Quality of Service to ensure application performance; there is no reason not to enjoy all the benefits enabled by VoIP.