It may seem intimidating to research and decide on a new phone system whether you are buying new or migrating from an existing system. Different types of access to dial tone, feature functionality and providers are all considerations that have changed a lot in the past decade. Here is the first in a series to help you ascertain the best technology fit for your business.
What is VoIP?
VoIP adds a lot of flexibility to how you use the phone as a business tool (rather than just taking or making calls) and is one of the prime reasons to consider making a change.
First, it is important to differentiate the premises-based VoIP solutions from the network access VoIP solutions. The former consists of the actual system capabilities and telephones sets, also referred to as endpoints. Some systems are IP only, others are hybrid while the older models had no IP capabilities at all. The latter refers to access to any off-site locations which include your customers, suppliers, branch offices, with “dial tone”.
VoIP requires a data infrastructure which can be designed to encompass all traffic or can be voice and data segregated. Pure IP phone systems generally have separate ports or devices to connect to the analogue network, known as the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) or as Plain Old Telephone Service (POTS). Switches are used to connect IP phones to the main appliance(s) or server(s). Hybrid systems connect to the data network for special applications and have ports for the PSTN and for digital and analogue phones; some can be configured as pure IP systems.
If you have an IT person on staff or on contract, the pure IP solution may be right for you. If not, hybrid solutions give companies the opportunity to try VoIP solutions while feeling more secure with a “known quantity” factor.
In either case you should consider using VoIP trunks to access the PSTN. Here again there are two options. A Public, unsecured channel to the PSTN via internet access is not an optimal way to use this technology as it is unsecured and not optimized for voice traffic. Any data being sent at the same time as voice will clash and cause problems such as jitter and delay. In order to avoid this and reap the benefit of lower-cost SIP trunking, Internet Service Providers (ITSP’s) and other network providers are able to provide secured access to Virtual Private Networks (VPN’s). They do this with secure, controlled routing and firewall capabilities that enable Quality of Service (QoS) for clear and private voice calls.
Why should I consider VoIP?
VoIP enabled systems allow for Unified Communications that provide much greater flexibility in how you use the system to manage your business, your customer relationships and your employees. Long distance charges can be eliminated for intercompany locations. Defined Call Routing and One-number access makes it easier to reach you whether you are in the office, at home or available by mobile. You can enable Instant Messaging and Presence so that your employees can keep track of who is available to quickly and easily reach out to each other when assisting customers with inquiries, increasing customer satisfaction. Easily implement Work-at-Home solutions for sought-after employees or for emergency coverage. Future-proof your business by knowing that functionalities you may want to implement later on are more likely to be possible with VoIP.
Choosing the right partner to help you navigate these choices is key to ensuring that your design is correct for your business needs today and in future. SE Telecom has worked hard to create a proven track record in helping customers navigate these technologies through open consultation and by providing choices relevant to individual business models. We work with several ITSP and network providers to insure a smooth implementation and reliable ongoing support.
Vivian (Viv) Hemsley
Senior Telecom Consultant