5 Issues regarding VOIP

One should always understand the issues and considerations when buying any product or service. VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) is no exception to this rule.
This posting will outline the major issues relating to VOIP.

VOIP is basically transmitting packet data (voice is data) over the Internet versus traditional voice (circuit switched). The two basic advantages of VOIP are: the convergence into a single “network” of voice and data and lower costs. Given these advantages, it is not a question of “if” but “when” that VOIP will be ubiquitous.
While the use of VOIP is growing rapidly it is still a small percentage (15-20%) of overall usage in the United States. You will see reports that IPBX (Internet Private Branch Exchange-switches that handle phone calls) installed are now greater then PBXs, but that only means IPBXs that handle both traditional voice and VOIP; not the number of actual users that are deployed. So before you buy or use VOIP service, you should understand the following issues and get answers to how your selected service provider (SP) is addressing them.

1- What happens to my phones when there is a power failure? Conventional phones still work when there is a power failure, not so with VOIP.
2- What is the quality of VOIP that is provided by the SP? If they and you don’t have enough bandwidth or have high delays, you will experience congestion, gobbled or choppy phone calls.
3- Reliability of the VOIP service. Again traditional phone systems have 5 “Nines” reliability; currently VOIP has a high (relatively speaking) number of lost calls or interruptions. Find out what the SP guaranteed reliability rate is and make it part of the Service Level Agreement (SLA).
4- Security for VOIP is definitely a weakness (one major problem is 911 calls are not well addressed). If you business or usage needs to be protected, again understand the vulnerability of VOIP and how the SP is addressing this.
5- What functions does the SP that you are considering offer. Remember not all SP are created equal. Features like SLAs (have services like reliability rates, call quality, local or international calls supported), bandwidth required to utilize their service, and type of broadband (digital, cable modem, high speed dial) vary from SP to SP.

VOIP like any previous and future technology has positive and negative factors; This posting addressed the top considerations from a user’s point of view.

If you are the CMO and are considering on implementing VOIP (probably a question of when not if) do you understand the issues and potential impacts to your enterprise? Make sure you understand what is required to support the service and what the selected SP is providing. If you want to know more about VOIP or need assistance with marketing or business development for VOIP products or services, contact us at  www.firealarmmarketing.com with your request.

RHL 12/3/2009

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