VoIP today is known as the number of technologies and methodologies that form an IP telephone network. The number of technologies, brands and options offered, can cause confusion to the customer. In this article we demystify VoIP facts. So are you afraid of VoIP? What are the taboos you should break ?
- VoIP offers FREE CALLS.
Do you ever buy fuel for free? VoIP is free indeed for local and remote extensions. That means you may call all local numbers in the premises for free. Additionally you may call remote extensions or in other words devices that are connected to the PBX (core of your VoIP system) directly or through other remote PBXs. These calls are free. Any other calls to the rest of the world is charged, unless you have a plan that offers, for example, free local calls.
- VoIP is CHEAP.
That depends on you. Local, national and international calls are charged. Yes this true. Once you converge to VoIP you never go back. If you really want to save money, you will have to find a plan suitable for your needs. For example if you often call Russia and find a dealer with cheap Russia calls then this is a deal. If you find a local provider that offer free local and national calls for 5 euros (which is cheaper than current plan at 29 euros/per month) this is a deal.
- CHEAP VoIP is awesome.
No its not. When choosing a cheap provider as a consumer you will not face many problems. If you are running a business though you should be a bit more careful. Always ask if the provider offers DTMF. I will not go into details of what DTMF is. All you should know is you need it when you call other companies and have to listen to automated responder and then make a choice by pressing 3. If you do not have DTMF the IVR will not “hear” your choice. Same applies to CLI, which is the feature that shows your number to the anyone you are trying to call. Especially today this is important for companies to show their number. If you cannot find the person you are looking for, most probably he will find your missed call and ring you back. So maybe you don’t want to miss that call.
- CHEAP VoIP offers HIGH QUALITY voice calls.
This is not always true. Telecom industry is based on the G.711 codec that (in short) packetizes analogue signal to digital and transfers it to the far end. You should know that cheap calls may use G.729 codec instead of G.711. The difference is that G.711 has a rate of 80k/sec while low bandwidth codecs like G.729 use only 20k/sec or even less. Now that’s happening to save bandwidth (which is good), but also low rate means degraded voice quality. My advice is to check and get a demo before you buy. Especially in multilingual discussion over the phone the situation will become a bit tricky if the voice quality is not acceptable. Additionally note that G.729 license has a cost and is charged per concurrent call. Finally do call a few times your favorite number (especially the international ones). Ask someone to be there and always answer your call. Check if you are always getting an answer from the people on far end. If you find out there are failed calls (no answer), this is a sign you should not go for it. It means that your call fails. In other words you are wasting your time because : A) You have to call a few times to get through B) You are wasting your money as I have seen cases with answered charged calls but with no sound (media) and C) you are not always sure that your call is ringing on the far end.
- Expensive RATES guarantee a high QUALITY VoIP service.
This statement is not absolutely true. VoIP offers an awesome feature, which is called Least Cost Routing (LCR). That means you may choose different route for each destination. For example you may choose a local French company when calling Paris and a Cheap Canadian plan for calling Quebec customers. If you have local branches it is advisable to install local PBXs to each one and connect them to you HQ. And this is how you save money using VoIP technology.
- VoIP has quality ISSUES.
This is a big lie. Today VoIP has no quality issues. Do not get confused. If your Internet line goes up and down you should not blame your VoIP equipment. If the remote device is using 3G for IP connectivity with limited bandwidth for G.711 then the call is suffering but not because of VoIP. This is happening due to poor implementation. It is wise to go for a low bandwidth codec. Try speex, g.729 or other and see if it suits your needs. Its all about how the VoIP scenario is deployed and what kind of equipment you are using. Do not assume that free or cheap is always easy and good. This is the number one reason when something goes wrong.
- VoIP capital INVESTMENT is high and ROI is slow.
This is a false statement. Yes you may spend money to get it done but you will get the money back by saving from international calls, electricity bills and calls that are free of charge. Think of it as added value for your business as it provides resilience in case of a failure of legacy telecom lines and guess what; The OPEX expense is a lot less than you expect.
- VoIP is so nice and EASY.
A friend of mine will change my old fashioned telephones to VoIP. I don’t want to offend your friend, but better not. Go with professionals because they are much more experienced. They have seen things that your friend is not aware of. They do know how not to compromise your telecom network and how to minimized the risk of getting hacked.
- I am AFRAID of security. Is VoIP SECURE?
This is the one million dollar for the tech community. Security may be an issue. Yes you can trust your voice network if it has been built from professionals that they know what they are doing. My advice is to invest in Session Border Controller (SBC). This is the most essential hardware that will protect your network from many different threats. Even if you do not have the budget for an SBC at the beginning you should not be afraid. There are techniques that encrypt signaling and media (voice). Ask the company to go for TLS, SRTP and always use VPN. Strong passwords are a must as well as a firewall. Monitor your network 24/7/365 with NMS and notifications and block off-hour calls or destinations you are not using and especially high rate destinations (or even ask your provider to block those). If you are not sure avoid Wi-Fi connectivity to your voice network as well as remote connections. Professionals will tell you how to avoid pitfalls and what to do (or not) for the deployed network. Do not forget to ask your VoIP providers for secure links and do prefer peer-to-peer connections. Always patch and update. Never forget the basic security rules.
- I don’t want to CHANGE my number. That is why we cannot go VoIP.
World is changing. Don’t get left behind. You may keep your numbers, lines and existing plans. Even better you may use legacy phones. Installing gateways can direct your calls to mobile or other TDM equipment. If you migrate to VoIP though it is wise to get a couple of VoIP incoming numbers. This will save you in case your legacy line is out of order. Also you may use those to make outbound concurrent calls.
- Do I need an in-house administrator for maintaining my VoIP network?
Do you need insurance and a service plan for your car? In most cases you do need engineers that can keep up with technology and provide you solutions. In most of the cases administrators will let you know about possible flaws, improvements and will save you money and time so yes, go for it.
- I want VoIP, videoconference, remote extensions and also to use my tablet for calling the company and …
Yes you can do all that. Never try to push people finish it asap. It is obvious that professionals have their methods, which takes time as they ensure that everything is working before going for the next step. So be patient and you will have all your toys ready in time. A classic approach (especially for large environments) is to make a slow transition adding new devices (replacing the old ones) and not to go for a complete cut-off of the old pbx in one day.
VoIP is an investment. You may get really fast ROI when you plan it right. You may even save on electricity bills, as most of the modern technology is green. VoIP is secured when it is deployed from professionals. It is flexible and offers a number of options like presence that will save you time. Did you know that you could setup a led to change color when a remote phone is switched on? This could be a salesman’s mobile phone, who is traveling abroad. When the led goes green you can press it and call him/her.
Final answer is: Do not afraid of using the VoIP technology. It is safe and offers a philosophy (as well as features) that will promote your work and maximize your productivity.