VoIP (Voice-over-Internet Protocol) has become popular over the last several years in phone systems and the infrastructure of the carriers that carry voice traffic.
Some key points of the technology are that the voice traffic can be carried much more efficiently with reduced physical infrastructure and fewer equipment components as potential points of failure, the management of the systems can be accomplished easily over remote distances, and functionality is greatly increased, leading to increased productivity.
Factors of Successful Implementation
A VoIP phone system uses the technology of Internet Protocol to digitally carry the voice conversations in your facility. These are carried on a private network in a single location or between multiple locations.
The same cabling you use for your data network is used to carry the voice traffic of the phone system. This immediately leads to cost savings in new and retrofit construction by having a single cabling infrastructure for voice and data. If one system goes down, the other system is not affected.
Data is not time sensitive, but voice is: If the combined voice and data traffic is more than the bandwidth capacity, then voice quality suffers. For good voice quality, the network must include a proper QoS (quality of service) plan and execution.
These two factors - bandwidth capacity constraints and lack of proper implementation of quality of service - account for a large percentage of the problems with VoIP phone systems.
Although VoIP often refers to IP telephony, it also refers to using the public Internet to carry voice traffic. When the public Internet is used, the user doesn't have the same control over the QoS as he/she does over his/her own network. This is another area that can cause problems.
VoIP Telephony: Why Would You Want It?
Here are a few key advantages of a VoIP telephone system:
- Easily connect traveling and remote workers. At home or a hotel, with a high-speed Internet connection, users can receive and make calls through their computer softphone just like at your office. Also, a cell phone can be integrated as if it's an office phone; callers ring through without knowing the location of the individual.
- "Contact center" replaces "call center." A contact center using VoIP telephony can take phone calls, faxes, e-mail, Web text chat, Web voice calls, and Web video calls in the same queue.
- Seamless extension dialing between all the locations on a private network or even over the public Internet.
- Workers can simply "log in" to the phone system from any office, and all of their phone settings are automatically provided to the phone they log in to.
- Simplified system administration through a graphical user interface (GUI) to remotely make changes to all VoIP phones and systems at all locations, significantly reducing maintenance costs.
- Easier telephone moves. As users pack their desk supplies and plants, they can also grab their telephones. In their new location, they simply reconnect, and the personal settings move with the individual to dramatically reduce the cost of moves.
Explore the strategic business applications of VoIP telephony. It allows for much greater functionality, increased productivity, and enhanced customer service, and has lower costs than older technologies.
Ed Mass is president of Mass Strategic Communications Inc., a St. Louis-based telecommunications consulting firm.