Voice over IP (VoIP) phones have been around for a while now, but with so many maturing technologies now in place, we may see significant growth in VoIP usage in the near future. According to Market Watch, “Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) market is projected to surpass USD 55 billion by 2025.” Just like the traditional phone created by Alexander Graham Bell, the main purpose of a VoIP phone is to carry a voice conversation. But VoIP does a whole lot more. In this article we will look at the advantages and disadvantages of voice over IP.
What is VoIP?
The analog telephone dates back to Bell’s patent way back in 1876. The Plain Old Telephone System (POTS) connected phone users by creating circuits that were initially patched by human operators. In later years these connections were controlled by digital circuitry. VoIP (often pronounce “voip”) doesn’t need any of that underlying infrastructure. It runs over the internet.
Back in the 90s, telecom engineers still spoke about voice and data as two distinct skill sets. Nortel voice engineers were experts with the DMS equipment, while data engineers mastered the multiservice switch. In the world of VoIP, those distinctions are gone. That’s because voice calls done with VoIP are simply another form of traffic running over data connections (voice over data). In a similar way, we are no longer dependent on analog television sets because we can readily watch just about anything now on the internet (video over data).
Advantages of VoIP
The most notable advantage of voice over IP is reduced cost. In the early days of VoIP, that was not true. Initial VoIP systems were expensive to purchase, install, maintain, and use. Nowadays, VoIP is much easier on the bank account than traditional voice lines. Take “long-distance calls”, for instance. Anyone of a certain age knows that calling long distance used to be a big deal, and it was easy to run up a big bill very quickly. With VoIP, anything in North American is treated as a local call, and overseas calls are a fraction of the cost of traditional landlines.
It also helps that VoIP phones are portable, allowing you to work from any internet connection. Using the same number, an employee who moves to an office in the next building will just need to reconnect the VoIP phone to the internet in the new office — with no other changes required. An entrepreneur who wants to work from South America for a week can do so easily, and his clients will never know the difference (unless he tells them where he is).
VoIP phones are practically do-it-yourself systems. If a user wants to add a feature, it’s just a matter of a few settings in the device software. VoIP phones are easy to install, configure, and maintain. In the old days, you would contact Ma Bell to dispatch a technician or schedule a service change just for simple requests. VoIP is much easier.
With the cost advantage, robust feature set, portability, and ease of use, there’s no wonder many businesses would want to set up VoIP in their offices as soon as possible. Or would they? Let’s take a look at a few possible reasons why they might have some doubts.
Disadvantages of VoIP
The real vulnerability of VoIP is clear if you think about it a minute. The same internet that gives VoIP its power and versatility also makes it vulnerable to outages and sound quality issues. Your voice over IP system is only as good as the internet connection over which it runs. If the internet goes out, so does the phone. If the data connection is very congested, voice calls can suffer.
Emergency 911 will also not work on VoIP if the internet is out. If you lose power or a connection, you won’t be able to get any emergency notifications on your VoIP phone. That’s why it’s important to have some kind of backup system in place.
Another potential drawback of VoIP is in the pricing package. There have been some providers who have overpromised or added hidden costs to the bill after the service was started. VoIP service buyers are advised to always read the fine print.
These disadvantages, however, should not be a deal breaker for those interested in VoIP. Without too much trouble, you can compensate for the drawbacks so that you can capitalize on VoIP’s advantages. Titan Tech can help you get the most of VoIP and other Cincinnati IT services.
The future of VoIP is promising as more businesses recognize what it has to offer. Don’t be scared off by the voice quality. The stories you’ve heard about sound delay, dropouts, or other sound quality issues were likely because the underlying internet connection had problems. If you go with VoIP, make sure you have plenty of bandwidth to support it. If you want to learn more about how VoIP can work for your business in Cincinnati, Dayton, or surrounding areas, call us a Titan Tech today.