What is VoIP?
VoIP is an acronym for Voice Over Internet Protocol – essentially phone over the internet.
To understand how VoIP works, it’s useful to compare it with conventional phone systems. With traditional phone systems, calls are place over a copper line using the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN). This system uses ‘circuit switched telephony which works by setting up a dedicated channel (or circuit) between two endpoints for each call. Calls using PSTN are analogue.
VoIP sends your phone calls using packet-switched telephony. Using this system, the voice information travels to its destination in individual network packets across the Internet. Everything sent over the internet is digital, including your voice in a VoIP system. A direct line connection between endpoints is not required, which is why calling over long distances using VoIP is very cheap.
A Brief History
Internet telephony is not new, in fact is has been around since about 1995. However, only recently has it become ubiquitous, and reliable enough to be a compelling option for businesses. In its infancy, VoIP was a technology with call quality and reliability issues, but these days a well-planned and implemented VoIP system can provide call quality and reliability that rivals or exceeds mobile phone or landline calls.
A major development that began in 2004 was the introduction of mass-market VoIP services for businesses and consumers, using existing broadband Internet access. This allowed subscribers to place and receive telephone calls in much the same manner as they would via the public switched telephone network (PSTN).
Pros of VoIP
There are many benefits to VoIP phones over the traditional copper line phones. One clear advantage for businesses is that VoIP phone plans often include business level features that would otherwise cost a lot of money if implemented on a traditional phone system. Features such as auto attendant, voicemail, call routing and hunt groups are all done on a software level, usually in the cloud which drives costs down.
When it comes to cost, VoIP is almost always a cheaper way to make calls than traditional phones. It’s also convenient for businesses because it can be portable. A business or employee can move the phone anywhere and keep the same number – whether it’s at a remote office, at home or routed to a mobile phone.
Cons of VoIP
To use VoIP, an Internet connection is needed. Quite simply, if a site loses internet connectivity, then you won’t be able to make or receive calls. VoIP systems also won’t work if there is a power outage unless there is a backup power source like a UPS (Uninterruptable Power Supply) or generator.
On poorly configured networks, VoIP calls can exhibit poor Quality of Service (QoS). Some configurations can cause a delay in conversations known as latency, and congested network connections can cause parts of a conversation to drop out due to packet loss. Usually VoIP phones share the same connection (and therefore bandwidth) with computers. This means heavy internet usage can affect the VoIP system in networks that are poorly configured. Fortunately, these network related issues can be rectified with proper network design, and utilisation of QoS traffic prioritisation measures.
Our Experience with VoIP
At Veracity, we ‘live IT, eat IT & breath IT’. We really do live, eat and breath the technology we promote. Our whole phone system and customer service desk runs over the internet with no hardware on site other than headsets. You can read more about our transition away from traditional phone systems here.
We also support many clients who use VoIP, and have experience troubleshooting (and solving) network and configuration related VoIP issues. Contact us on 1300 850 172 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more about our business VoIP offerings or our IT support and cloud migration services.