VoIP for Business

Open your favorite browser and type in some combination of the follow phrases: "Making sense of", "Demystifying", "Understanding" and "VoIP". What is returned is a plethora of blog entries and articles from the early 2000's. Does this mean that nothing has changed since 2005 or has everything changed?

First, let's all refresh our memory and standardize terminology.

VoIP = Voice over Internet Protocol

Introduced in the mid 90's with early adopters switching in the early 2000's, VoIP works by converting voice conversations into a digital signal (IP packets) that travels across the Internet or private IP network. If a non-VoIP phone number was dialed, the signal was converted to a regular telephone signal and then sent to its destination via the 100+ year old PSTN (Public Switched Telephone Network). Since VoIP's invention, investment globally has focused on the elements which make up the Internet and the access to the Internet by both businesses and consumers. Service providers are following suit by focusing their Capital Expenditures on increasing the productivity and performance of their IP networks to better service the increase in IP traffic.

What does this mean for businesses today?

Efficiency

Whether you have made the leap or not, businesses now have several options which start a voice conversation as a digital signal such as HPBX (Hosted PBX or Hosted IP Telephony) or premises-based IP phone systems. These allow businesses with multiple locations to keep intra-company calls IP from start to finish and increase productivity by creating a sense of a single enterprise versus a series of small independent locations.

Cost Reductions

IP-based solutions combine voice and data over the same transport medium. This allows a company to converge internal networks into one single switching platform. The network is then served with a single connection to their service provider in which bandwidth is dynamically allocated between voice and data at the customer's request. The customer's service is no longer subject to rigid channel assignments in which a single channel can only be used for voice or data and not both thus eliminating the need for separate voice access and data access.

Productivity

Another key benefit of VoIP is the integration of enhanced features and Unified Communications. IP-based services allow a user to access many call control features via user friendly web portals which allow users to access call logs, adjust features, listen to voicemails and forward calls. Advanced applications such as Music on Hold, Auto attendants and CRM integration have also been made available to all businesses by removing the complexity and cost which were associated in the past.

Performance

While VoIP service has improved since its creation, there is one major factor that still exists. That is performance. The most successful VoIP vendors are that way because they created such costs savings that they could not be ignored despite obvious quality concerns. While this may be tolerable for the student calling home or keeping in touch with that overseas relative, businesses will not stand for anything less than toll quality voice. That is why it is important to partner with a service provider that actively prioritizes your voice traffic across the entirety of their network and does not have you simply connect to the Internet and compete with the rest of the world.

Traditional VoIP Networks

In summary, VoIP could be considered as one of the most influential inventions in the last 15 years. Whether you realize it or not, whenever you talk on your home, work or cell phone your voice is most likely converted into data packet at some point and sent over a data network. Businesses should take advantages of the many benefits VoIP provides first hand.