VoIP Phones – the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

There is a lot to consider before making the leap to a VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) phone.  It isn’t a decision to take lightly without a great deal of thought.  There are many benefits to making the switch from traditional to an internet phone but, depending on the service, there can be issues that your business isn’t ready to tackle.  How do you know it’s right for you?  Let’s look at some of the reasons for and against to try assist you with your decision.

The Pros

  • VoIP has more features than traditional phones. In addition to the features that your public switched telephone network (PSTN) phone service offers, VoIP systems may also offer:
    • Call forwarding
    • Messages converted to email
    • Video conferencing
  • VoIP can be less expensive. Look carefully at the plans being offered.  Some plans allow only PC to PC VoIP calls while others allow PC to phone.  The PC to PC calls are typically free while the PC to phone calls cost more.  Alternatively, however, the PC to phone calls are usually half the price of most phone to phone calls.  Some providers also provide unlimited PC to phone calls within the United States for a small monthly fee.
  • Switching from PSTN to an internet phone offers more portability. Some VoIP systems have a phone that can be plugged into any broadband internet connection to be used.  Your employees will no longer be tied to their desk phones or required to use their cell phones to make and receive calls.  Other systems offer a web interface that will allow users to place calls from anywhere in the world if they are connected to broadband internet.  Employees who frequently travel can make great use of these features.

The Cons

  • Need for a broadband internet connection. Unfortunately, to use VoIP, your system must be connected to high speed internet.  If an employee is traveling somewhere that this is not available, they will not be able to utilize the portability of this system. Likewise, if the internet goes down, there will be no connection for the phone system.  Therefore, once your system goes offline, you lose both your phones and internet capabilities.
  • VoIP systems don’t work during a power outage. Because they are powered by the internet, unlike a land line, your VoIP won’t work if the power goes out.
  • The largest complaint about VoIP systems is sound quality. This can be mitigated with sufficient bandwidth and better equipment.  Think of it this way.  Some providers use free, public internet to power their systems.  By signing up to use one of these, you are now competing with everyone and everything on that connection for bandwidth.  Sharing the bandwidth can cause poor sound quality, lag in conversations, dropped phone calls.  We are seeing improvements in this as technology for VoIP systems improves and the bandwidth requirements are shrinking due to an ability to compress data more efficiently.

The Bottom Line

VoIP systems have come a long way in recent years. Newer technology is decreasing the number of issues most users have with these systems.  Additionally, while the initial outlay for a new VoIP system can be a bit off putting if you consider the phone system and a potential need for an upgraded internet connection, the overall costs are significantly lower than that of a traditional system over its lifetime.  Technology is rapidly advancing, making these systems more reliable and secure with each advance.

Contact us today if you are interested in learning more about VoIP or are thinking of having a system installed!

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