Business VoIP killed the radio star...and we can't rewind.
Voice over IP is a very hot topic in the telecommunications world, and there is a proliferation of business VoIP phone systems on the market. Having heard it hailed as the great "free calling" savior, many are getting into VoIP without really understanding what it is and what it takes to succesfully implement & use. There are certainly many good things about VoIP (aka Voice over IP), but it takes planning and preparation as well as some know-how to set up and get running. This is the first of a series of posts that are meant to be a resource to help you be informed about VoIP so that you can make the best decision for your business.
The series looks like this:
- What is business VoIP
- 6 Questions to ask when researching business VoIP phone systems
- Why Hosted VoIP sucks (and how fonality is screwing that all up)
- 5 Thoughts about SIP and other phone service non-sense
Today, we start with this: What is Business VoIP?
Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) is simply a fancy way of saying that somehow, someone figured out how to send your voice over the internet, instead of doing it the 'easy' way - over a billion miles of copper wire. (Now, you may be a brainiac and you may want to know all about this uber-four-letter-word (acronym, whatever). Check out VoIP on wikipedia and then SIP on wikipedia with special attention to the Internet Protocol Suite.) VoIP is the evolution of phone service in that you get far better quality sound with potentially reduced cost.
(Long aside: I know that when I say, "better quality sound," some of you throw up in your mouth. You've been "voip'ed" and will never let it happen again. The reality, however, is that it most likely wasn't voip's fault...it was your internet. You see, when it comes to sending your voice over the internet, you must always keep three things of absolute priority: bandwidth, bandwidth, bandwidth. If any ONE of these is not sufficient, you're in trouble. I talk about bandwidth in my article, It's almost never enough bandwidth.)
So, since VoIP is the ability to send your voice over the internet, then business VoIP is the ability to send business phone calls over the internet. Now, this may seem a trivial distinction to note, but it isn't. Having MagicJack at home and running a business phone system over your network are very, very different.
There are key benefits:
- Link multiple locations - for free (well...you'll have to pay for bandwidth)
- Work from anywhere in the world (w/ internet connection)
- Potential savings over your outdated, over-priced analogue lines
- Tremendous applications and features. (with Switchvox, we have a programmer that can write a custom app for companies to do almost anything...how sweet is that!)
- The phones are #waycooljr
There are some concerns:
- A power failure cripples your phone system if you don't have an emergence procedure / plan
- If you don't have a enough bandwidth, you are begging for a visit from the three bastard children of the VoIP family: latency, jitter, and delay.
- It's not necessarily less expensive, leaving numerous business owners smashed up against the rocks of shattered expectations...brave soles who set out to capture the the white whale of free phone calling, only to find that a business VoIP system can be expensive.
Tomorrow we'll look at 6 Questions you'll need to ask when researching business VoIP phone systems.
Disclaimer: This series is a living work. Do you have something to contribute? Is there a topic you would like to see addressed? Feel free to add, correct challenge, question, and engage via the comments!