6 Q's to ask when researching business VoIP phone systems (Part 2)
Today is the 2nd of 3 articles detailing what I think are the 6 most important questions you must answer when researching business VoIP phone systems. The first article is here: 6 Q's to ask when researching business VoIP phone systems (Part 1).
Here are the 6 Questions:
- What do I need my phone system to do?
- Do I need VoIP to acheive my communication goals?
- Do I have enough bandwidth to implement VoIP?
- Is my network ready for a VoIP system?
- Will I need any analogue lines?
- What is Unified Communications...and do I need it?
Yesterday, I covered the first two questions. Today, we look at the 2nd - way less sexy - two questions.
Question 3: Do I have enough bandwidth to implement VoIP?
I wrote an article on this - It's almost never enough bandwidth. (It's an article I really like for a number of reasons)
In summary, you've got to be aware that VoIP is sending your voice over the internet, and if you don't have a big enough internet pipe to send your phone calls and your data 'stuff' all at the same time, there is going to be trouble.
How much bandwidth do you need? Well, there are several factors:
- How much data do you send over your internet connection? I know it sounds like that should be a given, but how often do we really think about how much information we send over our internet connection?
- How much does the phone system compress the voice packets? (This refers to the type of 'codec' the system uses. codec = compression/decompression) What this means is that when you talk into your phone, it "compresses" your voice into a little data packet to send it over the internet (think UPS for phone calls). There are a range of compression rates, and therefore there are a range of 'sizes' for voice packets depending on which system you are going to use.
- How heavy is our call volume? Again, I know it may seem obvious, but you need to ask yourself: What is the greatest number of people our company will have on the phone at one time at any given time?
- Will you be doing any video calling? (The Digium Switchvox comes with video calling...and it takes more bandwidth.
Once you have a sense of the compression rate of the VoIP system you're looking at and you know about how many "concurrent" phone calls you will make at your busiest times, you can just multiply the two together to figure out how much "voice bandwidth" you'll need. (e.g 42kbps/call x 10 calls = 420kbps, or approx. .5mgs)
Question 4: Is my network ready for a VoIP system?
Let me be brief on this for now. When you implement VoIP, you will be running all of your voice traffic over your internet connection. That means:
- Your phone calls will be sharing space with your data
- Your phone calls will most likely be sharing routers with your data
- Your phone system will require a different level of security than it did when it was just using plain old copper lines
You'll need someone with IT knowledge and knowledge of your network to make sure that - based on your developing list of company needs, goals, and objectives - your network will not only handle VoIP traffic, but that it will be optimized for it. (For basic information on optimizing a network (i.e. QoS), see my article here: It's almost never enough bandwidth. The article is not a "how to," it's a "what is it?")
That's probably enough on this for now. If you have any questions or information you'd like more help with, obviously feel free to comment...
Tomorrow we'll look at Unified Commuications primarily, and I'll round out the list of 6 by looking at whether or not you'll also want to keep a couple of analogue lines hooked up to your system or not.
Again, any feedback or further interest on this series would be way helpful...and until next time, have a great one!