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VoIP, the new four letter word?

By now, most businesses and individuals have heard something about VoIP. Perhaps it was just between friends, on a television commercial, or in a meeting about your companyís communications network.

The question is, how much do you really know about Voice over IP? For the VoIP veterans out there this might not help you but for others, this could be the information you need to help you take the mystery out of VoIP.

What is VoIP?

Without getting overly technical, VoIP is the transfer of a voice call via a TCP/IP network. This can be your local area network (LAN) in your office, between locations via your company wide area network (WAN) or using the Internet for remote agents throughout the world at locations that provide internet access.

This is done by converting the voice frequencies to data. All VoIP calls use certain codecs such as G.711, G.729, etc. which as you investigate the technology you will learn more about each of them. These codecs use a certain amount of bandwidth based upon their compression and will be important to you as you plan your VoIP deployment.

There are two types of VoIP that relate to your business model today, VoIP trunking and VoIP networking. Many of you have likely seen that there are broadband telephone service providers out there now. This is your ďoutsideĒ line that you use every day to communicate with people outside of your office. There is also the station side VoIP which is what you use to communicate within your office itself. This typically is done via a PBX or key system and you simply dial another employeeís extension.

Many people talk about needing VoIP without really knowing what they are looking for. They also think VoIP is new technology. Itís ok, thatís why we are here. Executive Telephony has been working with and testing various VoIP products since 1999. Weíve watched the technology change from a buzzword to enterprise deployable solutions. Weíve seen the good, the bad, and the ugly of VoIP, now letís talk about it.

The Good

Voice over IP offers a great amount of flexibility in your companyís communications network. From allowing your company to deploy remote agents throughout the city, state, country, or world via IP telephones or soft phones on a laptop to networking your companyís branches increasing the productivity of your staff while reducing the long distance charges for those branches to communicate.

The VoIP telephones and soft phone software are great for the mobile workforce. You can deploy these anywhere a mobile worker can connect to your companies VoIP network.

VoIP networking solutions allow you to see if employees on any remote location are busy via indicators, you can page from one location to another, and even have a central operator for your entire company regardless of location.

The Bad

Because VoIP use data packets from one location to another, you are dependant upon that information to get from each location in a timely manner. If your network, internal or external, isnít up to the task, you may not notice it too much in your day to day operations of your business. Some examples would be a web page loading a little slow or a file from the server taking a little too long to download. These are all things many of us have experienced from one time to another and we just take another sip of coffee or work on another project in the background. Itís hardly noticed.

Voice over IP traffic isnít that forgiving. When you are having a conversation with someone, the packets of information need to get to the other location quickly. If your network is congested, you will begin to notice problems. Your network is the key, both internal and external, to the quality of VoIP calls. Without the proper network in place, VoIP can become a new four letter word. The important thing to remember is itís not the VoIP technology itself that is the cause; it is the infrastructure that it runs on.

A good comparison is a cellular phone call. Many people do business on them every day but there are limitations to their service. There are good areas and bad areas and sometimes they break up for a second here and there, but the benefits greatly outweigh these issues. The same can be said about VoIP. Understanding the technology will go a long way to helping you have a realistic expectation of it.

The Ugly

As with any industry, there are many different skill levels throughout it. Sometimes you donít truly know how qualified a company is to implement the technology that your company is looking for. Not only can this cost your company time and money, but it can add frustration to your employees and customers.

Having a qualified company that goes through all this with you is the key to a successful launch of this technology. Spend the time to get to know the company you are considering and understand the technology and product you are considering. Make sure you arenít being promised the moon with no way of delivering it. Spend a little time researching the options being presented to you.

Be sure itís not just smoke and mirrors. A demo room is impressive and can show you many of the products and features, but itís also a small controlled environment. If they are promising it will work without any changes to your network, etc. ask them to prove it. See if the company offers a demo program for your particular configuration. We have demo options available for the VoIP solutions.

Weíve all been told that if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Taking the time to understand the proís and conís to any technology will help you better utilize it when it comes time to deploy it.

We hope we are able to provide those solutions for you and hope this will help you along the way to making an informed decision for your VoIP needs.

Thank you,

Executive Telephony, Inc.