As the traditional telephone network rapidly becomes redundant, more businesses move over to VoIP telephone systems. If you’re in the position where you’ll need to move over to VoIP, you probably want to know the advantages and disadvantages of it.
I created this blog post to give you straight answers on the advantages and disadvantages of VoIP, so here they are:
VoIP Advantages and Disadvantages
|Reliable Internet Needed
|Higher Voice Quality
|Providers Not Made Equal
|Non-Technical People May Have Difficulties Setting Up
As you can see, there are many VoIP advantages that will transform the way your business communicates if you’re still using traditional telephony. However, there are some notable disadvantages too, such as the need for reliable internet. Fortunately, those disadvantages are easily overcome, as I’m going to explain below.
There are several VoIP telephone system advantages that all businesses using VoIP will benefit from. Here’s each advantage broken down into greater detail.
VoIP telephone systems are cheaper for businesses in numerous ways.
First and foremost, setting up VoIP is usually much cheaper than setting up a PBX. A PBX connects several landline phones in an office and requires a lot of onsite hardware. This means large upfront costs for businesses of any size, making it completely unaffordable for most.
Even small businesses wanting a PBX have to invest in expensive physical hardware. With a VoIP systems, no onsite hardware is required to set up the telephone system. Since broadband powers the service, all you need onsite is handsets (although these are actually optional) and a reliable broadband connection.
Depending on the number of users and the service you choose, you might not even need an engineer to set up your VoIP telephone system. Combine all these factors and VoIP systems are evidently much cheaper to set up than more traditional systems.
Secondly, VoIP is cheaper in the long run. According to data from IDT Express, VoIP calls can be 40 – 80% cheaper than calls using the PSTN network. The main reason for this is lower-than-ever data carriage costs. As high-speed broadband availability has increased, the cost of data carriage costs have dramatically reduced. Calls using the traditional infrastructure have stayed the same price, hence VoIP calls being so much cheaper.
Another way that VoIP is cheaper is that there are little or no repair and maintenance costs. Typically, support and maintenance fees are bundled in with your VoIP licence (basically a VoIP telephone line) meaning you never have unexpected costs to pay. If your PBX goes bust, you’ll have a massive expense to suddenly pay, which you’ll never get with VoIP.
You only pay for what you need with VoIP because you can add more features and users as you require them. This offers unprecedented scalability to users who no longer need to pay for services and lines they’re not using.
Higher Voice Quality
When VoIP first became available to consumers, it quickly gained a bad reputation for poor call quality. Voice quality was awful and calls would drop for no reason, which was massively off-putting to businesses for all the obvious reasons.
These days, VoIP calls tend to be very high quality with crisp and clear communications enabled by better broadband. Most businesses have fast and stable internet thanks to broadband developments over the last few years. As long as your business has fast and stable internet, voice quality will never be an issue on a VoIP phone call.
You don’t need to have the finest of internet connections for good quality VoIP calls, either. Virtually every business broadband solution will enable clear communication over the internet. VoIP calls are clear over 3G and 4G connections, for the most part, never mind business broadband!
VoIP telephone systems are completely mobile-ready. You can make and receive calls no matter where you are as long as you have a data connection. The mobile-readiness of VoIP is one of its greatest advantages, as it means you can work on the go as required and never miss an important call again.
If you know that you’re going to be out of the office for a period of time, you can point all calls to your mobile phone. In fact, several providers have mobile applications available that give you all the features of your office telephone system on the go. You can fully manage your telephone system through a web interface anywhere that you have an internet connection. You can make changes and set up features such as call redirects from your mobile.
As the workforce becomes increasingly mobile, your business can be incredibly flexible if you have a VoIP telephone system. No matter the location of your employees, they can remain productive and stay in touch easily for remote collaboration.
If you predict that your business will grow in the future, you probably want a telephone system that will grow with it. As you hire new employees, you want to easily add them to your telephone system quickly and without massive expense. A VoIP telephone system offers greater scalability than any other telephone system available.
Adding new users to your telephone system is as easy as phoning or emailing your provider to sort a new licence. Licences can be added to a VoIP system within mere minutes, so you can quickly have your new user set up to receive and make phone calls.
As you require new features, VoIP makes it easy to add them. As the number of phone calls you receive picks up, you can quickly enable new features to make handling calls easier, for example. This is just another way that a VoIP telephone system would scale with your business as your requirements grow.
While you can’t get much better than a VoIP telephone systems, there are of course some disadvantages to be aware of.
Reliable Internet Needed
The quality of your VoIP telephone system will depend greatly on the internet connection that you have. If you have a poor internet connection with low bandwidth, your VoIP system will inevitably suffer.
While VoIP doesn’t use as much bandwidth as you might imagine, the bandwidth you require will differ based on the number of concurrent calls your business will be making. On virtually any internet connection, one or two concurrent calls will be fine. If you plan to have a lot of concurrent calls, however, you will of course need better internet.
How much bandwidth does VoIP need? Per concurrent call, 100Kbps up and down is required. So if you have 10 concurrent calls, 1Mbps up and down would be needed. However, this is a minimum. The greater the bandwidth, the greater the call quality and stability.
Some providers will help you provide connection issues by installing a second broadband service for your business. In this situation, the broadband service will only be used for your VoIP telephone system, ensuring high-quality calls at all times. A second internet connection means the other processes going on in your office have no impact at all on the functionality of your telephone system. You’ll also avoid any issues with latency and jitter if you have a dedicated connection.
Not All VoIP Providers Are Made Equal
It’s an unfortunate fact that not all VoIP providers are made equal. While some VoIP providers offer solutions that you can rely on, others will let you down. When choosing a VoIP provider for your business, here are some aspects of their service to look at to ensure you end up with a reliable system:
- Network Resilience
- Failover Options
The resilience of a VoIP provider’s network is very important. You’d be surprised at the vast number of VoIP providers with poor, unreliable networks. You need to know how quickly your VoIP provider’s network can recover from a breakdown or disruption in service. After all, your telephone system will be unavailable to you until their network is operational again.
Why do VoIP providers sometimes ignore resilience when designing their network? Unfortunately, it all comes down to time and money. Some VoIP providers avoid investing in resilience because it’s expensive and time-consuming to ensure such a large network can bounce back quickly.
Before deciding on a provider, you need to find out what failover options they have should there be a disruption in service. Whether there’s a problem on your end or the provider’s end, it’s crucial that you don’t lose your telephone system. Speak to any potential provider and ask them what failover options they have. If they can’t provide you with any credible options, they’re not the right provider for you.
Every business needs support every now and then with their telephone system. If you encounter any issues or need advice, you need to know that you can rely on the support of your VoIP provider.
Before choosing a VoIP provider, look into how reliable their support is. Also look into how much it’s going to cost you whenever you need any support. Are there any support guarantees in place, such as an assured response or fix time? If not, how do you know that you can rely on the provider for support when you really need it?