Choosing Business VoIP Phone Service Wisely

The Business VoIP Challenge – Affordable Quality Service

Let’s face it; business phone service is mission critical. It’s simply not acceptable to sound like Darth Vader, a jar of crickets or have dropped calls and other quality issues.

In fact this was much of the reason for slow adoption of internet phone service to begin with. And herein lay the reason — the internet.

You know, internet connections have come a long way in the last 10 years. Working for the phone company back in 1999, we were selling a T1 to the Internet for almost $2,000 per month, now they are only about $450 for a decent circuit, maybe less in some areas.

Where we had dial–up at 56/k before, now we have 12 Mbps cable modems (like a zillion — yes a zillion times faster than dial–up) that can support dozens of PCs and maybe even a few small office VoIP business phones.

So, many of the VoIP quality issues have ironed themselves out. But not all of them.

We still have the challenge as a business decision maker of understanding exactly how this technology saves us money, why we need a good, I mean a really good internet phone service provider AND a good internet connection. We need to make sure we don’t end up dropping perfectly good phone service from Ma Bell and maybe even paying a bunch of money on expensive equipment to get cheap phone service.

Fundamentals – How VoIP Works

So we take our voice calls and turn them into 1s and 0s – that’s right analog voice from our mouth to data on our PC or IP handset. Then we squirt this data over an internet connection and on to our Internet Telephony Services Provider (ITSP) and viola — internet phone services!

Problem is it sounds great, and we just know; really know it should save us money — right?

But it doesn’t always work… Why? Because not all internet connections are created equal, and VoIP phone service as a “real time” data stream requires a really good internet connection. Without a superior VoIP ADSL or cable modem connection, we risk having terrible service problems, and perhaps numerous customer and employee complaints.

So let me give you an example what happens when we ASSUME we have a nice, big Internet connection and it should be good for VoIP, but it might still not fit the bill.

You have a plane to catch, and you hop on the huge twelve lane highway out by your place to the airport. You know it’s only going to take about 15 minutes, because its 10PM at night and no one is on the road. Plus you have a twelve lane highway, right?

So the twelve lane highway is your 12 Meg cable modem, or your 6 Meg ADSL connection. You simply know this is a lot of bandwidth, right? I mean it is, and it only cost about $60 or so a month, so this is a good deal, surely we’re gonna save a ton of money by moving to VoIP — right?

OK, now you’re coming home from the airport a few days later after your trip. You arrive and it’s 4:30PM on a Friday afternoon. Same twelve lane highway, same car, same everything, except its rush hour!

How long is it going to take to get home? Does it matter you’re on a twelve lane highway? Of course not. You’re going to creep along, with starts and stops, and if you’re a VoIP conversation, we call this jitter, packet loss and latency. And VoIP hates all this stuff, see?

So what’s happened here is that what many times is an OK ride to the airport isn’t OK when we have to SHARE the road with others, right? Same thing with VoIP and “best effort” internet connections. There is simply no guarantee that when we need a big, clean pipe for good VoIP, we won’t end up sharing the bandwidth with other internet users.

What Do We Know? What More Can We Learn?

The lessons here are:

* Internet phone services can save money by converging voice and data onto a single connection. We then can fire the phone company, and get rid of these expensive phone lines.

* We cannot assume our existing internet connection will support one or more VoIP phone service telephone calls, all day, every day, day in and day out, 365 days a year. In fact, the more CONCURRENT calls we have the more challenging it is to assure we have high quality calls.

* We need to know how to pick not only the best VoIP phone service provider, but also the best Internet Service Providers (ISPs) so as to assure “business class” internet phone services.

* This may seem somewhat complicated and it needn’t be. But we cannot leave our business phone services to chance. We must assure we understand the issues, and make informed decisions to benefit from the adoption of VoIP phone service in the business environment.

So do your homework, and test any existing internet service BEFORE porting your published business phone numbers to an internet phone service provider. If you’re a larger business and want assistance, get with a professional like they many times can help you understand your needs, then design the VoIP phone service network or solution before shopping the market for you.