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Pros And Cons For VoIP Phone Systems

by John Ciarlone on December 4, 2012

If you're in charge of the communications of a growing business, sooner or later, a question is going to occur to pros and cons of voip you: will moving to a Voice over IP (VoIP) telecommunications service help my business grow? VoIP is a booming industry, with more and more businesses moving towards it, but it's still not a "magic bullet" one-size-fits-all communications solution. There are some definite pros and cons of VoIp phone systems that you'll want to weigh before making a decision. 

Short on Time? Download our Free Guide: Evaluating the Total Cost of VoIP  Phones 

On the whole we believe that VoIP phone systems are worth the investment, and most of their downsides can be mitigated with the right circumstances and hardware. However, that still doesn't mean that now is necessarily the right time for you to go VoIP.

So, let's take a quick look at the pros and cons of VoIP.

meraki communicationsThe Pros of VoIP Phone Systems

  • Cost Savings: Lower prices are still the #1 reason cited by businesses moving towards VoIP, and with good reason. A well-implemented VoIP system can reduce your communications cost to being nothing more than your monthly Internet bill, all but eliminating all long distance charges. You might even be able to shut off your copper wire service entirely.

  • Expanded Services: VoIP already supports all of the standard phone line features such as call waiting and voicemail boxes, while adding more options to the mix. Voicemail can be processed and sent to email boxes as text or MP3. Video messages and even videoconferencing are possibilities. Plus, you can standardize access so that any mobile user can access their communications at any time.

  • Consolidated Billing and Support: Fewer service providers means fewer phone numbers to call when something goes wrong. Reducing your telecom bill to a single service will also make monthly budgeting far easier.

  • Easy Account Management: Most VoIP service profiles can be altered at will through a web interface, allowing you to add phones, lines, or even entire virtual trunks on-demand. Your services can expand and contract to meet your current needs with a minimum of trouble.

  • Expand Your Network's Horizons: Moving towards VoIP generally means moving towards an internal network setup which will be easier to upgrade in the future to use modern networking techniques such as virtualization. VoIP can become an integral part of your network architecture, opening new doors.

The Cons of VoIP Phone Systems

While VoIP has matured tremendously as an enterprise technology in recent years, it's still not flawless. Here are a few potential problems to consider if you're looking into VoIP systems. Most of them have solutions, but it may add too much to your costs.

  • All your eggs are in one basket: This is the biggest single drawback. If all your communications are going through your Internet service, that means if the 'Net goes down, everything goes down. A guaranteed business-class T1, T3, or Fiber connection is recommended for any company looking to go solely to VoIP communications. Similarly, you would probably want to have your network on a UPS backup, and/or a backup generator in case of power failure. Don't forget, that's only as good as your service provider's backup on site as well... and surprisingly enough, most don't have one if the power goes off in a building.

  • Voice quality: Quality of Service (QoS) in VoIP systems has always been an area of concern. Many cheaper providers will just use public Internet sources, meaning your communications are fighting with everyone else online for bandwidth. More advanced phone systems have built-in quality management or use dedicated networks for speed, but this can also add to your costs. Make sure you set up QoS on that switch!

  • Internal bandwidth issues: No matter what quality of Internet service you currently use, it will probably need to be upgraded if you're adding more than a few IP voice lines. Along the same lines, you'll probably need more internal routers or switches.

The Bottom Line

The bottom line is that for most businesses that can afford the initial startup costs, VoIP service will go on to be a valuable service that quickly delivers a return on the investment. However, if you cannot afford to do it right upon installation, it may be wiser to wait before making the change, to avoid preventable problems.


Topics: Phones