VoIP telephone systems are capable of using analogue and ISDN lines just like other telephone systems. But – it’s when they use Internet that their cost savings and flexibility become apparent, with lower line and call costs, and their ability to support a phone located anywhere in the world, as a ‘local’ extension.
Internet connections have become more sophisticated and reliable, with Service Level Agreements (SLA’s) on some business grade services, matching those of ISDN phone lines. Even so – people are still cautious about putting telephone calls across the Internet …
There are a couple of basic rules that we follow;
First – we make sure that the ISP supplying your Internet trunk lines, is the same company that’s providing your Broadband service. This is so that your calls don’t have to go into the server-farm at one Internet provider and then transit the web to find the telecom’s server at another. Following this rule ensures a nice clean connection between your phones and the carrier’s central switch system designed to onward connect you to local, national, international & mobile calls.
The second rule is to be careful about your choice of Internet / line provider. VoIP provides huge savings over ISDN or analogue lines – so it doesn’t make sense to choose your ISP partner purely on price. In general, business-to-business ISP’s are more expensive because they CAN provide some assurances that ‘when the kids get in from school’ their servers and bandwidth won’t be pushed to the limit! For example – working with an ISP that guarantees a 30% reserve on bandwidth – and provides automatic call fall-back to alternate land-line or mobile numbers is going to give you that warm & fuzzy feeling … Where an ISP you sign-up to out of a shopping trolley may not!
With the right service in place, you will experience VoIP connection that is pretty much as you’d get from an ISDN service – without the cost! However, that’s not the end of it! To provide additional security, we can use the analogue lines used to deliver broadband services into the business, as alternates in case of a broadband problem. We could even use mobile gateways to carry calls and by-pass land-lines completely.
VoIP systems are typically running on [non-proprietary] PC’s or servers, and therefore, even if the fault is due to failed computer hardware, it is possible to quickly and easily load the system application and a configuration back-up onto another PC and get service restored fast.
So – in a lot of cases, VoIP systems are actually becoming more reliable than ‘traditional’ land-line based systems – simply because there are so many safe-guards and alternates built into them.