What to think about before a VOIP installation

voipThese days many business are looking at VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) Phone Systems. Instead of carrying calls on conventional phone lines, the voice is carried encrypted across the internet. While VOIP is usually the  way  to go, there are things to be considered. For the purposes of this article I’m going to quickly review the talking points one should consider when planning a VOIP implementation. What follows is a brief voip installation guide or checklist.

Talking Points:

1) You can use your existing computer network wiring instead of dedicated wiring.

2) Full featured: besides all the normal features of a regular phone system VOIP systems usually have a great amount of integration between the computer and phone system. Things such as ‘soft phones’ or software phones allow one to appear as if he/she is in the office even when they’re not. Automatic dialing from within computer applications (outlook) is common.

3) Lower monthly cost for phone service

4) Ability to have phones anywhere you have internet. Instead of needing phone systems in remote offices, you can connect phones in the remote office directly to the main office phone system accross the internet.

5) Don’t ever put international calling on the VOIP circuit. Because the VOIP phone system is on the internet it can get hacked, and the hacker can place calls to whereever he wants. If your phone line vendor doesn’t allow international calling on your circuit you are covered against any big hacking call costs.

6) Sometimes it is necessary to VLAN or ‘split’ the data on your network between network data (pc’s, servers, etc) and phone traffic. This usually needs to be done when you begin to have voice quality problems.

7) You need to prioritize your internet traffic so that voice packets get thru before any other data type (browsing, email).

8) When possible split your phone and data network physically at the switch level. This means more network switches need to be purchased (often they do anyway if you need the switch to power the phone-see POE or power over ethernet). It’s easier to troubleshoot physically separate networks instead of VLAN’s. Most small businesses do not have the talent level to effectively manage VLANs.

9) You’ll need to decide if you’ll be using a dedicated SIP trunk circuit or virtual SIP trunks accross your existing (or new) internet connection. They both have pros and cons. The major con of the dedicated SIP trunk is the cost while the virtual SIP trunk usually has voice quality issues (see 6 and 7 above).

10) VOIP usually means lower phone bills as VOIP circuit providers are usually less per line than the traditional phone company, and many VOIP providers bundle a large amount of minutes with the circuit.

These are a few of the things to consider when purchasing a VOIP phone system. VOIP is the way to go, just be prepared and all will go well.

Until next time, please email me directly if you have questions. Tom