VoIP as a business technology

Having a conversation with a MSN friend tonight, we began talking about a lot of topics, but we hit a rather great, lengthy, well, debate, on the topic of VoIP in a business environment.

You see, my MSN friend was talking about VoIP not being ready as a business technology.

I fail to see how VoIP, when implemented correctly, wouldn’t be a technology fit for a business.

There’s all sorts of redundancies that can be built in at the client end to protect from poor quality calls, and ensure the majority of calls are perfectly normal (or even better than PSTN quality) calls.

We were discussing this for some time, I think we hit like 30 odd minutes about possible issues using VoIP in a business environment.

All of the issues raised had very obvious and rather easy solutions to them.

Anyway, we ended the topic basically he was still under the impression the PSTN was not an IP based network, and that made it superior to VoIP in someway.

For all purposes intended, the below is all based solely off the interpretation of how PSTN actually works, and to give a better idea of just how alike each other, VoIP and PSTN are.

VoIP: You connect an internet connection to your premises, supply an ATA, a handset, and start calling. That’s the basics of it.

PSTN: You run fibre between each exchange, you have routing servers to route and handle calls, you have copper going to the customer premises, you carry the voice over an IP based fibre network to the destination exchange, and convert it back to voice.

The key differences with that are, VoIP is generally not given QoS on the public internet. You get your internet connection from a supplier who could have different contention ratios, and not provision enough bandwidth.

The PSTN fibre IP network has a lot more to it than just that, the same fibre IP network carries the nations internet traffic for the most part (from exchange back to point of aggregation, except where other providers offer exchange fibre termination).

The calls on the PSTN network, they come in on the copper wire, to the exchange, into a device which converts it to IP packets, they are transported on a private network, managed solely, and provisioned only, to carry telephone calls in ulaw format.

The calls on the VoIP network, they come in on the copper wire, to the ATA (the device which converts it to IP packets), they are transported on a public network, which carries all sorts of data reliably, and is provisioned to your providers needs, which are generally bulk haul data from the public internet.

As you can see, that is a major point to VoIP, however, if you choose the right connection, the right provider, and use the right implementation, I fail to see how VoIP (with PSTN failover) couldn’t work in any business?

If you look at it, businesses normally provision enough bandwidth for their needs, and then some, so if you install VoIP into a business, you would obviously provision enough bandwidth for peak load, implement a strong QoS policy with proven testing, and have failover.

All that seems pretty obvious to me. It’s all enough to provide the average business with VoIP telephony of a reliable standard, and without any quality issues.

PSTN and VoIP are basically the same thing, the only difference, you aren’t paying through the roof rates, for someone to manage a private network solely for your phone calls, you compromise on quality, which is generally not noticeable, and the obvious issues with internet packets. But, in most businesses, most of the time, that would not be a problem at all, with PSTN failover, the service wouldn’t be affected to any significant degree.

VoIP as a business technology, the savings alone throughout 2 years would have me sold instantly.

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