Businesses are constantly on the lookout for ways to cut costs. One way to tighten the belt is by cutting phone service expenses by using Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP). Here’s a hard look at the VoIP advantages and disadvantages for businesses.
What Is VoIP?
Simply put, it’s the ability to make and receive calls over the internet for very little cost. Since it’s just another digital signal, it’s already paid for in a monthly high-speed internet subscription. It allows calls to and from any phone in the world, regardless of the network, carrier, software, or make of phone. If there’s an internet connection, calls can be made.
What Are the Advantages of VoIP?
Before you decide if this system is right for your business, learn more about the advantages of VoIP.
Since there’s no need for a traditional phone line, one extra monthly bill is immediately removed. Calls connected from PC to PC over VoIP are free. Calls between PC and a landline will usually have a service fee; however, they are significantly less than with a traditional phone line. If you need to purchase IP phones to place VoIP calls, those products are relatively affordable as well.
Physical location and distance are irrelevant with VoIP technology. Whether you’re calling next door or across the world, it doesn’t matter—it’s like sending an email. If traveling frequently, it’s much more convenient, and again cheaper, to use a business VoIP service to stay connected. All you need is an internet connection and a laptop with a headset, a VoIP phone adapter, or an IP phone. And, calls will work in foreign countries, where a US-based cellphone would not.
With a traditional phone service, it’s impossible to just pick up and move the system. With voice over internet protocol, simply reconnect your business VoIP system and make a call. The phone number doesn’t even have to change. For example, if your business has an office in New York and a warehouse in California, the New York office could have a local California number so that all calls would be charged local call rates.
For larger companies using their own Private Branch Exchange (PBX), a private phone network within an organization, switching to an IP PBX allows them to have more phones than physical phone lines, with huge cost savings. And, calls would be free between all users on the PBX.
Business VoIP services offer feature-rich packages. Most VoIP companies provide unified communications features such as call waiting, caller ID, conference calls, voicemail, and call forwarding at no extra charge. These are usually expensive add-ons with a service provider. It’s even possible to send documents and pictures while engaged in a conversation.
What Are the Disadvantages of VoIP?
Business decisions are all about weighing pros and cons, so you should consider the following disadvantages of VoIP before investing in this service.
As mentioned already, as long as there’s an internet connection, calls can be made. But what if the internet goes out or there’s a spotty connection? In the case of an internet outage, you won’t have a functional phone unless you have a backup landline-enabled phone.
VoIP is a bandwidth hog, no question about it. In an office setting, the VoIP service shares that same internet connection with multiple users who are all accessing a server, sending email, and generally using the web. If there’s inadequate bandwidth in your office, call and voice quality suffer.
If there’s no electricity, calls won’t come in or go out. Again, having a backup phone in this situation is the only solution for preventing dropped or missed calls. No calls for a business is disastrous, and in a natural disaster, it could be dangerous.
VoIP phone services may not offer emergency 911 service. When you dial 911, the phone company sees the phone number on a landline or the closest cell tower and routes the call to the nearest 911 office. Although one of the advantages of VoIP is choosing a different area code, dialing 911 from a VoIP system won’t connect with a local dispatcher. There are steps you must take with your service provider to ensure the location information is accurate for 911 calls.
VoIP service is directly affected by the quality and reliability of its internet connection. Factors such as internet speed, the VoIP provider’s service, even the quality of the hardware it’s being run on all impact the service. As a result of the voice data being compressed, transmitted, decompressed, and then delivered, voice quality does tend to lag behind traditional phone service. If there are even a few milliseconds of delay anywhere in the chain, echoes or spottiness can occur.
For most businesses, the facts are clear. The advantages far outweigh the disadvantages of VoIP. It cuts expenses, clutter, and hassle. If only all business decisions were so simple.