Why should (or shouldn’t) my business switch to VoIP?

It seems not a day goes by that we don’t get a call from a business saying they “need a VoIP system”.  First, we ask them why they THINK they need need a VoIP system, which inevitably leads to asking them “Exactly what do you think a VoIP system is?”  Some reply “Voice over the Internet”,  some reply “Free phone calls”,  and, occasionally, the honest, “I don’t know”.  Truth is, most business people don’t know what VoIP is.  The acronym stands for Voice Over Internet Protocol, and it’s the last word that is the most important. Voice Over Internet is like teaching pigs to sing: it inevitably doesn’t work, (and you end up with a frustrated pig to boot).

You see, the Internet doesn’t have the same routing rules as a private network, and thus your voice call has the same priority as Jimmy from down the street watching a hysterical YouTube video of a water skiing squirrel.  And that, friends, is not good for business.
Voice Over Internet PROTOCOL is a different matter, however.  For many years now phone systems have digitized conversations (converted analog signal to 0’s and 1’s) .  Today by digitizing them in the same manner as other data traffic such as emails, web sessions, etc. (Internet Protocol), we’re able to use the same switching, routing, infrastructure, etc as existing data networks.  And THAT is provides benefits to most businesses.  First, it makes it easy to deploy phones and systems in remote locations.  Second, whenever you move a phone, it finds the control unit and retains it’s identity, usually with no visit to the wiring closet.  And third, by treating voice as another application, it will ‘play nice’ with other computers on your network, making it easier to integrate with company databases, programs like Outlook and more.
Do YOU NEED VoIP?  While there are certainly some benefits, there are benefits to using digital phones also.  They are more reliable, they are self-powered, and they will not compete for bandwidth on your LAN.  There’s also the cost factor, as sometimes you need new cabling, data switches and more to deploy IP.  You can still enjoy many of the benefits of a VoIP phone system without using IP phones in your office.  When in doubt, ask someone who isn’t drinking “VoIP Kool-Aid”, and hopefully you’ll get an unbiased, educated answer.
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