There is often debate about both the issues and the benefits of VoIP technology. It is certainly a technology with rocky beginnings, and whilst it did gain a great deal of popularity in its early days, many of the earlier implementations were riddled with issues and bugs, which at their worst, made some telecom services unusable.
Most of the issues stemmed from the fact that VoIP is based on digital packet data. In theory this works very well since the data packets are charged on the amount of data used rather than a length of time spent on each call. As far as data transfer goes, the amount of data required for a phone call is very low, making VoIP calls much cheaper than the cost of traditional minute by minute rates.
The major issue that can affect VoIP technology is when packets of data get delayed. Typically this can happen when the packets are queued behind other packets of data running over the same connection. The latency produced by this can result in difficulties for the user on the other end of the line, and similar problems can arise from incoming data.
In systems where an existing internet connection has been used, this can be mitigated to an extent with packet priority stopping the VoIP packets getting queued behind other data. But this still didn’t stop some of the more “patchy” internet connections having these issues during, for example, peak traffic periods where service may be diminished.
These early implementations were largely the work of cowboy companies setting up with the rise of the newly popular technology, and this did give VoIP a bad reputation in its earlier years. Currently however, data connections have become stronger with time and most of the companies who would implement substandard VoIP systems have died out.
So onto the advantages of VoIP; one of the biggest advances in VoIP technology has been hosted services and the lack of requirement for a traditional PBX system. The traditional PBX has an arguably equal reputation to early VoIP for the fact they could become obsolete in a short time frame. This normally happens after an increase of company size where a PBX system limit is reached, upon which a new system would need to be implemented to replace it. With hosted VoIP no such requirements exist.
By having a hosted system, any expansions are defined by the network you have. Since most companies have a computer network, it can be convenient to run the phone system through the computers. This can be done either through headsets and “softphones”, or by plugging actual phones into the computers. It can also run over existing phone networks. So when the time comes to upgrade, assuming you have another computer in your network, you can simply add them. The only major limitation is the internet connection.
On top of the avoidance of capital costs, VoIP also has benefits in the fact that it isn’t tied to a single location, being cloud based. This makes international calls potentially exactly the same cost as local calls since all you are paying for is data transfer; this makes it a strong tool for multinational organisations and companies who may have operatives overseas. It also allows for much simpler implementation of dispersed location call forwarding, which can be highly beneficial for companies with multiple call centres or offices in different locations.
So despite its troubled beginnings in the world, VoIP has now proved itself capable of providing communications in a way previously unavailable to large portions of the market due to costs. It certainly seems to be the way communications are moving now, so why not pick up your phone and see what benefits could be awaiting you in the world of cloud communication.