Hello there! Zarte here! Yes I understand, I’d be one step away from smothering me with a pillow too!
Today I’m going to be talking about VoIP. This was new to me too until I started it recently. It doesn’t, as I wondered, stand for “Very obnoxious important person”, nor, as it sounds if you read it how I do, is it a Polish gentleman’s name. VoIP stands for Voice over Internet Protocol. In essence, what this means is the ability to make telephone calls over the Internet.
When VoIP originally became fairly widely available, back in the dark recesses of our history (otherwise known as the early to mid 2000s), things were very different. Facebook barely existed, videos of cats didn’t account for 50% of the entire Internet, and most of us, frankly, had blooming awful Internet connections.
And as VoIP works by using your broadband connection to make phone calls, rather than a standard telephone line, this meant that the service most people could get was equally blooming awful. Because in essence, VoIP takes a voice, and turns it into a digital signal, which it pushes across to a recipient. In short, it was an excellent example of a technology coming too soon. The idea was good, but the ability to implement it for all but those with the best connections, or the most expensive lines was nigh on impossible.
However now, it’s beginning to come back to the fore. Internet speeds have got much better, as has the level of reliability, but the original experiences of VoIP mean people are still, understandably slightly wary. Which means that we’re being asked a lot – is VoIP now good enough for everyday business usage?
Well the first thing to mention is cost. One big advantage of VoIP is that it can make things considerably cheaper. Calls can be charged at a vastly lower rate, whilst it removes the requirement for so many phone lines, meaning your line rental costs can drop significantly. Immediately, you’re off to a strong start. Additionally, there’s no need for a big expensive telephone system any more –transferring calls, checking voicemail and similar are all things that can be done quite easily with the available solutions and those solutions are usually included or are at least highly affordable - we’ll have more on that this month).
What we would say, is that depending on your broadband speed, it might not be a good idea to allow the same broadband line to share both VoIP responsibilities and standard Internet data usage. Because if multiple people are trying to share the connection at the same time, and one is making a phone call, whilst another is on their lunch break and trying to stream things on YouTube, this is where you could have issues. This more affects those without a particularly fast connection though – we would DEFINITELY recommend no more than 4 users per line though. In our office, we have 5 phones on one line, all running VoIP, and one line covering everyone’s Internet access. This works wonderfully, and we very rarely have any issues.
Next is reliability. Ultimately, you know yourself how strong connection is in your area. If you’re out in the doldrums and the Internet drops every 5 minutes, then the chances are VoIP won’t be for you. But in most built-up areas, presuming your provider isn’t useless, then reliability tends to be so much better than we can’t imagine you’d have any issues with it. Keeping one standard phone line as a backup might give you some peace of mind, but beyond that, I wouldn’t be too concerned.
Next, call quality. Well I can say that the phone I use at home uses VoIP, and for the most part I barely notice the difference. Occasionally, you can get a bad connection, probably slightly more often than if you were using a regular landline, however not to any great degree. Sound is clear and crisp (and I live right out in the sticks, where superfast broadband is still a witchcraft like idea – far off being a reality)
All in all, we feel that the conclusion is yes – VoIP IS now good enough for business usage. We use it ourselves, and we’re happy, and we think that if it suits your situation, you could be too.
However if you’re not convinced, traditional phone lines aren’t going anywhere either! Either way, why don’t you let us know what you think, or, if you’d like to know more because you’re thinking of bringing it to your business, why not give us a call to talk through the specifics – we’re always happy to help!
Until next time,