VOIP Advantages and Disadvantages

VOIP phone systems, IP Telephony, SIP Trunking – this is the absolute core of our business.  We’re heavily focused on providing VOIP solutions like ShoreTel and Allworx to our customers in Portland, Oregon, Seattle, Wasington and the Bay Area.

So why would I blog on the disadvantages of VOIP?  That’s because, if not designed, deployed, and supported properly, VoIP can be very issue-laden.

So some of the many advantages:

IP Phones – can be deployed anywhere in the world (satellite offices, home offices, etc) and connected back to the main VOIP phone system.  Users can enjoy a “seamless” communication experience within their company and with their customers.

Mobility Features – Find-me / Follow-me, mobile device integration (mobility applications that integrate with the corporate business phone system).

Reduced Costs – Through technologies like SIP trunks, web-based admin, reduced network infrastructure costs, etc

Human Resource Leveraging – This is a benefit people don’t always consider.  What if I could route my customer service calls from anywhere in the world, to any office, to any customer service rep, regardless if they’re sitting in their office, at home, or in the field?  Think about the incredible ROI global, intelligent, call-routing could provide your company.

And the list really goes on and on

So some disadvantages (and solutions)

VOIP Call Quality – oh yes, the mother of VOIP phone system concerns!  Without spewing out a large lecture on network infrastructure, consider the following:

Bandwidth – make sure you have enough bandwidth to pass VOIP traffic!  Depending on the codec used, plan on 32K to 80K per VOIP call

Network integrity – Although you can have the biggest IP pipe in the world, if you’re not considering things like packet loss, jitter, and delay from end-to-end, you could experience quality issues.

Quality of Service (QOS) – if you’re passing data across the same VOIP connection, are you tagging and prioritizing those VOIP packets over the data packets?  A network connection passing VOIP could be a private office-to-office connection, a private connection to the SIP trunking provider, or a public Internet connection between sites or to the SIP trunking provider.  What are your goals and budget?  How “mission-critical” is the VOIP traffic?  Do not be fooled by a public Internet router that can enforce

“QOS” on the VOIP traffic to and from the  Internet, this is not true end-to-end QOS since your upstream ISP probably does not recognize the tagged packet, let alone prioritize them across their own network.

Other “potential” disadvantages:

Server-based phone systems – do you want to reboot your phone system or lose a hard drive?

Local Area Network not ready for a VOIP phone system – have you considered a LAN assessment, VLANs, Power over Ethernet, etc?

911 issues from dialing from a remote site or home office (SIP trunks make a great solution for this)

Local survivability of remote offices if the network were to go down

These are “infrastructure” questions to consider – all of which can be solved with proper planning and design.

One other issues I see all the time – your “phone system” vendor blaming quality issues on your “network” vendor or vice versa.  This can be a nightmare.  Try going with a vendor that can design, deploy, and support both your VOIP phone system and your network.  By the way, that would be Inflow Communications.

Try Inflow Communications out.  We’ll walk you through these potential pitfalls and prepare a plan that makes the most sense for your organization.  We might even take through these valuable exercises at no charge (with the hopes you’ll see our value and give us your VOIP phone system project).