Over the past five years, we have seen mass migration of business telephony calls from traditional copper lines – time division multiplexing (TDM) technology – to voice over internet protocol (VoIP or SIP).

Initial uptake in VoIP for business was slow due to a number of reasons. Business VoIP had a bad name due to poor quality, unreliable intermittent calls and was expensive to execute properly. This left VoIP implementations only attainable for the larger enterprise corporate that had the technical and financial resources to implement the migration.

Thankfully the quality issues have become an issue of the past and VoIP for business is achievable and affordable for any size company. Business can enjoy the benefits which include high definition call quality, more flexibility and substantial cost savings gained with lower call costs and the removal of costly line rentals on copper phone lines.

IS VOIP ALL IT’S CRACKED UP TO BE?

In short, the answer is a resounding yes. However, business owners must go into it with their eyes wide open. A VoIP implementation could require upgrading infrastructure, which can be a big undertaking most organisations will not do without proven benefits, which include the obvious cost savings.

Thankfully the quality issues have become an issue of the past and VoIP for business is achievable and affordable for any size company.

Why bother?

  • VoIP is quickly replacing old copper lines: Vast majority of Greenfield sites and start-ups are going the VoIP route, more and more businesses are undertaking migration projects.
  • Return on investment:ROI should be examined over a 36-month period; a business can expect to see cost savings ranging from 30-45% against traditional copper access.
  • Quality: Exceptional strides have been taken in the quality of VoIP calls, to ensure quality, a business should separate broadband traffic and voice traffic using quality of service (QOS). By splitting broadband internet traffic, you ensure that they have a dedicated percentage of the internet pipe reserved for VoIP (i.e. on a 10Mb connection the user can split this 9Mb to the internet and 1Mb dedicated for voice traffic) – this would be sufficient for around 10 concurrent calls.
  • Increased flexibility: Adding users is a simple click and drag, no more waiting weeks for additional copper lines to be installed. Also, the ability for users to move numbers seamlessly from the office to mobile means that your staff can carry their office landline number anywhere; making international travel and working from home easily attainable with no additional cost impact.

In short, migrating to VoIP is a win-win situation for most businesses and should be a worthwhile exercise given the outline of benefits. To ensure you are well prepared, Viatel have outlined some essential tips for moving to VoIP:

  1. The first consideration should be your current communications infrastructure – does your PBX support both copper and VoIP?Older phone systems will not be compatible or may need to be upgraded – any system rolled out in the past five years should be fine, however if in doubt contact your vendor to check.
  2. Is your broadband service sufficient?Not all broadband services support QOS and therefore cannot be split for VoIP and Data. Can you spare bandwidth for VoIP or are you already maxing out our existing service?
  3. Pick the right partner. It’s critical to get the right partner the first time around. Ireland has hundreds of companies in the business VoIP space and as with every service, some providers are much more professional and experienced than others – always seek references for other clients they have worked with.
  4. Pipeis a key element of the project, as you will be moving away from the copper lines and pushing your voice traffic over your broadband line. It’s important to have a reliable broadband connection and consult with your internet provider to apply QOS to split internet traffic and VoIP traffic. Do not opt to push the VoIP and data down the same internet connection and hope for the best – otherwise you will run into call quality issues.
  5. Resilience– as both voice and data are running over your broadband pipe it increases your business reliance on the broadband service. Depending on the critical nature of your business calls, it is strongly advised to implement fully resilient primary and backup broadband service to ensure maximum uptime.
  6. Security– users should consider protecting their PABX with a firewall to block fraudulent call traffic hacks – firewalling can be implemented at a low cost.
  7. Call costs– before entering into contract with a vendor, you should examine the actual per minute call charges. You can request that the chosen partner carries out a cost analysis comparing your existing phone bill, with what it would be expected to be on VoIP.
  8. Keep some copper– in the interest of a plan b, it is advised that companies retain at least one or two copper lines as a backup plan, if the VoIP service fails – you will still be able to make and receive calls.
  9. Move slowly– try to avoid jumping in overnight, plan a phased rollout. Moving ‘friendly’ departments first, try moving non-critical departments which are not customer facing or impacting, for example the IT department.

Ireland has hundreds of companies in the business VoIP space and as with every service, some providers are much more professional and experienced than others.

In the rush to gain the compelling cost benefits offered by business VoIP, too many organisations are forgetting the basics of this IT deployment. The value of VoIP is clear – reduced costs, improved portability, business agility and disaster recovery. But the risks need to be considered.

If you are considering a move to business VoIP, Viatel have over ten years experience in this space rolling out migrations for SMEs, corporate and government clients. We would be delighted to assist and advise you on VoIP for your business.