VoIP is one of the latest technologies creating a buzz…
How Reliable is VoIP for Business?
One of the biggest requirements for any enterprise technology is reliability. The latest system with the most advanced capabilities will be of no use to a business if it does not work properly or when it is required the most.
Sometimes software and hardware may require maintenance or downtime for updates, installing security patches etc.
However as long as they can be scheduled in advance, the organization can work around it or arrange for alternatives.
But unexpected downtime, frequent errors or bugs, crashes or hardware malfunctions can cause frustration, interrupt workflows and incur costs. Such disruption of service may be a small inconvenience to consumers but can have a more widespread impact on businesses.
Before we assess the reliability of VoIP for business, we need to separate VoIP as a technology from its implementation.
There are many factors that affect the reliability of a system and in the case of VoIP, they can be categorized in terms of whether they are a function of the technology itself or whether they arise as a result of individual deployment configurations.
To better understand it, we can compare VoIP to other new innovations. Mobile calling protocols have matured to a stage where it is extremely reliable as a technology.
However, the service experienced by individual customers will depend upon the particular network or carrier they are on. So a person with one carrier may experience poor service (back coverage, lack of cell towers in range etc.) even though the technology itself is reliable. The same idea applies to VoIP as well.
At this point we also suggest reading an article about whether and how VoIP is reliable for business.
VoIP As A Technology
VoIP is based on Internet protocols, it is extremely robust. The earliest implementations of VoIP used to suffer from poor call quality, dropped connections and entire words or parts of conversations would go missing.
However, there have been many improvements since then and the protocol is now mature and stable.
This means that most of the factors that affect the reliability of VoIP service are in fact dependent on the individual data network and the settings or configuration of the particular implementation.
VoIP Service Implementation
When we look at the implementation side of VoIP, some factors are dependent on the business and others are controlled by the service provider.
Since most businesses are considering hosted VoIP services rather than on premise systems, it is important to evaluate the reliability of the service from the vendor before purchasing.
In general, businesses cannot change the audio codecs or the actual hardware on which the VoIP service is running. It is up to the service provider to ensure that the service they provide is reliable and will not stop working unexpectedly. This is why service level agreements are so important.
On the other hand, VoIP reliability also depends on the data network and Internet speeds that deliver the service to the business. Slow Internet connections and network congestion can quickly degrade the audio quality as well as result in dropped calls, missed connections or other issues.
It has nothing to do with the reliability of the technology itself. In most cases, optimizing the QoS settings or switching to a higher speed connection will solve such issues.
At the end of the day, VoIP reliability can vary with the individual deployment but in general, the technology and service are robust. Enterprises need not worry about whether the system will fail unexpectedly or cause interruptions in daily workflows.
During the early days of VoIP, many businesses had serious doubts regarding its reliability and call quality. The technology and the industry as a whole has come a long way since then and VoIP can be just as reliable – if not more – as POTS.
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