Reliable phone service is a lifeline for business, even now when email and social media have risen hugely in importance. But telephony can carry significant sunk costs, including line rental and PBX maintenance. More companies are re-examining these costs and making the switch to voice over IP, using their data connections instead of dedicated phone lines to carry calls. Here are 3 key things to consider as you examine whether to make the VoIP switch:
1) Total cost of ownership
What is your current telephony investment? An ISDN Primary Rate Interface alone costs approximately €3,600 per annum, but you'll need to examine all the costs, including line rental, PBX purchase and maintenance. If you've nearly or fully depreciated your current PBX, it's often a good time to look at the total cost of ownership and compare the cost of modern alternatives like voice over IP (commonly marketed as a SIP trunk). Also ask your provider about hosted PBX options, where the switchboard functionality resides in the core network rather than in on-site hardware at your premises -- this can provide deep cost savings, as you eliminate not just equipment capex costs but also maintenance fees of call-out visits from an engineer. Don't forget to include the cost of scalability when doing your sums: while voice over IP capacity for incoming and outgoing calls can be rapidly and inexpensively scaled, you must purchase blocks of ISDN PRA lines if you need more call capacity, factoring in not just that extra expense but also the delay as you wait for ISDN installation.
2) Benefits versus the risk of voice over IP
Perhaps because telephony has been a vital fixture across enterprises for decades, companies can be risk-averse when it comes to examining alternatives to their traditional calling solutions. Now is the time to re-examine whether switching to voice over IP truly represents a risk, or whether your ideas are influenced by the spotty reputation of old-style, first-generation VOIP solutions of years ago. Voice over IP is a mature technology with a substantial installed user base and the same Service Level Agreement guarantees that protect other telecom services. If your data connection is protected (a primary data connection backed up by secondary resilience), you now have the same benefits for your voice traffic, providing resilience for it that you never had before. Using voice over IP, you'll also experience less disruption during an upheaval like an office relocation, as you need only move your data lines rather than phone lines and can be up and running with calls as soon as you're online.
3) Service offering from your voice over IP provider
AirSpeed Telecom has been offering voice over IP services for a decade and we continue to invest in our voice capability. It's important to ask any service provider you're considering about their base of experience, focussing on areas that affect service quality. How is high-availability built into their back-end infrastructure -- is the core switching equipment duplicated and hosted across multiple data centres? Can the provider give Quality of Service guarantees? How are calls terminated? AirSpeed Telecom terminates VoIP calls via dedicated interconnects with Tier 1 voice carriers, so we can deliver the strongest possible SLAs for the service. Your provider should also be familiar with a range of PBXs and installation scenarios and be ready to deploy, test and verify all features (voicemail, extension dialling, unified communications, instant messaging and presence), plus any integrations needed. To deliver the VoIP service, a data (Ethernet) connection must be taken from your on-site switch/router to the VoIP interface on your PBX, but if your PBX doesn't have this, then a gateway can be deployed which bridges between the data line and the voice interface of your PBX.
Do take the time, too, to speak with companies who've already moved to voice over IP and ask about their experience: has it delivered cost savings, has service been as robust as hoped, has call quality met expectations of users and customers? Migrating to IP for voice calls is increasingly recognised as not just a way to remove costs from the enterprise, but also as a means of leveraging a data connection to full effect and getting better value from that bandwidth investment.
For more information about voice services from AirSpeed Telecom, see here or email firstname.lastname@example.org