How VoIP has progressed since its infancy

In today’s business climate, people want the convenience of BYOD (Bring Your Own Device), in which employees use their personal mobile devices to access company resources such as email, file servers and databases. VoIP, or Voice over Internet Protocol, is also a part of the BYOD movement.

“People want their voice to follow their devices,” says Alex Desberg, sales and marketing director at Ohio.net. “To meet this demand, VoIP providers are looking at assimilating voice and video, integrating tablets with phone systems and running different types of voice applications.”

Smart Business spoke with Desberg about how technology has improved VoIP capabilities, how it can help keep a business up and running in the event of a disaster, and the cost savings associated with this phone service.

How has VoIP availability expanded in recent years?

In the early days of VoIP, providers installed their own networks and used their own facilities to port numbers and bring services to new areas. In essence, providers shouldered the responsibility for creating an infrastructure.

As the product has matured and more services have become available, carriers and other telephone companies now port numbers for providers into remote service areas. It has become far easier for providers to deploy services in places where, previously, there was no availability.

How has technology improved VoIP capabilities?

VoIP came on to the scene about seven years ago. As it has become more accepted and heavily used, the software programming has become much more refined. The code has been tightened, which allows for better networking and compatibility with different devices. As with any technology, the more it is used and the more it becomes accepted, the less expensive it becomes to maintain and operate, and the easier it is to deploy.

Why is VoIP ideal for disaster recovery?

With Hurricane Sandy dominating the news, disaster recovery is a hot topic. Businesses are making sure that they back up their data and have alternative points of access so they can keep their companies up and running if there is a catastrophe. Unfortunately, many businesses fail to include a plan for their phone system when preparing for a disaster.

A common misconception is that an organization can simply rely on cell phones if its phone system is down. In reality, a business cannot operate at full strength when its communications system is down for an extended period of time.

With VoIP, businesses can be prepared for a disaster by having their provider host their phone system. This enables organizations to run seamlessly in the event of a calamity and carry on business as normal.

Customers and suppliers won’t even realize that your business model has changed and that you have switched to disaster recovery mode.

How can telecom costs be contained with VoIP?

Usually, as new technologies emerge, a service becomes cheaper and easier to deploy. However, when it comes to traditional telephone services, this has not been the case. People have requested new features for their phones and those have been accompanied by exponential increases in cost. The biggest costs associated with traditional phone systems are adding new features and the monthly service fees that accompany those.

VoIP has taken a different approach. Providers have simplified the process of delivering a dial tone to phone systems and driven down the cost of monthly service. Also, VoIP serves as a fixed-cost model, and additions and changes are usually included as part of the package. You are not making another investment every time you need an upgrade to meet the demands of your business.

Finally, VoIP is a nonregulated product, so tariffs are not set by the FCC. This enables providers to be able to offer new services at whatever rate they choose.

How does VoIP compare to traditional phone service in terms of ease of management?

Oftentimes, management of a phone system falls to IT personnel. In other cases, there is a dedicated telecom professional whose sole responsibility is the upkeep of the phone system.

VoIP providers offer two options. First, they can take all of the management responsibilities away from an organization by adding a hosted provider and serving as a service provider, which includes adding and changing features, troubleshooting and training.

Second, they can change the level of management to provide a single point of contact. A business can take as much or as little responsibility for managing its phone system as it would like.

In what ways has the track record of VoIP improved over the years?

Customers have demanded improvement. If VoIP providers are going to offer cloud-based phone services, the quality has to be as good, if not better, than that of traditional phone companies. Good means dependable and reliable. Better means that VoIP providers need to offer features and services well beyond those of any regulated telephone company, and they must be ahead of the curve in terms of developing and deploying new offerings.

Alex Desberg is a 20-year veteran of launching and marketing Internet technology. Most of his technology tenure has been with regional and national providers. At Ohio.net, a wholly owned subsidiary of Doylestown Communications, Desberg has been the development spearhead of a mature VoIP product line designed for business application and brings his support and knowledge to the B2B environment.

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